Sports fans across the country are taking great joy in bashing Miami Heat forward Lebron James after his team was defeated in six games by the Dallas Mavericks in the 2011 National Basketball Association Finals. They have waited for almost a year to rub it into James’ face after he spurned the city of Cleveland by “taking his talents to South Beach” and hooking up with guard Dwayne Wade and center Chris Bosh. This “Big Three” then set out to tell the world how they were looking forward to winning multiple titles and made a grand introduction at a press conference before the season started.
And though fans across the country were rooting for all three to fail, the main man and lightening rod was James. He was the anointed one. The one being compared to Micheal Jordan. The one who strives to be a global icon. The one who has everything to prove. Wade already has a title and Bosh does not have the same status as either of his more celebrated teammates. So James is an easy target.
When the buzzer went off ending game six and the Mavericks walked off with the title, those who wanted to see “The Big Three”, and especiallyJames, fail got their wish. And immediately went to work bashing him.
The media jumped on him in the postgame press conference asking him if the Heat had choked (no, they were beaten by a better team). Former Cleveland Cavalier teammate Moe Williams twittered that his heart was at rest after Lebron and the Heat went down. Cavs owner Dan Gilbert tweeted to Dallas owner Mark Cuban “Old lesson to all. THERE ARE NO SHORTCUTS. NONE.” Of course television, sports radio, twitter, facebook and the internet has taken the ball and run with it. They will for a while.
And James really can’t fire back at his critics without making himself look bad. Anything he says can and will be used against him. He doesn’t have the anonymity that the fan or blogger has or the forum to back him that the media does. We don’t have to be humble. He does.
The razzing of athletes has gone on since sports began. Whether James deserves it or not, he is a prime candidate for it with his actions and lack of performance in the Finals. This will never change. But it seems as though the bashing of James has become a little too personal. People have gone beyond razzing Lebron James the basketball player to putting down the man. It should never come to this. No matter what one may think of a person.
Sure James left Cleveland for Miami. Sure he opened himself up to criticism with his televised “decision.” But everyone should have moved on from that long ago. The world didn’t end that day. A lot worse things have happened. As for the city of Cleveland, they took a hit in civic pride and their economy. But if a cities identity and economy rests on the shoulders of a professional athlete than what does that say about it and our country? The infrastructure was bad before James got there and would be bad whenever he left.
Sure James and the Heat proclaimed themselves as the odds on favorites to win the title. What else are they supposed to think? Living in the Washington D.C. metro area, I’ve heard Redskins owner Daniel Snyder proclaim this before many pro football seasons the last few years and seen their fans eat it up. And they’ve won less than James, Wade or Bosh. The bottom line is that if “The Big Three” were on most fans teams, they would have had no problem rooting for them.
Sure the Heat made themselves the story from the time that “The Big Three” got together. If nothing else, they made the NBA regular season worth watching, because people were getting tired of the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics. But the signs were there long before the Finals that Miami was not going to win it all. Their problem all season was finishing games. In the postseason your weakness is exposed sooner or later. For the Heat it was later. Dallas won every fourth quarter and the series. They did it with “Basketball 101” as I have been writing all along. They put the ball in the basket more than the Heat.
Now that the obvious has happened, the gloating has begun. Those with an interest in sports are questioning James’ heart and will to win. They are questioning whether the Heat will ever win a title with the team that they have. That’s fine.
What is wrong is the piling on. The personal joy that people are taking in seeing James fail. Not the Heat. James. How his legacy is “tarnished” now because the Heat did not win. How it’s karma that James fell short after spurning Cleveland. How James’ losing and not playing well in the Finals is a window into the man himself as if people who have never met him know who he is. How James got what he deserved, though no one deserves anything good or bad we just get what life has in store for us. Sports fans are being harder on James than we are on some crooked politicians. After all, he is only a basketball player.
It is our nature that we want to see people fail who we think are undeserving. It is our nature to judge when we shouldn’t. This is not an article written out of sympathy for Lebron James. Far from it.
It is an article written out of disappointment in those who are gloating over James for personal reasons. And there are many.
As John Rambo told Brian Dennehy’s character when he had him at knife point in the movie “First Blood.”
“Let it go. Let it go.”