When Time Magazine releases their 100 Most Influential list in a given year, it’s broken up into categories. While there lacks any sort of ranking or ordinal system that would allow the internet to argue for weeks, artists are different than world leaders who are different than pioneers who are different from the rest. And while the 2017 crop of the #TIME100 has its fair share of athletes—the last 12 months of sports has been from another world, after all—only two are included in the magazine’s category for “Titans”: New England’s Tom Brady, and Cleveland’s LeBron James.
James, who is no stranger to Time’s annual recognition of the world’s most influential people, was the subject of an essay penned by fellow Akron native, Pulitzer-prize winner Rita Dove.
When LeBron James, my hometown of Akron’s most famous son, takes flight to dunk, even I, a poet usually averse to battered clichés, am tempted to call it poetry in motion—if we agree that poetry can be stormy as well as smooth, thrillingly true yet downright mean as it lures you one way, pivots and drives its point home…
By making good on his pledge to bring a championship to the Cleveland Cavaliers and by investing in the promise of future generations through his foundation, LeBron James has not only bolstered the self-esteem of his native Ohio but also became an inspiration for all Americans—proof that talent combined with passion, tenacity, and decency can reinvent the possible. Poetry in motion, indeed.
This, of course, is brilliantly written, an upgrade compared to when Derek Jeter discussed James’ nomination back in 2013.
Other athletes to get the nod include Olympic gymnast Simone Biles, soccer star Neymar, unemployed quarterback Colin Kaepernick, and MMA headliner Conor McGregor. All of them deserving, but they can’t all be Titans.