From The Press Box: Title in hand, LeBron quiets phantom demonsJune 22, 2012
I’ve never considered myself a rebel. In fact, anymore, I’m a pretty boring guy.
I take naps with reckless abandon, refuse to buy something at the grocery store without staring at the nutritional label for five minutes and become irate every time I’m passed on narrow Kellerville Road in Jasper by some person who, obviously, is on his way to something mega-important.
But Thursday night I was doing something most sports fans wouldn’t approve of: rooting for LeBron James and the Miami Heat to finish off the Oklahoma City Thunder and win the NBA Finals.
I’m evil, you must be thinking. After all, I was cheering for LeBron James, who’s been behind so many despicable acts.
Only one thing. Please remind me what those are again.
He doesn’t respond to verbal or physical taunts from fans, most recently when a Boston fan spilled a beer on him during the Eastern Conference Finals. Not once has SportsCenter led with him being arrested for DUI or assault or any other violent crime. And in case I’m missing something, his on-court approach to basketball is the most well-rounded since Magic Johnson.
Detractors say he passes too much. Wow, what a weasel. OK, so part of me wishes LeBron possessed that I’m-going-to-rip-your-heart-out look Michael Jordan trademarked during his career, but coming in second behind Jordan in, well, anything, isn’t an indictment as much as it is a compliment.
And no, I haven’t forgotten about “The Decision,” James’ self-indulged one-hour television special a few years ago during which he infamously proclaimed: “I’m going to take my talents to South Beach.”
James has since stated he’d have done things differently, though he didn’t conduct some devious act that needs reversed.
He did raise $5 million for the local Boys and Girls Club, remember?
Granted, kids living in Greenwich, Conn., where the press conference was held, aren’t the most needy in the country — the mean family income was a touch less than $170,000 as of five years ago — but if raising $5 million for charity is one of the worst things that happened that night, I can live with that.
Besides, why harbor any ill will against James for that histrionic performance when ESPN broadcasts high school seniors on the same platform when they declare where they’re playing college football? Being able to run past defensive backs and steamroll offensive linemen who wouldn’t make most Division II squads is worthy of getting your own spotlight on ESPN, but being the best basketball player in the world doesn’t?
Somebody much smarter than me needs to explain how that makes sense.
More than anything else, “The Decision” was reality television. Miami was the last beautiful woman standing when LeBron handed out the last rose. Congratulations, Heat fans. To everyone else: Better luck next offseason with a new smorgasbord of free agents.
If “The Decision” made you want to puke and yet you still watch “American Idol,” “Dancing with the Stars” or any show of similar ilk, congratulations on being a hypocrite.
So no, I’m not going to concede “The Decision” should prompt someone to root against him, not even Cleveland fans.
What, should LeBron have stayed in Cleveland to ensure the successful future of local sports bars? Or to deliver a championship to fans who lit his jersey on fire 30 seconds after he left? I could easily supply another dozen examples of why LeBron made a brilliant decision to leave Cleveland, but no use getting sidetracked.
The main thrust of this argument is that LeBron hasn’t deserved even a scintilla of the criticism that has accompanied his last two years in Miami.
Basically, it all comes down to this: When you happen to be the best in the world at what you do, typical rules don’t apply.
In some cases, that’s bad. Guys wearing ugly suits go on national television and spit venom while trying to convince the public of things that simply aren’t true.
Sometimes they’re even successful in that endeavor.
But the good part of being LeBron James is you get to laugh when you win the title.
And the kicker? The guys in ugly suits still talk about you as you laugh while relaxing where you decided to take your talents.
LeBron wins any way you look at it.
Herald sports writer John Patishnock can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or
482-2626 ext. 118.
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