LeBron James is the best player in the NBA. He wins MVP trophies, goes to the finals (though no championships, yet), and has captured the hearts of basketball fans everywhere, only to smash them into a million pieces.
For some, the latter may resurface thoughts of a first love at the awkward grand old age of 12. It’s easy to believe the first love is as good as it gets. You may carry her books, or perhaps the two of you have even held hands on the swing set at recess, but just as quickly as your romance has blossomed, you’re true love has moved on to someone with less pimples, and you’re left with bitter heartbreak.
On July 7, 2010, “The Decision,” a prime time special that can only be remembered for the fiasco that it caused when James announced he would leave the Cleveland Cavaliers and “take his talents to South Beach,” instantly turning James from hero to villain.
Jump to today’s NBA: the Miami Heat are cruising to a second straight NBA Finals. Sure, they still have to win a few more games against the Boston Celtics first, but eventually the nursing home will figure out that Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce (average age: 35) have all escaped and upon their return there will be no challenge from the C’s.
It might seem like I’m jumping to conclusions, but it will take a mighty effort out of Doc Rivers’ team to take four games from the Heat.
Some fans will debate this statement. They are probably the same basketball junkies who thought the New York Knicks offered some form of resistance in the first round, or were sure the Indiana Pacers would unseat King James. The fact is, without a healthy Derrick Rose in Chicago, the Heat are undoubtedly the best team in the East.
Speaking of the Bulls, Chicago offers a great example of fans’ hatred for Lebron.
Prior to “The Decision,” word was thick that perhaps James might be headed to the Windy City, and why not? The Bulls offered a great compliment to James’ needs and wants: a young point guard looking for a forward to pass the ball to, preferably one that wasn’t named John Salmons. Chicago also has a rabid fan base and allowed a chance to resurrect feelings of the glory years, when James’ hero (who am I kidding, everybody’s hero) Michael Jordan was proving why he is the greatest basketball player to ever walk the Earth.
Alas, James preferred the shores of South Beach to Michigan Ave, and Chicago fans instantly reeked of fickle jealousy.
Fans of the Cleveland Cavaliers obviously took the news the hardest. For one, Cleveland has never had much to be excited for in any sport. The Cavs had been burned by Jordan in some of the only years the team had a chance.
“Here’s Michael at the foul line, a shot on Ehlo, Good! The Bulls win it! They win it!” said Jim Durham for the Bulls Radio Network.
That famous soundbite refers to Craig Ehlo of the Cavs in a first round match up that Chicago would take from the Cavs at the last second with an act from Jordan that would come to be known as “The Shot.” The Bulls beat the Cavs in four heart wrenching playoff series during Jordan’s reign.
Cleveland is also the home of the Browns, a historically deficient team that is famous for drafting Tim Couch, losing with Bill Belichick (yes, THAT Bill Belichick) and jumping ship to head to Baltimore in 1995, only to be replaced by a new Browns team in 1999. The “new” Browns are yet to prove they can perform any better than the original team.
Cleveland fans viewed LeBron as a savior; he represented the city’s first chance at the glory of a successful sports franchise. James’ decision was the proverbial note passed from that first love in junior high school, handed desk to desk across the class room, only to be opened and read as “I don’t love you. P.S. You have cooties.”
The basketball world hates LeBron. He is called a traitor, overrated and in denial of his rapidly regressing hairline.
But drama aside, James is a 6’8” 260 pound force with career averages of more than 27 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists per game. He is one of only eight NBA players to win three MVP awards. While being one of the biggest names in the game, James keeps a relatively low profile off the court and has stayed out of trouble with the law.
To claim his demise based only off of a lack of championships is to say Charles Barkley, Karl Malone and Patrick Ewing were also unworthy of the praise they have attained. The subject also bears mention that James is only 27 years old, with plenty of time to collect a few rings.
It’s okay to hate LeBron. There is no rule that forces fans to appreciate an exceptional basketball player’s talent. But if you show your feelings too adamantly, you might look like the fool who had the guts to think the cheerleader across the room could actually like someone who had cooties.