After a miserable performance in Game 4, and the most insignificant triple double you’ll ever see in Game 5, LeBron James is absorbing the wrath of the sports world. Although it may feel like the right thing to do, don’t pity “King James.”
Earlier this week I defended LeBron. I argued his Game 3 performance didn’t deserve the ridicule and harassment he received. Two days later, LeBron proved I’m an idiot. The naysayers were right. Surprisingly, I felt bad for LeBron.
As I watched him completely disappear (again) in the 4th quarter of Game 5, I dreaded the beating he would take from newspapers, websites, blogs, radio, and TV. So the guy isn’t going to be Michael Jordan. Big deal. Leave him alone.
And then I remembered… this was LeBron’s doing. He wanted this.
The difference between LeBron and Isaiah Rider, Harold Miner, Penny Hardaway and any other young player labeled “The Next Jordan,” is that none of the latter arrogantly embraced the title. LeBron, in so many ways, did.
LeBron reveled in the idea he was the NBA’s savior and would one day wear the crown of “Best Ever.” He believed the Nike propaganda that, “We are all witnesses.” He referred to himself as “The King.” The man even had “The Chosen One” tattooed across his back. Last summer, LeBron spurned his hometown on national TV, casually spoke about winning seven titles as if the league would simply bow at his feet, and publicly blamed his teammates in Cleveland, saying they weren’t good enough to get where he wanted to go.
So yeah, don’t feel bad for the heat LeBron is taking. When you blame others for your failures, make a spectacle of your free agency as if you’re the greatest thing that could ever happen to a city, and allow the sports world to shower you with fame, money, and undeserved comparisons; well, you deserve whatever’s coming to you.
You deserve to be trashed for completely disappearing when your team needed you most. You deserve to be called “LeFraud” when you pass on nearly every opportunity in the 4th quarter throughout the NBA Finals.
The truth is LeBron doesn’t go down swinging. Instead, he believes that, by not taking shots, he can’t be held as liable if/when his team fails. In other words, LeBron calls for a pinch hitter in the bottom of the 9th when his team trails by one with two outs and a man on second. He wants nothing to do with the pressure of that moment.
But here’s the thing, LeBron. Jordan didn’t become great by standing in the corner. Kobe Bryant didn’t win 5 titles by letting Pau Gasol do the heavy lifting. Tim Duncan didn’t need Manu Ginobili or Tony Parker to dominate in the NBA Finals. No sir. Jordan, Kobe, and Duncan stood on the front line, hoisted their respective teams on their back, and led them to victory. Win or lose, you knew those three players would have a say.
Right now, the NBA Finals is being played out between Dirk Nowitzki and Dwyane Wade. LeBron James is merely a side show. As harsh as that may be, it’s the unavoidable truth. And feeling bad for LeBron is a waste of time. He craved the attention. He wanted to be the global icon. So far, he’s come up short in every way possible.
Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Speak softly and carry a big stick.”
LeBron James speaks haughtily and carries a twirler’s baton.