The FIFA World Cup officials have been pardoned. Terrell Owens may rest peacefully at night. Even Tiger Woods can finally start focusing on golf. LeBron James is the new sports villain.
Villain? Really? Isn’t that a little harsh for an athlete that simply left a team to further his career and pursue championships? Yes, villain is harsh and unwarranted. LeBron did what hundreds of athletes do every year; leave a team for more money or a better opportunity. LeBron saw what was in store for him in Cleveland – a mediocre team with little opportunity to compete for a title in the near future. LeBron has stated over and over again that he wants to win. Thus, he left the Cavaliers to compete for titles as a member of the Miami Heat. I have absolutely no issue with LeBron leaving. I would leave too. Leaving Cleveland didn’t make LeBron a villain; it made him a professional athlete.
It’s the way LeBron left Cleveland that made him a villain, an ego-centered imbecile, and a heartless diva. Donating $2.5 million to a national charity won’t forgive the shamelessness of LeBron’s self-serving telecast. He might as well have sat there with both middle fingers extended for the full hour. He screwed Cleveland, he screwed the NBA, he screwed his legacy, and he unknowingly screwed himself. The king looked more like court jester on Thursday night.
If it’s true that LeBron knew he was headed to Miami since his season ended, then he truly is a dog. You have some serious vanity issues if you allow five other franchises to court you and tell you how great you are while all along knowing you’d be heading elsewhere. No person with an ounce of humility would concoct such a situation, and only a person with no awareness would allow it to play out to completion.
There’s no defending LeBron on this. I agree he doesn’t owe Cleveland anything, but they certainly don’t owe him anything either. He came to Cleveland a high school kid with no titles. He left Cleveland an NBA superstar with no titles. To recap; in terms of winning, LeBron accomplished nothing. He left a loser.
When he referred to himself in the third person on his hour long telecast (that was as awkward and painful as a colonoscopy), it became painfully clear that this guy is out of control. He’s been babied, spoiled, and gone undisciplined for his entire career. So naturally, when it came to choosing a destination, he chose where he thought he could win titles the easiest. Maybe the great LeBron James isn’t as confident in his abilities as he would like us all to believe.
What LeBron doesn’t understand is that winning titles isn’t easy. It wasn’t easy for Jordan, Bird, Magic, Isiah, Duncan, Kobe, Shaq, or anyone else. Jordan didn’t flee Chicago after struggling to reach the Finals in the early stages of his career, nor did Tim Duncan join forces with Grant Hill in Orlando as age began to creep up on the 2000 San Antonio Spurs. Both managed to capture multiple titles because they overcame. They were true champions. Running to a stacked team doesn’t guarantee championships either. Just ask Karl Malone or Gary Payton.
If it truly was LeBron’s desire to focus on winning and become one of the all time greats, Miami won’t help him. He’ll probably win a few titles, but he’ll undoubtedly hear whispers for the rest of his life about how he needed Wade to capture those titles. His legacy as a player will always have a “needed Dwyane Wade to win title” asterisk beside it, and now his legacy as an individual will always include, “stabbed home city in the back by spurning them for Miami on national TV” – on a telecast HE created nonetheless.
To become legendary, Chicago or New Jersey was the right destination. In either city he would play with young talent and they could all grow into a championship team…HIS team. As Kobe will attest, winning NBA titles as a sidekick doesn’t do much for your “one of the all time greats” resume until you begin adding your own titles on top. So, instead of pursuing his own legacy, LeBron will be riding Wade’s curtails for the foreseeable future. Only time will tell if he ever finds his mojo as the alpha dog on a championship team.
Until then, LeBron James will champion the position of sports greatest villain. And that is no one’s fault but his own.