Nothing can make me like LeBron James. I don’t care if he is a champion now. I don’t care if he is the NBA Finals MVP. I don’t care if he put up one of the greatest playoff performances ever this year. I don’t care if he helped Shane Battier get a ring. I don’t care if he overcame the worst cramps in human history to do it. I don’t care if he’s humbler, happier, and more mature than he was two years ago. I don’t care if spends his off-season saving small children from burning buildings. Nothing can make me like him.
And yet the tide is turning in his favor. Throughout the year, fans and sportswriters seemed to be letting up on LeBron, as if the statute of limitations on detesting him had run out. Seth Davis, of Sports Illustrated, seemed to make this argument almost explicitly. And now that James finally has his ring, I suspect the intense fandom that lined up behind whichever team happened to be playing the Heat will die down a bit; it’s not as fun to root against something that’s already happened. Continue reading »
Is choosing teammates worse than inheriting them?
I don’t want to be put in the position of defending LeBron James. As I’ve said, I’m not happy about his decision—it’s basically a sports tragedy. So while I generally agree with those criticizing him, I can’t help but notice some unfair attacks.
Most of these deal with claims about LeBron’s personality. Fans have a tendency to do this a lot: They project personality traits and character flaws onto athletes based on no real knowledge of the players as individuals. If a player strikes out in a key situation, he must be unable to handle pressure. If a basketball player misses the open man, he must be a selfish person. If a football player happens to be the quarterback of a team that loses, he must not be a motivated individual. In a few instances, there is some merit to this—sports would not be nearly as special if it didn’t give us insights into the human psyche.
Far more often, though, it is utter schlock. Continue reading »
What we read while taking our talents to South Beach…
LeBron James hanging up his Cavs jersey
It isn’t often that a player is accused of being selfish for taking less money in order to win championships. It isn’t often that a player is accused of being self-aggrandizing for holding a special that donates all proceeds to charity. It isn’t often that a player is accused of letting an entire city down after pretty much single-handedly leading his team to consecutive 60-win seasons.
But then again, LeBron James isn’t a normal basketball player, so comparing him to what “often” happens probably doesn’t make much sense.
There was something undeniably disappointing about the way LeBron’s decision played out yesterday. Maybe it was because of the slow, gradual, yet inevitable way it all played out: It went from possibly Miami, to probably Miami, to almost certainly Miami. By the time LeBron actually sat down for his interminable interview with Jim Gray, the outcome was all but certain, even if everyone was hoping that LeBron would justify our collective denial.
But it’s hard to see it being as disappointing if the gradually leaking information had all indicated that LeBron would return to Cleveland, or even that he would go to New York. No, there was something uniquely disappointing about LeBron signing with Miami, just one day after Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh announced their plans to play in South Beach.
So why, exactly, was this so disappointing? Was LeBron’s behavior really “selfish”? Did he really “betray” the city of Cleveland? Continue reading »
What ever happened to LeBron James?
Remember old LeBron? You know, Cute, Innocent LeBron? The LeBron who covered up his tattoos when he played on national television for his high school team while appearing on the cover of Sports Illustrated? The LeBron who was ruled ineligible because he accepted all those gifts and then allowed to play because the game was supposed to be on TV?
Yeah, where’d that selfless LeBron go?
I am personally offended by this new, egocentric LeBron James. Betrayed, even. I was all set to spend my Thursday night enriching myself with a thorough rereading of The Brothers Karamazov between commercials of a CSI: rerun. Continue reading »