The NBA Corner: Get Over It, LeBron Haters
In Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals, LeBron James proved yet again that he’s currently the greatest player on the planet. His incredible Game 6 performance on the road shut up (most of) his critics that falsely claimed he had never won a big game. After all, the dude has appeared in the NBA Finals twice. Time and again, he’s proven that he’s one of the NBA’s greatest players.
Time and again, he’s also proven that he’s one of the world’s biggest douches.
Between accepting being crowned “King James” before ever playing a pro game, getting “The Chosen One” tattooed on his back, and The Decision debacle, it’s obvious James has very little self-awareness and, moreover, the more he tries to win people over, the more they hate him. He’s been anointed as the savior of basketball since he was placed on the cover of Sports Illustrated at 16 years old and that will give anyone a warped sense of self. LeBron James is the poster child for a generation that has been told that everything they do is amazing. He’s a douche. Everyone hates him.
It’s time to get over it.
First of all, he didn’t stab any city in the back. LeBron played out his contract (after signing an extension, by the way) and then made a free market decision to go play elsewhere. People do it every day in every other profession. Was announcing it on television an incredibly stupid thing to do? Yes. Should that dictate that America hates him for the rest of his life? No.
Secondly, while he, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh participated in that ridiculous Heat coronation/celebration party before the start of last season, that wasn’t his idea. Famously saying, “Not five, not six, not seven…” was another stupid thing to say, but he’s not the first one to say something stupid. Patrick Ewing used to guarantee a victory every postseason and he was almost always wrong. Had LeBron not promised a championship, critics would have undoubtedly given him shit for not believing in his abilities like Kobe Bryant.
Third, he is what every fan wants in a player. He loves his teammates and they love him. He plays hard every game. He knows the history of the game. He wants to win. What’s not to like? Not only is he held to a higher standard, he’s held to a double standard. Kevin Garnett is a bully that compared Charlie Villanueva to a cancer patient and trash talks every player in the league, but when James laughs at his intimidation attempts, he’s the asshole?
Finally, in a sports landscape that is littered with athletes that use their celebrity to do whatever they want, he seems to be mostly a homebody. He doesn’t send his one-night stands home with gift baskets like Derek Jeter. He’s never been in any sort of legal trouble, unlike many of his contemporaries that have been charged with domestic abuse, DUI’s, shooting up strip clubs, or worse. Most people reading this right now are Baltimore Ravens fans and they get pissed when someone brings up what Ray Lewis did after Super Bowl XXXIV, but if LeBron had been wearing a white suit that had never been found, most Americans would have wanted to charge him with treason. I’m not picking on Lewis, I’m just making the point that our opinions change based on our personal perspectives.
LeBron James may be a douche, but his transgressions are minor in comparison to what many of his peers do on a regular basis. It’s time to get over your hatred of LeBron. Even if he never wins a championship, we’re witnessing a once-in-a-generation specimen that is trying to beat the entire world with a supporting cast of role players that couldn’t get run at the local YMCA.
So stop hating and stop enjoying LeBron before it’s too late.
Pierzy is the author of The Hip-Hop 10: The Best of the Best that Shaped the Music and the Culture, which can be ordered on Amazon here. He writes a weekly NBA column during the season, as well as columns revolving around other sports, hip-hop, movies, TV shows, food, beer, marriage, (impending) fatherhood, and a variety of other topics. You can follow him on Twitter here.