It’s amazing how dramatically things can change in the span of less than a year. Prior to his heavily publicized departure from the Cleveland Cavaliers, LeBron James was one of the most beloved players in the NBA. Now, he’s surpassed even the likes of Ron Artest as the league’s top villain.
But is all the LeBron hatred really warranted? If you ask us, we say it’s not. Here are five reasons why it’s okay to like LeBron James.
“The Decision” Was a No-Win Situation
A lot of the LeBron bashing started with his handling of “The Decision.” That decision being what team he would sign with as a free agent in 2010. Seriously, a one hour television special on ESPN? Was that necessary?
Well, if it wasn’t, the media sure didn’t give anyone that impression in the days leading up to the debacle. For days on end, there was literally nothing else the sports media could talk about. Every rumor, innuendo and clue as to where he might be headed was covered in a manner that made LeBron possibly leaving Cleveland seem like the second coming of 9/11. People were practically begging for the announcement to be a huge event.
What that meant was that no matter how LeBron chose to announce his departure from Cleveland, he would’ve gotten hell for it. What did you want him to do? Post his decision on Twitter? Sure, and then let the deluge of “how callous of him to handle such a huge decision in such a casual manner” comments begin. Not talk to the media? We all know how the media reacts to that, and it’s not pretty. A standard press conference? Great, and then every television network in the land cuts from their regularly scheduled programming and LeBron is a dick for hogging the media’s attention.
In the end, he opted for an exclusive interview on a sports network, only after they agreed to donate a huge sum of cash to charity in return. People who wanted hear what he had to say knew where to tune in. People who didn’t could just keep on watching whatever they wanted. And an undoubtedly thankful charity got a nice influx of cash. Please forgive us if we fail to find the harm in that.
Really, the only solution that would have made anyone happy was if he did nothing at all and just quietly re-signed with Cleveland. But the fact that he didn’t still isn’t a good reason to hate the guy, because…
Professional Basketball is Big Business
But, but, but…LeBron stabbed Cleveland in the back! Where’s the loyalty??!?!
Where’s the loyalty? That’s probably a question hundreds of professional athletes who were unceremoniously let go by the teams they stuck with for years on end would like to ask also. We’ve already covered what happened to Brett Favre after his final (but not really final by his choosing) season in Green Bay. Where is all the San Diego Chargers hatred after Ladainian Tomlinson got his walking papers after one less-productive-than-normal season? Was anyone outraged when the Pittsburgh Steelers cut Joey Porter?
Yeah, but that’s the NFL, right? Talk to Chauncey Billups about NBA loyalty. He got shipped to Denver for goddamn Allen Iverson. In terms of player quality, that’s kind of like your girlfriend breaking up with you to date a homeless person.
Oh, but in MY day players stuck with their teams! Yes, grandpa, they did. Because free agency wasn’t around until 1978 in the NBA. Rest assured, if LeBron stuck with Cleveland and then somehow strung together a couple of sub-par seasons, all of those scorned fans (and that whining bitch of an owner) would have happily sent LeBron packing. The organization isn’t held to any sort of loyalty standards, for them, these are just business decisions. But when the ridiculously large basketball shoe is on the other foot, somehow it’s an atrocity? That’s absurd and hypocritical thinking.
LeBron James didn’t owe the Cavaliers shit. Nobody was wronged here. He signed a contract, fulfilled that contract and took an organization that was previously a laughing stock to the brink of an NBA championship. And speaking of that…
Sometimes You Have to Take Matters Into Your Own Hands
One of the saddest aspects of the LeBron hate-fest had to be all the former NBA stars who came out of the woodwork to claim they never would have turned their back on their team like that. Right on, Michael Jordan, easy to say when the Bulls went out of their way to build a winning team around you.
That was a favorite argument among uninformed “fans” who joined in the chorus of insults. “Jordan and Magic and Bird didn’t need to run off to another team to win a championship!” Absolutely true, because their teams made sure they went out and got the necessary puzzle pieces in place for those players to win at the highest level. Cleveland, on the other hand, did not. If you think they did, look no further than what that team is like now without LeBron James. Atrocious is probably the best word to describe them.
LeBron James single-handedly carried that team to the success they enjoyed while he was there. But it takes more than one player to win a championship. Unlike the Lakers, Celtics, Pistons and, now, the Miami Heat, the Cleveland Cavaliers never seemed to understand that. Scoring titles and MVP trophies (which seem even more deserved after seeing how the team performed after he left) are great, but LeBron wants to win a championship. Cleveland just never did what they needed to in order to help make it happen, so he had to make the necessary move on his own.
Any great player should absolutely have an NBA championship firmly set as his number one goal. LeBron James does. That’s why…
Signing With Miami Was the Opposite of Selfish
Of all the derogatory comments thrown LeBron’s way, people calling his jump to Miami a selfish move has to be the most ridiculous. By signing with the Heat, he sacrificed a bigger paycheck and sole control of the spotlight to join a team that already had a solid leader and superstar in place. That’s pretty much the exact opposite of selfish. Selfish would be lessening your chances of winning an NBA championship just so you can be THE STAR on your team and pocket a few more millions. If you think what he did was selfish, you don’t even know what the word means.
About that Infamous Tweet
And finally, let’s talk about this now infamous Tweet. LeBron is getting all sorts of hell for it, so much so that he’s started to backtrack from it and claim it wasn’t intended for his former team. We all know that’s not true and, honestly, we wish he would just stand by it. If you’re unfamiliar with the story behind it, he posted that Twitter update after his former team suffered a 50+ point loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. It was pretty obvious that his words were intended for his former team. A team whose owner wrote this after LeBron decided to leave Cleveland.
Kind of makes that Tweet about karma seem pretty mild in comparison, doesn’t it? Dan Gilbert reacted to LeBron’s departure as if he owned the guy. How many of you reading this wouldn’t be tempted to take a shot at the guy who wrote an open letter to the entire world accusing you of “cowardly betrayal?”
Are we disappointed that LeBron chose to lash out against Gilbert on Twitter? Absolutely, but only because he didn’t use any profanity. Fuck Dan Gilbert and every asshole boss like him. His team’s shitty performance is the least his sad display of bitterness deserves.