LeBron james is Underrated.
Sadly, at one point in time I believed that ignorant statement to be fairly accurate.
Fast-forwarding a year beyond the catastrophe that was “The Decision”, I am beginning to reminisce of the days of yore when Clevelanders believed LeBron James would lead them to the promised land. A city filled with misery and hopeless dreams hasn’t seen a championship since the Indians in 1948.
The “chosen one” from Akron proudly proclaimed, “My goal is to win a championship for the city Cleveland”. So much for that. The animosity for LeBron has increased dramatically post-Decision and many were vigorously delighted to see the Miami Heat lose in the NBA Finals.
It only seems fitting that he who spurned the city that loved him unconditionally would see such a decline in popularity and marketability. Sure, over time it may fade to some degree, but currently the disdain for James is incomparable to that of any other player in the NBA.
Real fans of the NBA (other than the multitude of Heat band-wagoners) have come to see James for the egotistical, selfish overpaid and overindulging athlete that he has become. He has truly become the villain of a league that has very few to name. (Kevin Garnett cough cough)
Rewind the VHS 7 years ago, when the lovable LeBron came into the league and all of the world proclaimed his greatness. We in Cleveland looked past his inconsistent jumper, disappointing 3 point shot and we disregarded his habit of dribbling the ball at the top of the key until he felt like bricking another shot. We didn’t see anything wrong with his insane mother and her scheming plans. We even overlooked the embarrassment of being swept in the NBA finals. Through it all, Cleveland fans would support the best regular season player in basketball. We irrationally thought that he would return the favor when he finally became a free agent, but that wouldn’t be the case.
In what should be considered the most heinous act of disloyalty seen since Benedict Arnold, LeBron tore out our hearts on National Television, wearing that stupid plaid shirt and awful chin-strap facial hair look on ESPN. “Man, this is hard.”
No LeBron, it wasn’t hard. You and your super friends decided to play together, and Miami was the place to go. “Not 3, not 4, not 5, not 6 or 7” championships would the superteam bring to South Beach.
And thus, we booed him mercilessly when he returned to Cleveland December 2nd.
I would argue that no player has ever seen such venom and pure hate than was shown to LeBron when he made his fateful return. I should know, I was among the 20,000 enraged Cavs fans at that game.
Karma has a way of coming back to haunt the prideful, and exactly that happened for Gloria’s son as they failed in the NBA finals. Predictably, LeBron came up short and disappeared when his team needed him most. He scored close to 0 points in the 4th quarter of the Finals, and failed to show up to wihout question what were the biggest games of his career.
With the emergence of Dirk Nowitzki, Kevin Durant and others, there are certainly equally talented players with better character to cheer for.
The LeBron brand has taken an unprecented hit and the most marketable player in basketball is now the most hated. Should we feel bad? Absolutely not, however we should realize that someday soon, LeBron will miss the unconditional support shown by his only true fans, the ones he ditched for South Beach. Hey Number 6, it's not the surrounding players that are the problem. Your inability to perform to your potential is.
Maybe the NBA lockout won’t be the worst thing for the Heat and LeBron. Give the average fan some time to remove themselves from the game, and the hate will be less pronounced when basketball inevitably does return. Not that the Heat will fare any better when basketball resumes. After all, shrinking in big moments and consistently orchestrating an epic playoff collapse is unavoidable for The King with no Bling, as it is the only thing LeBron seems to know how to do.