One never gives much thought to hating someone in the public eye.
You don't necessarily have to have a reason. Most times, actually, there isn't a personal reason. It's a bandwagon thing, and hating LeBron James and the Miami Heat is no exception.
To be fair, I was on that hating LeBron bandwagon for the past year. And it wasn't because I didn't want to see him succeed at Miami.
I had, and have, nothing against the Miami Heat organization. Personally, I think Pat Riley and the Heat administration knew exactly what they were doing in signing the "Big Three." They had the funds, they had the opportunity and they took advantage.
It was a brilliant strategy that set the tone for this past NBA season, and that almost paid off for them.
I never felt that LeBron did me some personal injustice by "taking his talents to south beach." I was on the hater bandwagon because I felt his ego was getting too big. The media had blown him up so much that he felt entitled to that press conference; entitled to an NBA championship.
Honestly, I saw it coming. Can you tell me you didn't? The kid got "Chosen-1" tattooed across his back while he was still in high school—a reference to the Sports Illustrated cover he made before he was even drafted.
That cover was the catalyst to a rapid ascent to basketball royalty, followed by an equally rapid descent to the depths of villain-hood.
For seven years, we worshipped LeBron James; the collective public heralded the young Cavs star as the best player in the game. And he was.
Watching his fall from grace these past few months hasn't been surprising—just kind of sad. If we're being completely serious, I didn't care until game five of the NBA finals.
Prior to that, he seemed to feed on public scrutiny—he looked like he enjoyed the boos at every arena the Heat dominated—but it's completely ridiculous to think that the pressure and the hating wouldn't get to him eventually.
Unfortunately for LeBron, eventually came at exactly the wrong moment.
Watching a man crumble on an international stage is surprisingly painful.
LeBron James wasn't the only player to lose it for the Heat, but he was definitely the one who lost it the worst and the one to receive the most attention for it. The problem, for LeBron, is that he lives on attention; the proof is in every shot he makes. There is always a celebration.
LeBron's gloating is especially noticeable when it isn't there.
To put it simply, he cracked. The pressure, the criticism and the finals got to him. His post-game press conference after the Mavs' Game 6 title clincher demonstrated that even more.
When asked about his critics, James put up a wall. Instead of admitting his mistakes in the series or allowing a little room for criticism that may have been due him, he responded by saying that his critics at home will "wake up tomorrow and still have the same life that they had before they woke up today...they have to get back to the real world at some point."
That, to me, doesn't sound like acceptance of his role as a villain. That sounds like a "screw you, I'm still a multi-millionaire superstar" to me.
It's really too bad, because LeBron James is, in fact, one of the best players the game has ever seen.
If there's anything LeBron and the Heat should take away from this year, it's that nothing comes easy. Sure, the Miami Heat peaked at the right point of the season, but complacency is the danger that threatens every peak.
I wouldn't be surprised if LeBron and the "Big Three" laid low for a while and came back next season with less talk and more work.
They'll get their title eventually—no amount of hating, booing or criticizing will be able to prevent that—but they, like the Mavs and so many teams before them, will have to work for it.
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