Careers In Common: LeBron James and Taylor Swift
I have this strange interpretation of both the careers of LeBron James and Taylor Swifts that makes me think of them in a very parallel way, an idea that is probably more personal to me and the way I view them in both their prolific careers than in reality but it’s a comparison I can’t get past. Both being prodigies from a young age and figures that were able to handle it about as well as anybody, I think it can be said that the thing they have in common is that they have been at the top for so long that they’ve outlasted most of the greats.
My first memory of James was when they started playing his high school games on ESPN, it was kind of crazy at the time, the amount of coverage he was getting for a high schooler, but he’d earned the accolades and had been the best player in the country already as a junior. It almost went without saying at the time that he was going straight into the NBA and when he got drafted by his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers with the first round pick, it wasn’t much of a surprise either.
Swift first made her appearance in the country music scene when she was fourteen and was already a star by sixteen with the release of her first album. She was immediately earning several accolades herself, including being the youngest artist to write and sing a number one song, among many others. At this point in my life, I wasn’t really a fan of either but I didn’t really have anything against them. James was an NBA player for a team I didn’t really care about and Swift was just a pop country star that little girls loved but both were already so big that they couldn’t be ignored.
From that point, they both established themselves as mainstays at the top and if you want to compare their accolades further, their Wikipedia pages are almost overwhelmingly stacked with long lists of notable accomplishments that are unlike anyone else. What’s more interesting though is how they got to that point by constantly changing themselves. James, who went to Miami then back to Cleveland before heading to LA, is the definition of a modern superstar, having ‘taken his talents’ wherever he sees the best opportunity to win. Swift has done a very similar thing with genre morphing, first from a country star to a pop star before exploring other new genres from folk to indie, dubstep or the synth heavy new release Midnights, she is constantly changing her music to keep up with the most modern influences and through that method has always stayed at the top when it comes to relevance.
While always a focal point of attention, both James and Swift have been a source of constant controversy. Much of James’ career, if not spent looking for the next place he can win a title, has been spent leveraging his current team into acquiring player that can help him win a championship and the offseason is always a source of some drama, something Swift has made an art of. With dating drama from John Mayer to Harry Styles, Swift has been almost diabolical in the way she has picked apart the flaws of her ex-boyfriends. It should also be noted that they haven’t always been the most popular for their actions, James was hated for going to Miami and Swift exiled herself for almost a year when issues with the media got really bad. Much of this can be attributed both James and Swift being two of the most famous people in the world, but I think it also speaks to their relentless pursuit of being the best and the way that relentlessness can be perceived.
In the long run, I think what holds true for them both is that they’ve been entertaining for the entire time, relevant, important, even amazing at times (I mean who can forget 3-1 or Folklore and Evermore in the same year), and even when I wasn’t their biggest fan, I could never help but pay attention. This is not a flawless comparison, it’s likely one you disagree with if you’re a fan of either. I get it, you can find some holes, but just allow me this closing thought. If twenty years from now LeBron James and Taylor Swift end up sitting next to each other at a bar, like two war vets at a VFW, and they start shooting the shit, telling stories, I’d bet they’d become pretty good friends because they’ve been through a lot of the same shit and it’s the kind of shit not many people have ever gone through.