“In this fall…this is very tough…in this fall I’m going to take my talents to South Beach and join the Miami Heat. I feel like it’s going to give me the best opportunity to win and to win for multiple years, and not only just to win in the regular season or just to win five games in a row or three games in a row, I want to be able to win championships. And I feel like I can compete down there.”—LeBron James
Am i a LeBron hater? it wasn’t always like that.
i used to like LeBron. as a young buck in the league he was a seriously impressive physical specimen. 6’8, body built like an NFL running back, incredible vertical, amazingly high basketball IQ, and he had personality.not as polished as a duke educated Grant Hill, but affable nonetheless.
LeBron in his first few years in the league was a breath of fresh air. at a time when all that was on sports websites was about the ugly Kobe-Shaq feud, coupled with the ugliness of the malice in the palace the next year. there was no end to LeBron James’ highlights and record breaking performances, and to be quite honest, i totally enjoyed them.I remember the first time he passed to a teammate in the 4th quarter of a critical play off game against the pistons, he got tons of heat from the likes of Barkley, and Reggie Miller who said he should’ve taken the shot, but i admired James for forgoing a game winner in favor of team basketball.This at a time when Kobe was either taking too many shots, or just refused to take a shot in the 4th quarter of an elimination play off game. LeBron was playing his role to perfection, young, hungry, competitive, multiple all star, a superstar on the rise.he let his game do the talking and it was jawdropping performance after another. maybe he really was as good as advertised.
Then suddenly, he started referring to himself in the third person. he started buying into all the hype. after the 2005 playoffs in a loss to the defending champion detroit pistons, LeBron negotiated a deal with the cavaliers for a contract extension for less money, but would allow him to be an unrestricted free agent in 2010.it was not well hyped at that time, but the raptor’s Chris Bosh and the Heat’s Dwayne Wade structured their contract extensions the same way.
2007 was the year that LeBron finally overcame the pistons in the same way that MJ overcame the detroit badboys en route to his first finals appearance. and LeBron exploded into the stratosphere, his “brand” now universally recognized. although swept out of the finals, there was no denying that LeBron was a certified superstar.
2008 however, brought a new eastern superpower in the mold of the Celtics’ big three. Danny Ainge engineered a draft day trade that saw Kevin Garnett Ray Allen and Paul Pierce teaming up together to form the Nucleus of Boston’s championship run in 2008 along with Rajon Rondo and Kendrick Perkins in the starting 5. many point to this and say, how come there was no flack and heavy criticism when this three was formed? well, it was because it wasn’t formed out of collusion, the three didn’t plan it, nor hyped it. nor boasted of multiple titles together. but more on that later.
I felt that LeBron after dealing with the pistons for the earlier years of his career, to finally break through and have a taste of an NBA finals series, would now be hungrier for more. and he continued to shine.in 2008 He continued to amaze as he became the youngest player to amass 10,000 points. he scored 43 points in game 7 against the celtics in a now classic ECF semifinal elimination match. the Celtics went on to win the title that year. in 2009, he won his first of Three regular season MVP award but his cavaliers were once again ousted in the ECF, this time by the Orlando Magic led by Dwight Howard. LeBron got a lot of criticism for walking off the court after being eliminated without shaking the victors’ hands, he attributed this to the fact that
“LeBron James is a winner. It’s hard for me to congratulate somebody after you just lose to them, I’m a winner. It’s not being a poor sport or anything like that. If somebody beats you up, you’re not going to congratulate them. … I’m a competitor. That’s what I do. It doesn’t make sense for me to go over and shake somebody’s hand.”
In 2010 the cavaliers traded for Shaq who promptly declared that his mission was to “win a ring for the king” AntawnJamison was acquired at the trade deadline to bolster the Cavalier’s front court and suddenly, it seemed highly possible that this supporting cast might finally win LeBron James’ first championship ring. unfortunately no one told that to the Celtics. Although the Cavs finished the season with the best regular season record and James won his second MVP title, they lost to the celtics in the ECF semifinals after a dismal game 5 home game which saw him shoot 3-15 in Cleveland’s worst post season debacle. the Cavs were eliminated a game after when they showed up in boston with no fight, no spunk, and having their “King” record 9 turnovers.
But the highlight of that 2010 season was the fact that cleveland did everything it could for LeBron to stay, they got Shaq, they got Jamison, they waited patiently on LeBron to sign his contract extension and fired head coach Mike Brown eleven days after the abysmal post season finish to appease “The King”.
LeBron held his team, his city, his fans hostage in the offseason of 2010 before doing “The Decision” on ESPN, and the floodgates opened. I won’t go into all that, because everything that happened is already common knowledge, the heat formed a super team and everyone else was supposed to bow down the the King and his court.
I am often asked, If i have followed LeBron’s career since he entered the league, and actually admit admiring his accomplishments, why do i continually blast him? just because of decisiongate? when that was already two years ago? well, i think it was more than just that
It was more of how arrogantly he conducts himself, more about after losing to the Celtics in 2010, hecomes out wearing a shirt that read in big bold letters, LBJ MVP.
it was more about blaming his shortcomings on other people, even going as far as saying that the backlash from his televised decision was “race related” it’s more about how they strutted and acted like rock gods when being introduced as members of the Miami Heat, boasting about winning multiple championships, when they haven’t really won anything yet.
There are a lot of superstars in the league who do not act the way James and Bosh and Wade do. while LeBron and Co. were promising multiple championships in a smoke and laser show to the adoring Miami crowd, Kevin Durant sent out a tweet saying he was happy to sign an extension with small market team Oklahoma City, during the last all star game, Derrick Rose stood on stage at player introductions while James, Wade,Howard and Anthony danced and acted like idiots. when asked afterwards why he didn’t join in, Rose simply said, the All Star game is not the proper place to dance around. Perhaps, it is mostly because of his penchant of choking in games, even during an all star game where nothing was at stake, with Kobe derisively daring him to take the shot but turns the ball over instead
At the beginning of his career i thought that LeBron was just being a team player when he would pass to an open man during crunch time. he was double teamed, he saw someone who had a better shot, he passed. but then as his accomplishments grow, so do expectations. if you crown yourself as King, then you have to start manning up and owning games. you can’t just play well enough to give yourself a chance to win as he oh so often states in post game interviews, you have to will yourself to win. but he does not. He said he wanted to go to Miami to be able to compete, but what he did that diminished everyone’s view of him was to chuck off the responsibility to a collective, while still preening as the king. yes he still gets his points his all star appearances, his MVP awards but he will never be the Man who went out and got it done, or at least the man who tried his all to do it on a team with no other legit superstar.
Maybe the media is to be blamed as well, for saturating the public with LeBron. for always comparing him to Jordan. People like Chris Palmer who stated that LeBron is better than Bird ever was, or who pulls up statistics of individual performances and say, LeBron is better than Jordan at this age, how they gloss over his disappearing act in the 4th quarter of crucial games. in the end, LeBron will get a ring, probably even multiple rings. but when all is said and done, he will never be half the champion that magic, or bird or Jordan were, even as modern scribes tout him as the best and continue to lay accolades at his feet. because he may have all the physical attributes to be the greatest, but he does not have the grace, the mental toughness, the jump into the abyss bravado of these champions. he will never have their championship heart and testicular fortitude. that is because he was coddled for too long. it’s because he is too scared to take the game in his own hands at crunch time, because that’s not why he signed up with miami. he signed up with miami to take the easy way out. In my book as long as he keeps doing that, he may win his rings someday, maybe even this year, but he will never be a champion in the truest sense of the word.
I don’t hate LeBron James, I pity the wasted greatness he has become.