LeBron James and Urban Meyer understand facing down dynasties: Doug Lesmerises

COLUMBUS, Ohio — LeBron James described it as a mutual respect a few years ago before the Cavaliers played an exhibition game in Columbus, explaining his relationship with Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer.”We have some of the same goals in mind as well,” James said in 2016.One of those goals, obviously, is winning championships. Just as obviously, James and Meyer face the same obstacle.Dynasties.The closest thing in sports to the NBA dominance of the Golden State Warriors is the college football dominance of Nick Saban’s Alabama Crimson Tide. (As proof, for some reason ESPN’s Marty Smith got Saban on a basketball court for the next episode of his show.)New college football coaches edition of #MartySmithsAmerica on TV debuts Thurs 8pm ET on @ESPN – @MartySmithESPN w/ @coach_frost @AlabamaFTBL Coach Saban @AggieFootball Coach Fisher & more pic.twitter.com/XpKbBJ3PP3The similarities between Meyer’s career and what he has faced with Saban at Alabama and James’ career and what he has faced with Golden State are striking.Both born and raised in Ohio, Meyer and James both won their first two championships in Florida.Meyer won his first at Florida before Saban arrived in Tuscaloosa, then beat early Saban on his way to winning his second. The Gators bested Bama in the 2008 SEC Championship before beating Oklahoma to win it all.As James won the second of consecutive titles with the Miami Heat in 2013, David Lee was the Warriors’ only All-Star, Steph Curry and Klay Thompson were coming into their own and Draymond Green was a rookie off the bench scoring three points per game.Meyer and James were great then. But Alabama and Golden State were not yet what they would become.The year after Meyer’s second title, Saban won the first of what would be five championships over the last nine years, beating Meyer and Florida in the SEC Championship on the way to that first crown.Two years after James’ second title, the Warriors won the first of their three championships in four years, beating James and the Cavs in the Finals to snare that title.Here’s the question: Were Meyer and James any less great then compared to when they won their first two championships?Have they actually become a lesser coach and lesser player as they’ve honed their crafts? Did they peak early, and then fall off?Or did the context just change around them?Did all-time foes rise up who weren’t there before, opponents who didn’t prove that Meyer and James were suddenly any lesser, but that Alabama and Golden State were achieving greatness in their own right?The comparison isn’t perfect, of course.James’ discussion centers around whether he’s the greatest basketball player ever. No offense to Meyer, but that’s not the discussion around him. He’s a legend, but he’s not fighting to be viewed as the greatest college football coach in history.Maybe that’s why the comparison to Meyer can shed light on James and on those those who seek to use Golden State’s victories over the Cavs as proof of James falling short of something.Because while everyone acknowledges Saban’s legendary status, the discussion around Meyer doesn’t center on knocking him for not being Saban.So how high on James’ list of accomplishments should losing three of four to the Warriors come into play?

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