This will likely be an unpopular article, but it needs to be written.
People don't like LeBron James, and I get that, for a few reasons.
- The Decision. It was incredibly insensitive towards Cleveland, attention seeking and epitomized the "look at me" attitude of a lot of present day stars.
- "Not one, not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, not seven..". LeBron predicted his team would win a bunch of championships, and he's only won two in four seasons.
- Random other jackass comments. The worst for me was after the Mavs beat him in 2011:
"All the people that was rooting on me to fail, at the end of the day they have to wake up tomorrow and have the same life that they had before they woke up today," James said Sunday.
"They have the same personal problems they had today. I'm going to continue to live the way I want to live and continue to do the things that I want to do with me and my family and be happy with that. They can get a few days or a few months or whatever the case may be on being happy about not only myself, but the Miami Heat not accomplishing their goal, but they have to get back to the real world at some point."
I mean, can you be more of an asshole than that? It's tough.
So again, this article is not about trying to make anyone like or embrace LeBron. Personally, I think some of these things are overblown (the Decision was idiotic, but at least he gave the $6.5 million proceeds to charity, that counts for something; also jokingly guaranteeing eight rings never really bothered me. The post-Mavs series comments on the other hand were incredibly immature and dickish), but he has certainly invited a lot of this upon himself.
Instead, I want to talk about how he's being attacked.
If you're someone who just does not like him as a guy -- all the more power to you. Same goes if you just hate the concept of a super team like the Heat just assembled (although I do have more to say on this). I've rooted against Miami for four straight years, and if they keep the band together you can be sure that will become five next year.
However, this isn't enough for some people. They come after him as a basketball player, trying to lessen his greatness, trying to say he's somehow a disappointment. This is who this article is for. Below are some of the ridiculous arguments against LeBron, and why I think they're insane.
"Real superstars would never have left Cleveland"
- BS. LeBron played seven seasons in Cleveland, and the best the Cavs could do to put talent around him was overpay the likes of Larry Hughes, Antawn Jamison and Mo Williams. All of these other "loyal" stars had GMs that put the right talent around them early on. Magic had Kareem when he got to LA. Jordan got Pippen in his fourth season. Bird got McHale and Parrish in year two. Wade got Shaq in year two. Sure, LeBron showed he wasn't KG level loyal -- but why is he expected to take the hardest road possible when he could go pair with other star type players? Yes, the concept of a super team sucks, but what is really the difference between that and what the 2008 Celtics did? That they did it via free agency? The Celtics traded for two guys using all of their assets, the Heat dumped all their assets to create the cap space necessary. Expecting LeBron to toil away in Cleveland because "MJ woulda done it!" is insane. If the Cavs had drafted an all-time great side kick in 2006, LeBron would still be in Cleveland and he'd very likely have a ring there.
"He's 2-3 in the Finals"
- Hey did you know that MJ went 6-0 in the Finals while LeBron is 2-3? What a bum! No great player would ever lose in the Finals. You know, like Magic (4 Finals losses), Kareem (4), Wilt (3), Shaq (2), Kobe (2), or Bird (2). Why has losing in the last round of the playoffs become the mark of a failure? Isn't making it to the Finals better than say, losing in round one of the playoffs? Because MJ lost in the first round three times, and LeBron never has. Does that mean LeBron is better? (Of course not. MJ is a better player than LeBron, but to say that it's because of Finals record is asinine.) Was Jordan really such a marketing genius that he realized losing earlier in the playoffs would somehow be forgotten as long as you never committed the cardinal sin of winning 12 playoff games to win your Conference before losing? This whole concept is lazy and irrational. Let me lay this out for you.
Winning the title > losing in the Finals > losing in the Conference Finals > losing in round two > losing in round one > not making the playoffs
That is not arguable.
"Yea but true greats would never get blown out in the Finals"
- Got this on twitter the other night. That losing in five games was a sign of weakness, that the other greats would at least push the series longer. If LeBron had played poorly, I could see this, but the guy averaged 28/8/4 while shooting 57/51/79 during the series. His teammates disintegrated, he was consistently great. And just for reference, Magic was twice swept in the Finals and once lost in five. Kareem was swept twice. Shaq was swept once and lost in five once. Kobe lost in five once and lost a clincher by 4,568 points vs the Celtics. Besides MJ and Bill Russell -- this happened to everyone. While Duncan has never gotten crushed in the Finals, he was once swept in a Conference Finals by the Lakers -- a series in which he had home court advantage -- by a total of 89 points (22.3 per game). Even all-time greats get their asses kicked, especially when their supporting casts fall flat on their faces.
"LeBron admitted that winning two titles in four seasons was a success, no true winner would admit that"
- First off, four Finals in four seasons with two titles is pretty damn good. How many other teams have done that in the last twenty-five years? But that aside, does it really matter that LeBron didn't get up there, stomp his feet, and declare that they should have won all four titles? Did you watch him play? Guy played hard, played 42 minutes a night and dominated the vast majority of his time. Could he have handled it better? Probably. But that seems to be his biggest problem, that he can't help himself and puts his foot in his mouth sometimes. This does not impact his play on the court, and if you think it does, you're a crazy person.
Am I trying to say that LeBron is blame free? No, he's the best player in the world and didn't win it all, he deserves some level of blame. But just admit that you can't stand LeBron the guy, and use these lazy, Skip Bayless-driven reasons to try and prove that not only is he a douche, but he's really not even that good. That all-time greats would never leave their city, never lose in the Finals, and that they'd certainly never get crushed in the Finals. Because all of that is bogus.
No rational human being thinks LeBron is better than MJ (at least I've never met one), so constantly using the greatest player of all-time as the measuring stick is just absurd. Very few players have accomplished more in their 20s than LeBron, and he's probably going to go back to the Finals five more times, winning a few more. And in all honesty -- I enjoy the James era. I enjoy rooting against him as a villain, but also can appreciate that we're seeing a sure fire top ten player of all-time who has a shot to enter the top-five. Constantly hating because he's not number one is a sad way to go through life. Like having an awesome meal and immediately yelling "yea but that one meal I had in 1998 was better so who really cares". It perplexes me that people think like this.
If you want to hate on LeBron the guy, go for it. Just don't bring LeBron the player into it..you look silly.
P.S. Promise this is the first and last ode to LeBron. Had to get this straight/off my chest. I am just as "LeBroned out" as you guys, but I was going to be cranky until I wrote it.
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For more of my articles, click here Michael Dyer 6/17/2014 06:43:00 PM Tweet