When will the LeBron hate stop?Published 12:01am Sunday, June 23, 2013
LeBron James flashed two fingers indicating the back-to-back NBA titles he’s now helped secure for the Miami Heat, and basketball fans collectively groaned in frustration.
Thanks to the Heat securing their big three of James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh several offseasons ago, Miami has catapulted itself into New York Yankees territory — you either love them or hate them.
And James has become the poster boy for this mindset, being loved by Heat fans and despised by almost everyone else, especially Ohio residents.
On one hand, I can understand the disdain for James to a point. The biggest knock against him is likely how he handled his departure as a Cleveland Cavalier. If he could do it over, I doubt James would repeat the public relations trainwreck that was “The Decision,” in which he waited nearly a half hour before actually declaring he would, “take (his) talents to South Beach.”
Cavaliers fans understandably felt betrayed, as James had grown up in Ohio and even brought his team to one NBA Finals before falling to the San Antonio Spurs in 2007. Some called James’ move cowardly, including Cavaliers majority owner Dan Gilbert.
Basketball fans criticized James for joining Wade and Bosh, saying he needed to ride the coattails of two other stars in order to win a title. But that criticism is likely going too far. The truth is, Cleveland had its chance to give James a team with which he could have won and failed. It’s difficult to blame him for wanting to go to a situation that would give him a chance at an NBA title.
Often maligned for his lack of clutch plays in the playoffs, James has all but silenced critics who say he can’t get the job done when it matters. In addition to two rings, James now has two NBA Finals Most Valuable Player awards. Whatever trouble he had in the postseason before, you can no longer say he’s not clutch.
The dislike for James — and the Heat by extension — is borderline irrational. It’s one thing if you’re a fan of an Eastern Conference team that James and the Heat continually beat. It’s something else if you’re just a casual basketball fan. Whereas Michael Jordan was almost universally loved by hoops fans everywhere, James is almost universally despised.
Yes, “The Decision” was ill-advised. But are we going to hold that against him the rest of his career? If you step back and think about it rationally, you can’t really blame James for leaving Cleveland, so using that as an excuse seems a bit petty if you ask me.
Is there no appreciation for someone who will likely go down as one of the best players to ever play the game? No awe for someone who is likely the most physically gifted player to ever step on the court? Yes, if your team’s a contender, he’s probably beating them. But where’s the appreciation for his talent?
James is not Jordan. He doesn’t quite have the same tenacious personality and charisma Jordan had, he doesn’t (yet) have as many rings and he probably won’t be keeping the Looney Tunes from being enslaved on Moron Mountain. But can we please tone down on the Hater-ade?
No? Well, just know you’re likely going to grow to hate him even more as he keeps collecting hardware.