LeBron James is on the verge of winning an NBA championship. Many people in the media would have included the words “finally” or “first” in that statement, working under the assumption that he should have won more by now if only he had better teammates or that he certainly will win more.
These are the same people who pretend to have no clue as to why James is reviled by so many. They scream things like “get over it” when people respond with obvious reasons like the fact that he did The Decision, a prime time announcement on ESPN announcing where he was going in free agency almost two years ago that was the height of arrogance.
What I don’t have a clue about is why these guys seem so unbelievably emotional in defending James. They’re outraged that anyone dare to question their suggestions that he is one of the all-time greats.
Locally, we have Mike Missanelli, a guy I usually enjoy listening to, who has turned being a LeBron lap dog into an art form. He constantly introduces the topic of James’ supposed greatness on his sports talk show only to obnoxiously dismiss any naysayers as “haters.” It’s at the point of being childish on his part to even discuss the topic.
No doubt I’d be labeled a “hater” – one of the most idiotic terms in the hip-hop culture, by the way – for my views. Yet, I lost one of my biggest picks ever on the Heat in last year’s NBA Finals and, while I didn’t make it a blog pick, let’s just say I thought the Heat at +220 to win the series after they lost the first game was absurdly high and I will more than repair the damage in my own “points” total from last year’s loss if the Heat win one of the next three games.
I have the apparent audacity to think great players are competitors at heart, something James simply is not. Instead of wanting to prove his so-called greatness by winning a title in Cleveland, he worked to create his own personal “Dream Team” in Miami with Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh. While I’ve always said it was ridiculous to put Bosh in a category with those two players – and it certainly is – the message from James was clear: I need to be part of a puzzle to win.
Of course, if those were the words actually coming out of his mouth, he might not be reviled by so many fans. Instead, James was busy telling the world how his wonderful life would go on uninterrupted after his failures in last year’s Finals while implying his critics had nothing left to do but return to their mundane lives. This was a year after his media lap dogs excused his participation in The Decision based on a lack of advisors. His arrogance reared its very ugly head just this week when he responded to a rather mild criticism of his defense, which was actually a compliment to the Heat team defense, by calling his opponent “stupid.”
Ironically, his lap dogs make James all the more “hateable.” James absolutely disappeared every fourth quarter in last year’s Finals, and now every time he dribbles without losing the ball off his knee in the late stages of a game the media heaps lavish praise on him. Guys like Stephen A. Smith and Michael Wilbon have veins popping out of their heads shouting his praises. Yesterday, Wilbon did everything he could on PTI to compare James playing with a cramp in the fourth quarter of Game 4 to Michael Jordan playing with the flu years ago before admitting it didn’t match up. (The conversation itself is ludicrous, and I was no fan of Jordan either because he derailed the Sixers more than once.) Yet when the Heat lose, like in Game 1, these LeBron lap dogs practically hurt themselves crying about how it was everyone else’s fault.
LeBron James put the bull’s eye on his own back. When you make the statements he made and seek out teammates in a perfectly legal but sadly predetermined move that goes against every sense of competitiveness, you get criticized for coming up short. You also don’t get to have your media buddies blame the role players on the team for losses without getting ripped. When media members subjugate themselves to curry favor like fans on Twitter begging for a re-tweet, you get ripped some more.
James may be a champion after tonight.
He’ll also still be hated, and there’s absolutely no reason for anyone to wonder why.