I want you to imagine superheroes exist. Put an image in your head. What they would look like, what they would wear, what their powers would be. Are you there? Did you envision Superman flying, maybe Cyclops’ lasers? Did you imagine Flash’s speed or Oracle’s intelligence? I can’t blame you if you did, because that’s where we go when we envision the “super” in super-powered. But for those that went a little simpler in their criteria, they might’ve imagined a skilled tactician whose powers are superior strength, speed, intelligence, and healing compared to that of the average human, whose government-sanctioned enhancements came from a secret program decades in the past.
Not 1940, but 1984… because LeBron James is Captain America.
According to some with a strange new theory, at least. For most intents and purposes, LeBron James’ abilities are the real-life equivalent to the effects of the Super Soldier serum injected in Steve Rogers during World War II; and if you ask certain people on Reddit, they’d unhook their lapel mic after filming season 3 of Ancient Aliens and go a step further, because they believe certain feats are only explained through superhuman intervention. LeBron James is believed to be one of those feats.
[quote_right]If Marvel’s standards of Captain America are how we define superhuman, would you say LeBron James is not?[/quote_right]
The theory is this: LeBron James was created by the government, or maybe the Dyad Institute from Orphan Black, in a series of genetic tests that impregnated women – Gloria James among them – to create super soldiers. If it were the Dyad institute, Helena is LeBron’s cectra, and that calls for a whole separate exposé, but I digress. The supposed unintended consequence of this secret genetic manipulation is the greatest basketball player in the world.
At first blush the theory sounds a lot like a simple racist caricature of hulking Black men. You know, that thing they use to justify drawing weapons on unarmed people. But on a second glance… okay, still racist – it’s still from Reddit and those threads come straight from the whispers of Satan. But on third glance, it sounds not unlike the Tuskegee experiments, which, while still appallingly racist, are also appallingly true.
For about 40 years, the US Public Heath Service ran biological tests to study the affects of untreated syphilis. Who were the test subjects? As often the case, the test subjects were those with the least resources to combat their being taken advantage of, which were 600 impoverished Black men in the south in this case. Told by the government that they were being given free health care, the men were injected with syphilis between 1932 and 1972, never treated with penicillin (despite it becoming a known treatment as early as the 1940s) and never told they had the disease. Of course, this was before the age of Institutional Review Boards to protect human subjects – those actually came as a result of Tuskegee’s infamy – but to those skeptical of the government acting within its limits the existence of present-day laws and regulations are less than compelling. In relation to the LeBron-Captain-America theory, the Reddit user explains why he believes the practice undoubtedly happens today on the same low-income targets used throughout the 20th Century:
“YOU DON’T THINK THE GOVERNMENT HAS INTEREST IN CREATING GENETICALLY MODIFIED SUPER HUMAN SOLDIERS? WE KNOW FOR A FACT IT DOES. IT’S BEEN DOCUMENTED. YOU DON’T THINK RUSSIA OR CHINA HAS INTEREST IN SUCH A THING? YOU KNOW THEY DO. AND ANYTHING RUSSIA OR CHINA IS OR WOULD BE DOING WE ARE DOING. TO DO IT FIRST AND DO IT BETTER.”
So we know the government has done unsanctioned human tests. We also know their targets are historically low-income people of color who lessened the threat of advocacy. While the execution is still left to wild conjecture (as is all of this), we also have varying theories of how the tests could have been done, ranging from unknowing pregnant mothers or willing subjects sworn to secrecy. But how much do LeBron’s abilities match with our comic book hero?
Captain America is listed at 6’2” and 220 lbs. according to Marvel. “Captain America represented the pinnacle of human physical perfection… very high intelligence as well as agility, strength, speed, endurance, and reaction time superior to any Olympic athlete… most notably, his body eliminates the excessive build-up of fatigue-producing poisons in his muscles, granting him phenomenal endurance.”
If you a felt a chill up your spine, it’s because that description is a curious thing. Listed at 6’8” and 250 lbs., the only thing that betrays his genetic supremacy is the rapid diminishment of his hair. His fading follicle strength notwithstanding, we see each of Captain America’s powers in living color each time James is on the court. In Game 4 of the 2015 Eastern Conference Finals, James fell injured and immediately asked to be pulled from the court, wincing in pain. He then closed his eyes, counted to five, waived off the substitution request, and continued his dominance unhindered. After making the game-clinching shot he told press that it was mind over matter, but you have to admit it looked a lot like healing ability. In fact, James has yet to have a serious career injury as a professional athlete for over 10 years. If Marvel’s standards of Captain America are how we define superhuman, would you say LeBron James is not?
You might be wondering about other athletes. LeBron is currently the best basketball player in the world, but how would someone explain some of the others who excel in their fields at such freakishly high levels? Well, the explanation would be the same for many, claiming others were test subjects too, now walking among us.
“HE’S SOME KIND OF EXPERIMENT THAT THEY JUST MONITORED FROM A DISTANCE AND LET KEEP GROWING. AND I MEAN THIS WAS PROBABLY INITIALLY STARTED WITH JUST A FEW PEOPLE WHO BELIEVED IT COULD BE DONE AND THAT’S WHY IT STARTED SMALL AND COVERT USING REGULAR CIVILIANS. WHERE ELSE WOULD SUCH A PERSON END UP BESIDES IN A PROFESSIONAL SPORTS LEAGUE?”
But maybe this is just another attempt at undermining hard-earned accomplishments. How about this as an alternative theory: maybe he’s a damn good athlete because he earned it. Maybe he poured so much time, effort, and discipline to excel at something so much that people resort to metaphysical conspiracies to explain him. Maybe basketball is only a microcosm of the achievements low-income kids of color reach when given motivation and access. Maybe it’s even less astounding when weighed against the achievements of low-income kids of color in academics and careers where they navigate without a level playing field. Maybe – just maybe – LeBron James is a 2x Champion, 2x Finals MVP, 4x League MVP, 11x All-Star, and Olympic Gold Medalist with a net worth of $375 million on his 5th consecutive trip to the NBA Finals because he worked for it.
…or maybe he’s just Captain America.