I must admit, I never thought in one million years that I would be writing a title to an article like this.
After 2010, I became an official “LeBron-hater” following the PR fiasco that was The Decision. I joined in on a gang attack of James and his desire to be a champion, how he would measure up to the greats of Magic, Bird and of course, Jordan. I hated his game. I hated his team. I hated his city. I hated his face. I even wrote an article in 2012 before the NBA Finals proclaiming that he in fact was not the best player in the NBA.
I did everything I possibly could to deny his talents and say that he, in fact, was not a true champion or a true great player. And the funny thing is that up until The Decision, I may have been one of his biggest fans.
I recall a vacation I took for Thanksgiving to visit a cousin in Cleveland during the Cavaliers’ 2007-08 season. As a joke, I asked if it were possible to go see the Cavs and LeBron live in person in his house back when The Q was still his “King’s Palace.” To my surprise and joy, my father along with my cousin and his future wife scrounged up enough cash to go see the show that was LeBron and the Cavaliers. Ironically, they were playing Chris Bosh’s Toronto Raptors.
I enjoyed every moment of that day. The game was tight, LeBron was spectacular, and the atmosphere was something I haven’t quite felt before at a sporting event. It was a communal love, a joy shared by everyone in the arena. Something about LeBron in Cleveland seemed right. It felt like it would never end.
This wasn’t the first time I had seen LeBron in person. Two years earlier, I begged my father for tickets to see the Cavaliers when they came to Atlanta once during LeBron’s 2005 season. We got the tickets and watched a highlight factory at Phillips Arena.
I cheered every LeBron dunk, shot, block, and whatever else he did. He was the closest thing to Jordan, my all-time favorite, in his prime that I had ever seen.
“He may not be better,” I once told my father. “But he’s the closest to Michael Jordan I think we’ll ever see.”
My father looked at me dismissively, lecturing me through his expression that I shouldn’t dare mention the two in the same breath. We are Bulls fans and therefore Michael Jordan fans. We don’t compare lesser players to Michael. All of this he told me with that one look. And yet I still kept my statement in my mind from that moment on.
In our zeal to rip somebody for a mistake, we forget that these people are indeed human beings. I refuse to engage in the MJ/LeBron argument in this article, but I admit that my personal love of Jordan will never be overshadowed by whatever James accomplishes in his career.
But despite the current situation in this year’s NBA Finals with James’ Heat facing a humiliating elimination against one of the best teams in recent memory, LeBron James needs to be left alone.
It is clear that after last night’s game that LeBron James has been dragging this Miami squad much like he once did for his former team in Cleveland. Scoring 28 points and coming two rebounds short of a double-double, it’s clear that LeBron James kept Miami somewhat in the game. For the series, he’s averaged 27.5 points along with 7.3 rebounds per game. But that doesn’t matter. Even when he succeeds, James is the penultimate failure.
Never mind that Dwyane Wade scored 10 points hitting only three shots the entire night. Never mind that starting power forward Rashard Lewis completely shut down, managing to make just one basket in Game 4. Never mind that Erik Spoelstra benched one of the team’s best rebounders in Udonis Haslem even while his team was on its way to being pushed around by a 44-27 margin on the boards. None of this matters. It’s LeBron’s fault.
We focus on the fact that James’ team lost and therefore making it his fault. Oh and by the way he cramped up in Game 1 of this series therefore HE’S SOFT AND HE SHOULD FEEL BAD ABOUT BEING SOFT#Lebroning!!!!!
That’s unrealistic, but that’s the way it is because he’s the star. He’s the best player in the NBA right now.
James did himself no favors making his Decision to take his talents to South Beach on the made-for-Hollywood TV special on that fateful July evening in 2010.
But for now, let’s focus on the fact that the San Antonio Spurs are a fantastic team with rising stars like Kawhi Leonard that could make the NBA much more entertaining in the next couple of years. Let’s celebrate the consistency of that boring old guy Tim Duncan and his record playoff minutes. Let’s marvel in coach Greg Popovich’s ability to completely out-maneuver his counterpart Spoelstra to coach his Spurs to three blow outs in four games over a team unaccustomed to being thrashed two nights in a row let alone losing consecutive games in the playoffs (the first time the Heat have done so since the 2012 Eastern Conference finals vs. the Boston Celtics).
I honestly will never truly forgive LeBron James for his shameless act of self-glorification on The Decision. In my eyes, Michael Jordan will always be better and to a degree James will always seem to me overrated in many ways.
If the Heat do indeed fail to keep the series alive in Game 5, I will take joy in their failure, but more so for the fact that I’ve heard for a year that the Heat will three-peat and surpass my beloved ’90s Chicago Bulls as the most dominant team in NBA history.
But with all of that said, I am done with the blind LeBron hate.
Am I done with the dislike? No, I’ll always dislike him with hateful tendencies. But I’ll respect his talent on the court while more or less disliking his flopping, his playful demeanor that comes off as cockiness (to me at least), his complaining about sleeved jerseys or his premature pronouncements.
But it’s time. Let the man be who he is.
He’s not Jordan.
He’s not Magic.
He’s not Bird.
And he never will be.