LeBron James won his first NBA championship last night as the Miami Heat defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder in five games. James was the MVP of The Finals and for the time being silenced many of his critics, who range from Cleveland to anywhere a basketball can be bounced.
Anything that you read or hear from any of James’ detractors is pretty much sour grapes at this point.
That bitter taste in the mouths of Cleveland Cavaliers fans has resurfaced almost two years after James’ “Decision” to leave Ohio for South Beach. Whether you were for or against James – this day was coming. Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, whose statements resembled those of a jilted lover/slave master in the wake of James’ departure would add that his Cavs would win a title before James.
Now that LeBron James has an NBA title, should winning back some of his fan base be his next target?
If you ask why people dislike LeBron James the answer is almost universal, I don’t like what he did to Cleveland. I feel that the ESPN driven Decision program was over the top but at the same time this was an unprecedented event for an athlete of his stature. Trust me, if Michael Jordan would’ve ever made it to that point as a Chicago Bull with the potential of leaving, it would have been bigger.
Another reason is for leaving the Cavaliers to align himself with Dwayne Wade, who has spent his entire career in Miami and later Chris Bosh who left the Toronto Raptors to join his two friends in Miami. ‘The King’ was getting the serf treatment despite being the most sought-after free agent in NBA history. People fail to look at the fact that James spent seven season in Cleveland and owner Dan Gilbert never really tried to go after top players that would be able to mesh with James — an older Shaquille O’Neal and fringe players like Drew Gooden filled the bill. When it came to the top tier teams in the league, James was outclassed and outnumbered. He gave all he had to the Cavaliers organization – a good portion of the blame must lie with Gilbert.
Finally, despite the perceived arrogance that he brought to Miami, pledging to win seven championships amidst laughter and cheers, James didn’t stop — 1, 2, 3 ,4 ,5, or 6. Now the talk will be that he only has one and best believe that the public will definitely be keeping count for James.
In the wake of the backlash from fans and the media, James depicted himself as a villain in a Nike ad weeks after The Decision. One player that can relate to wearing the black hat is the Lakers Kobe Bryant, who since his sexual assault allegations in 2003 and supposed part for the trading of Shaquille O’Neal has struggled to win back a good deal of his fan base, particularly among women. For all intents and purposes Bryant has embraced the villain label and has no problem being the bad guy in the eyes of the American public. As for James, I don’t think he wants to be the villain, he just wants to play ball.
As for the hatred, the more he wins…the more it festers.
Which makes the hatred of James even harder to understand; this is a guy who has never been on a police blotter and for the most part keeps his home life out of the public eye. While his televised decision may have been over the top, this is the age of sports that we live in. We always talk about sticking it to The Man — well James did that and a ridiculous number of people have a problem with that. African-Americans in particular, in my opinion, are displaying the crab in the barrel theory to the fullest.
As long as you have guys like Skip Bayless controlling the narrative concerning LeBron James and other black athletes we will always have this debate. As a parent I believe any of us would want our child to make the best decision in their eyes, especially in a sport where they are heavily marketed.
Curt Flood sacrificed his career for players like James to test their worth as free agents regardless of how James chose to handle it.
LeBron James: 1 – Haters 0.