If the NBA Finals confirmed one thing, it’s that like him or love him – and an ESPN color map compiled before the sixth game with Dallas indicated that the majority of fans in 45 of 50 states hate him – it’s a LeBron James League.
Look at today’s headlines: The Daily News proclaimed “LeBust: King James Left Stunned as Mavs Take Title in South Beach.” The Post had “Beach Bums – L-Bron, Heat Flop in Finals as Mavs Reign.” And on ESPN.com, the lead story by Brian Windhorst is titled “The Book on LeBron: The latest chapter In LeBron’s story – which still needs a title – is the saddest yet.”
Pardon, but didn’t the Dallas Mavericks just win a spectacular upset/comeback victory?
Isn’t it an insult to the new NBA champions that everyone is so obsessed with LeBron that their achievement is mostly seen in the press as a footnote to “The LeBron Story”? That’s all ESPN.com has to say in its championship coverage is that the Mavs’ victory is just one more chapter in LeBron’s “book”?
So, if the Heat win, the story could only be “LeBron Finally Breaks the Jinx” or whatever, and if the Heat don’t win, it can’t be that the other team won but that LeBron lost. And even if LeBron was the main reason they lost – and let’s remember there were three superstars in white jerseys on the boards last night and in the final period all of them looked as lost as Sarah Palin talking about American history — the lead is still “LeBron Choked.”
Do the torrents of hatred on the web this morning seem just a tad, well, excessive? The nastiest comes from CBSNews.com, which depicts “The Loss of The Ring” with Dirk Nowitzki as Frodo and LeBron as a shrunken Golum – replete with headband. Take a look and have a chuckle. The main theme can’t be that Dirk won the ring, it has to be that LeBron lost it. Let’s ask Dirk how he feels about that.
The most dim-witted take, though, is from Alexandria Petri of The Washington Post. In “LeBron James and the clay foot brigade,” she writes: “Whenever I show up at a toy store trying to buy a small plastic figure of a hero, the pickings are slim; ‘I don’t want the clay feet’ I tell the attendant. ‘There’s a couple of Roger Federers’ in the back,’ he replies.” Alexandra, someone should tell you that Roger Federer isn’t a hero and that he doesn’t have clay feet – he’s just a great tennis player who happens to be not quite as good as Rafael Nadal these days.
Anyway, “These days the hubris comes standard. It’s listed on the box. And it’s providing an interesting lesson in the difference between heroes and stars … Athletes were once role models. Now they’re shoe models.”
Cute, and glib. No, athletes were never role models, and they were never heroes. And any adult who pretends they are – or ever were — sounds like a fashion writer jumping on the latest headline.
Folks, isn’t it just time that everyone simply acknowledges that LeBron James is a shallow young man, no better or worse than any other professional athlete, living or dead. Perhaps a bit more spoiled, but essentially no different? And to hate him is to pay him entirely too much attention, just as it would be if you claimed to admire him because he won. And that’s it’s rather silly and hypocritical of all of us to scorn someone for wanting a championship ring so badly and then mocking him for failing to win it?
[Thanks to our sister paper, The Dallas Observer, for the video link.]