Don’t Hate The Player; Hate The Game

There has been an on-going discussion on why people hate Lebron James and it all comes down to envy. If you look at what he did – became a free agent, made a big deal out of it, went to Miami and had a party, lost in the finals (still successful), played a 2nd season and won another MVP, and now won the Finals MVP and the championship – you’ll see that he did exactly what he wanted to do, with who he wanted to, when he wanted to do it.  But you hate him? If you do, you are jealous. The guy is the best player in the league, hands down. Kobe used to be, but he is getting old and without a supporting cast he doesn’t look that good anymore and his stock is down.  An objective person would agree that Lebron is the best in the league. But, Lebron will never be the best ever for 2 reasons. 1) The game has changed. It used to be a big man’s game where the SG & Center would be the scorers and the rest would knock down shots to fill in the blanks. Now there are PG’s scoring 40+ points, in a loss, and the top 2 main scorers are a PG and SG with the Center picking up 8 offensive rebounds and scoring 15 points on 8-15 from the line. The game has also changed because it’s no longer about the “team”. Its about the “brand”. The singles. The stars. The Studs. So it’s not all for the “glory of the game” or “for the win”, it’s for the check – and not the paycheck from the NBA – the endorsements! That is what makes these players rich. Back in 96-98 Jordan was making $33M a year for playing and $47M in endorsements, and just back in 2010 he was still the highest paid person in the NBA, why? Endorsements. His team isn’t making anything, but he is through Hanes, Nike, Jordan, Gatorade, 2K Sports, and many more. That’s what it’s about now, but let me get to point #2 here. 2) Regardless of if he wins 6 championships, he will never been seen as the best there ever was due to the fact that people will think that he ‘cheated’ the system in a way. In the way the Oakland A’s did by putting together a team on statistics, or how the Yankees bought A. Roid, or how Boston traded for KG to round out the first “Big 3”. There will always be an asterisk next to Lebron’s name, and not for reasons like Clemens, and Bonds and McGuire, but for reasons that writers use to justify their hatred toward the best player in the league.
Now dissect what he did in more detail, as an objective person, and try to imagine yourself in his shoes. This will allow you to comprehend his actions and things he did wrong. He is quick to recognize these wrong-doings and has matured into what may be the best show that the NBA has ever put on, and that’s what it’s all about anyway.  LeBron was sick of Cleveland. They were garbage; even with him they knew they could never get to the very top (and stay there) without someone else, someone with a name, someone the defense had to actually guard instead of triple teaming James; he didn’t want to stay in Cleveland, who would? So his buddy Dwayne Wade proposed that he and Bosh come to Miami to play (just as if they were building a team to play in an AAU tourney back in High School), and he entertained that offer. His immature management team decided to blow this up and put on some show and they proposed this to the “brains” at ESPN and they loved it. So came “The Decision”. But don’t think Lebron didn’t regret this immediately after it was done and blown out of proportion. I firmly agree that he did not think it would be the sole reason he would be hated for the rest of his career by the envious mob that reads the headlines in newspapers located in a town with a competing NBA team, but it was the best thing to happen to him. That chip on his shoulder made him wiser, made him stronger and made him more eager to win. He was loved in Cleveland and now hated in Miami by everyone except the people in Miami – but that isn’t really all that different than when he played in Cleveland. Everyone hated to play him, and all the fans hated to watch him score 40+ on their team, but no one hated him with this passion that he created by an hour long ESPN special. This drove him to mature quicker than any player I have ever seen. He went from the kid that took off his jersey at the end of his career in Cleveland to the MVP that stood up in front of the entire world and told him what hurt him the most is that he was called “selfish”. Lebron proved to the world that he IS the best in the league. The guy had 2 triple doubles in the finals that only lasted 5 games; only 3 others have ever had multiple triple-doubles in a Finals and Magic was the only other one that did it in 5 games – in a loss to the Bulls in 91.
You can hate the guy for what he did, but you have to also love him for what he did. He took the team on his back this year and came through with one of the best overall playoff performances ever. He was called “selfish” but he is the only guy with a pass-first mentality to ever score like he does. Hate him because you are envious of what he wanted to do. He wanted to go to Miami and play ball with his buddies and win some championships. Do you hate Eli Manning? That guy refused to play for the team that drafted him, ended up winning 2 Championships for another team. And if you hate Manning you have to hate Kobe. Kobe won 3 championships with an organization that went to bat for him through all his off-the-court problems only to later demand a trade when he felt there wasn’t enough talent around him. And you don’t think that he had a say in who the Lakers picked up? Are you mad at Wade for constructing this team? It wasn’t Pat Riley or Eric Spoelstra.  The guys wanted to have fun and win, and everyone hates Lebron for the way he did it.
Lebron will wear that ring on his middle finger and he too will burn his old Cleveland jerseys. I’d send the ashes to Dan Gilbert in a letter reading, “This is what I owe Cleveland in return.” You hate because you’re envious. You hate because you couldn’t do what he did. You hate because he proved you and the rest of the country wrong. You hate because he’s the best. But most of all you hate because he did what he wanted and got what he wanted. That should be everyone’s goal. That IS everyone’s goal, but many are too scared to act on it, or make progress on it, or achieve it. Lebron wasn’t worried about being hated, he welcomed it and it matured him not just as a player, but as a person. It would mature you as well to be hated that much, but no one person can ever be hated as much as Lebron, so that leaves you with no reason why you shouldn’t do what you want to achieve the goals that you have. Lebron made himself a better person; now his actions can maybe make you a better person.