Back on Sept. 30, 2019, the Houston Rockets played the Shanghai Sharks of the Chinese Basketball Association in a preseason game that was the first official action of the 2019-20 NBA season. Over a year later, that long, strange journey came to an end when the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Miami Heat in Game 6 of the 2020 Finals to win their 17th title in franchise history.
After a shutdown in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, the league resumed play in July, finishing the final three-plus months of the season inside a bubble at Disney World. Considering the circumstances, it was an impressive achievement, and for the most part, the lack of fans and the stale environment wasn't too noticeable.
That all changed in the Finals when the lack of pageantry and atmosphere couldn't be ignored. In particular, the celebrations after the Lakers won were quite eerie, with the players' yelling and screaming echoing in the empty arena, and photos being taken in front of screens instead of an adoring crowd.
There were a few family members in attendance, but even those numbers were limited due to the bubble situation, which led to players celebrating virtually. Chief among them was LeBron James, whose family stayed at home. So there he was, on the floor of the locker room, FaceTiming his mom to soak it all in.
The entirety of his call can't be heard, and that's probably for the best, but this touching clip did come through:
"Everything that you have been through, everything that I've seen, it's nothing that can stop me," LeBron said. "Cause this s--- right here, this is nothing compared to the s--- you had to go through. God is good, God is great. I hope I continue to make you proud mom."
This is an incredibly sweet moment, and it helps put everything LeBron and his mom have been through together in perspective. But at the same time, there's something a bit pervasive about such a personal interaction being broadcast out into the world for everyone to gawk at and listen in on.
A mother and son sharing a few seconds of joy and accomplishment that only they can understand is no longer a private moment, but content for everyone else to create and consume. It's a shame nothing can exist anymore for the sake of itself, but must instead be sold, advertised, put on display for someone else's benefit, just as I am hypocritically having to do right now.
That, though, is a bigger discussion best saved for another time and place. For now, congrats to LeBron James and the Lakers on a historic title which won't be forgotten any time soon.