If you hear the names Cameron Smith and LeBron James in the same sentence, it would usually be regarding the heralded ‘GOAT’ discussion.
Arguably the greatest in their given sports, these two athletes have a lot more in common than you may think.
Both are fresh off title wins in their given competition, LeBron just won his fourth NBA ring and Smith his fifth (third legitimate) NRL ring. Both are considered ‘old’ for their given sport, with the former being 35 and the latter 37. Both play important positions, with LeBron a point-guard-forward-based position, with the ball in his hand the majority of the time, and Smith, who plays hooker, touching the ball at almost every play and having to make around 30-plus tackles a game.
Funny enough, prior to their seasons beginning, both were considered to be ‘getting on’ or, in LeBron’s case, ‘washed’.
If anything was proven this season, both players are still arguably the best in their competitions.
The similarity that I do want to touch on the most is how they are perceived and how they carry themselves on and off the field.
Both have a mixed reputation and seem to have this negative aura about them.
Smith is accused of being called a cheat and a pocket ref due to his persuasion skills over referees. Do not get me wrong, people applaud his skill and just how good he is, but those two labels seem to stay with him.
LeBron, on the other hand, has been labelled ‘soft’ for the era he plays in (which he cannot help) and also comes for certain situations in which he may have passed the ball up on a game-winning chance, or even to when he got carried off the court when the air conditioning wasn’t functioning (yep).
He has switched teams on three occasions and seemingly always brings stars with him in his bid to chase rings and be the best he can be. They seem to be the most hated things about LeBron.
What people seem to not see is what astounds me.
In 2016, after a grand final loss, Smith delivered the most humble and gracious speech for a losing captain. On Sunday, when Panthers players were down at full time, Smith made his way over to young prince Nathan Cleary and told him to hold his head high.
Does Smith get any credit? No.
LeBron is known to be one of the most supportive teammates in the league. In almost all of his final losses, he has stayed on the court to congratulate the winners. He is very good to fans, who await his presence, and has given away game-worn clothes and shoes to fans.
Keep in mind, this man has been a celebrity since he was a teenager and he keeps his same tendencies.
Oh yeah, and he opened a school for disadvantaged children, yet he still cops hate? Absurd!
Neither has been in trouble for outside behaviour and are both good family men, husbands and fathers. For their entire lengthy careers, they have upheld themselves as citizens, copped flack unfairly but never let the flack sway them as human beings. Both have been as consistent as taxes and always seem to be the topic of discussion.
They are good humans first and foremost. You may argue their performances on the field, but do not let it sway your opinion of them as people.