LeBron got his.
I used to be a “fan” of LeBron in his Cleveland days. Then he was the most talented guy I’d seen since MJ who played unselfishly and appeared destined for the Hall of Fame, accolades, championships, everything. The question wasn’t when, it was how many and for how long. I obviously wasn’t OK when he would beat my Bulls, but outside of that, I was OK with him being the NBA’s best.
Then Cleveland failed to put a team around him. People forget that sometimes. Some people hold that against LBJ still, not just the way he did it, but the actual act of leaving Cleveland. Sure it sucked, but he had to do what he did. People say “<HoFer X would never have left <city y>”! Well, Jordan, Bird, Magic all had great teams built around them organically. MJ had Pippen, Horace, Rodman. Bird had McHale, Parish, DJ. Magic had Worthy, Kareem. LBJ had…Antawn Jamison and Mo Williams? He had to leave.
Obviously, how he did it, then what happened immediately after he did it are the real good reasons to dislike the man. Turning his free agency into a bad informercial, then guaranteeing a staggering number of championships without having played a game turns entire sports’ fanbases against you. Even non-NBA fans hear what happened and shake their heads, “That ain’t right.” Not only that, but he also brought the magnifying glass squarely on himself and his team in doing so.
It’s always entertaining to watch greatness be great. From an athletic standpoint, that’s what we watched LBJ do last night and throughout the playoffs. There’s no basketball reason to dislike or question his place in the NBA now. We wanted to see him attack more, he did. We wanted to see a post game, he has one and uses it. We wanted to see 4th quarter heroics, he’s delivered. We wanted to see the greatest player of our time, and he is emphatically it, no question. LeBron’s 2012 playoffs rank among the best ever.
And there was a part of me that was a little happy for him and the Heat, watching this huge burden be lifted. They all said the right things, too. Wade recognized last year as the Mavericks’ year. Lots of self-aware talk like “it’s about god damn time” and “we were immature/playing with hate/etc” was all over the place. LeBron looks like a little kid who finally got his wish, and also like a tired man whose biggest pressure has been lifted, yet the weight still feels there.
But they brought it all on themselves. Watching someone overcome adversity is one thing. Watching someone overcome adversity they put in their own way is…not the same.
The haters will remain, at least some. One won’t be enough. It was a shortened season. They could have been more dominant along the way. There will be people who will find a problem with what just happened. And that’s OK.
He got one. Now’s the real test. Can he do it again.
I can’t say I won’t have fun watching.