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News flash: LeBron James is undoubtedly the most vilified athlete on the face of the Earth. Alright, that isn’t exactly breaking news, but it still holds 100% true, regardless. And now that he and his Miami Heat are back in the NBA Finals for a second consecutive year, his army of haters will be in full force.
But what makes the NBA’s greatest player the most despicable sports superstar out there? Well, many people who loathe him in this manner will point at “The Decision” of Summer 2010 as the moment they decided to scrutinize essentially every single move that he makes.
To those fans, here’s the message: Re-evaluate it and realize that you need to let it go.
When James left the Cleveland Cavaliers and his home state of Ohio, he did it in what was perceived as such an egotistical and selfish fashion that it was simply unforgivable. He did not inform even a single soul within the Cavs organization of his final decision to leave and take his “talents to South Beach,” where he would form a super alliance with fellow All Stars Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh on the Miami Heat.
He did not owe the city of Cleveland and its fans that had suffered for so long before his arrival in 2003 anything more than the classy farewell they deserved. An hour-long special aired live on ESPN certainly didn’t qualify as classy to them or anyone else watching.
However, other than that, he didn’t owe them a new contract, a championship, or to finish what he started straight out of St. Vincent-St. Mary High School.
He gave them everything he had in those seven years and exercised his free agent right to pursue a new opportunity elsewhere. How is it any different from a person who isn’t an entertainer, who decides to leave the job they’ve worked for years for an even better one?
Don’t kid yourself, you know it isn’t. Plus, when regular people announce leaving their jobs that usually doesn’t bring in a boatload of money in donations to the the local Boys and Girls Clubs.
So if you think about that twice, declaring your intentions to start a new job in front of your entire family at Thanksgiving dinner might seem a little more self-centered than what James did.
Of course there are people out there who don’t really care about any of that stuff. Instead, there are those who will claim, ‘I hate him because he went and joined two other great players. One is also a top five superstar player in this league (Wade), and the other has been one of the more underrated All Stars pretty much his entire career. Jordan wouldn’t have done that.’
Alright, all of that is true. Jordan wouldn’t have left the Bulls to assemble some crazy squad alongside guys with the caliber of a Wade and Bosh. But that was then and this is now. If you live in the past and fail noticed that the league has been heading in this direction since the “Big Three” of Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett joined forces in 2007, you probably should pay a little more attention to players and teams other than your own and James.
James needed the help and the Cavs were incapable of surrounding him with enough of it because they play in Cleveland! The majority of people, especially young professional basketball players, don’t want to live in Cleveland during a long season! Jordan had Scottie Pippen, Steve Kerr and the rest of the crew to help him finish off the job; James just knew he had to make a drastic move in order to get his help, because Cleveland itself was repelling free agents like a great college in the middle of nowhere.
And for those who argue that he could’ve gone to a place like New York or New Jersey – where he could have been ‘the man’ and eventually gotten the aid he needed because that’s what Jordan would have done – you need to come to terms with the fact that there’s only one player remaining that still has that kind of old school mentality, and his name is Kobe Bryant.
Bryant’s admitted that he always wanted to be Jordan. That is why he has only one less ring than him. James just wants to be himself. That’s something that should be admired, not detested.
In the end, if this isn’t enough, the fact that it’s been two years should be. Unless you are that immature, you really don’t have an excuse to hold a grudge for this long.
LeBron James has moved on with his life, it would be best if the haters followed suit.
Image Courtesy of Keith Allison