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Sports Then and Now



LeBron: Blame Canada Instead 1

Posted on July 25, 2010 by Ryan Durling

You can’t blame LeBron James.

Seriously.

LeBron was born in December of 1984. Not two years later, Run-DMC covered Aerosmith’s 1977 hit, “Walk This Way.”

Those two facts are very much related.

See, everyone went up in arms when LeBron broke up the LeBronettes and decided to play backup guitar in Dwayne Wade’s band. But he really only did what successful athletes/artists/actors have been doing his entire life.

Prior to the mid-80s, it was rare to see anybody go to bat for one of their rival’s teams – figuratively or literally speaking. When DMC covered Aerosmith, suddenly collaboration became the thing to do. It was a surefire way of saying, “yeah, I know I’m good, but imagine how good I could be with somebody else whose talents equal mine in a complimentary manner.”

Bird never would have played with Johnson. Russell never would have played with Wilt or Kareem. But why would they? They were the best at what they did and who needed anybody else?

The Prince still has some work to do before NBA fans will anoint him King.

Elvis didn’t mix with anybody else, and neither did the Beatles or Beach Boys a decade after him. Steve Miller? Don Henley? Freddie Mercury? He shared everything else with the world, but not his musical talents. None of them collaborated.

What about Pacino or Stallone or Harrison? Or DeNiro? Not in the 70s, anyway. Ford and Stallone, now well aware that they’re past their respective primes, have done a great job in supporting roles in the last 15 years or so – the atrocious Rocky Balboa notwithstanding.

Not even in the 80s did movie stars go out of their way to collaborate. Bruce Willis, Nic Cage and Tom Cruise – all rising stars in their own right – carried their own films, some more admirably than others.

But around the mid-80s, right when Run and Aerosmith were changing the game for good, a young Michael J. Fox teamed with Christopher Lloyd for the trans-generational hit Back to the Future. Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman tag teamed on Rain Man. The rest of the 80s would see some classic teams produce epic hits: Kevin Costner and James Earl Jones in Field of Dreams (1988),  Costner and Tim Robbins in Bull Durham (1988), and Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally 1989).

It took longer for collaboration to catch on in music, primarily because there was such a divide in the 80s between the long-established Rock scene and the up-and-coming hip-hop genre. Ice Cube, Ice T, Eazy-E and Dr. Dre worked together late in the 80s in their N.W.A. project, but produced but one hit together, “F*ck the Police,” which earned a letter of warning from the FBI and will likely go down in history as the song that started the rap movement.

Dre and Snoop Dogg began the 90s by collaborating on a glut of hits that – mercifully – pushed MC Hammer and Right Said Fred quickly off the front pages of the Billboard charts. En Vogue and Salt-N-Pepa, two groups influenced by Dre, were no strangers to collaboration either. It was Tupac who made collaboration big in hip-hop, however, working with artists from different labels and pushing their careers forward. Read the rest of this entry →

  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Drew Pearson: Mr. Clutch
      August 7, 2021 | 6:59 pm

      Drew Pearson

      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month is a former NFL wide receiver know as “Mr. Clutch” for his penchant for making big receptions at crucial moments of the game. After waiting for more than 30 years, he is finally earning his rightful place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a member of the 2021 Hall of Fame Class.

      During his decade with the Dallas Cowboys, Drew Pearson had a habit of making the big catch at the right moment to help the Cowboys time and again snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

      The favorite target of Hall of Fame quarterback Roger Staubach, Pearson was widely recognized as one of the great receivers of his era. Though at the time of his retirement many expected Pearson to easily breeze into the Hall of Fame, his enshrinement was derailed by changes to the game which artificially inflated receiver stats and made the numbers he produced during a time when wide receivers weren’t catching 100 passes a season seem inferior.

      Read more »

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