It Pays to Be a Good Friend

Like an addict yearning for his fix, I still have a few days of painful waiting before the Cleveland Cavaliers face off against the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals, but at least I have a new favorite player. Yes, he’s on the Cavs and yes, his name is James. But, no, it’s not LeBron. It’s that other James: James Jones.

Despite this being his 12th year in the Association, many basketball fans may not even know who James Jones is. Frequently found warming the bench, James Jones isn’t exactly a superstar. He averaged four points a game this year – one below his career average. He’s not even the most famous professional athlete with the name James Jones.

But now he has a fascinating footnote in basketball history:

As has been well documented, LeBron completed his “degree” with the Miami Heat in four years. Returning home to the Cavs last summer, he called up his “college roommate,” James Jones, and convinced him to come along. And as of June 4th, Jones will surpass the Holy Trinity of the NBA — Jordan, Magic, and Bird — in at least one thing by arriving at the NBA Finals for the fifth year in a row.

Mr. Jones hasn’t exactly carried his teams to the Finals. (LeBron may have had a thing or two to do with that).

 

But for us mortals not blessed with LeBron’s otherworldly physical capabilities, it’s the other James who offers us a more relatable model for success.

Jones can’t do everything. He’s stick thin and not exactly known for his defensive prowess.

Unlike LeBron, he doesn’t fill up the stat sheet. But, he seems to be able to do two things very well: He can hit wide-open three pointers (which come often when LeBron draws the defense’s attention). And he seems to be a great friend.

When LeBron moved back to Cleveland, he wanted his friends to come along. Sure enough, much of the Cavs’ bench is filled with guys who are buddies with LeBron.1 And even if they don’t have the same statistics as LeBron, they, too, are Eastern Conference champs.

James Jones’s list of awards on his Wikipedia page is filled with team accomplishments, a competition with no actual defenders (the three-point contest), and four years of being on the Big East All-Academic Team. I love it. I can’t do everything that LeBron can do, but I can try to develop one or two talents God has given me.

And even though I’m not a 6-foot-8 NBA player, I can also try to be a good friend. James Jones shows that it leads to good things.
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  1. LeBron just jokingly referred to himself, James Jones, and Mike Miller as “the big three.” That is awesome on so many levels.

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