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Why Lebron Will Never Please You

The question of who is the greatest basketball player of all time is not historically settled, by the very nature of History – people are always making it and adapting from and surpassing the past.  It is of little debate that at the present moment, by almost any standard one can apply that Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all time.  He has the stats, championships, individual and team accolades and perhaps most importantly, a series indelible marks left upon the imaginations of millions of Americans.  Jerry West may be the logo of the NBA, but Michael Jordan is its most shining symbol of glory.  Others who have tried to lay claim to the throne have fallen short, most notably Kobe Bryant, the closest approximation to Jordan in style (if not in success) to the point that if Kobe could have killed Jordan on a boat, assumed his identity (along with press conference cadence, fadeaway jumper and gum chewing) and called himself The Talented Mr. Jordan, he might have.  But the danger in replicating a great is that no matter how great you are, unless you surpass the original in every way you can never be considered greater.  And this goes beyond stats and number of titles, but also the spirit of the legend.  Which is why I have found Lebron James so damn intriguing.

Lebron James, I have always said, is the only modern player with a chance to surpass Jordan (read the words haters – a chance – not a declared certainty or a present-day fact) because he is a different model.  Kobe challenged Jordan on Jordan’s turf. Lebron’s eventual legacy will challenge Jordan from a new template – a point guard mind- power forward body phenom.  He will never score as much as Kobe or MJ, but he impacts the game in a way I have never seen.  He is a defensive force and only Scottie Pippen has been as versatile a defender in my life.  What other player in NBA history goes chest-to-chest with Tim Duncan and rejects his post shot and then resumes guarding Tony Parker out on the perimeter?  Defensive player of the year Marc “Hodor” Gasol?

To watch the San Antonio defense you would think no one on the court exists except Lebron  They guard him with multiple players, a layered scheme and are only willing to concede the worst shot statistically in basketball – the 17-19 foot range jumper.  He is a gifted passer, a savant of the game and a physical freak, but he has only shown glimpses of an assassin’s mentality on the court and because Jordan set the framework and Kobe followed it, the fact that Lebron does not adhere to that model means in the hater/hoops-simpletons’ minds that he can never be as good or better than those who operate with that mindset.

And yet, Lebron is one game from winning his 2nd NBA title a year before Michael Jordan won his 2nd NBA title.  He has collected 3 triple doubles in his last 7 NBA Finals games.  He has thrived offensively in a league that, although not as physically dirty than the one Jordan played in and that Kobe began in, is much more sophisticated defensively and the statistics bear that out.  Better athletes, more zone defense and more complex stats and schemes make scoring a bigger chore in today’s NBA (not necessarily individually, but the game is a lot slower than in the 80s).  Am I in any way suggesting the MJ would not thrive in today’s NBA?  Of course not.  I think he would excel.  But this is more to defend Lebron.

Lebron is playing under a microscope that no other NBA player has ever played under.  Jordan felt the glare, but that was the glare of an adoring spotlight for most of  his career.  He was a Madison Avenue darling very early on and became the toast of the league for the second decade of his career.  Once MJ broke through, he was never questioned again, at least not pejoratively.  This has not been the case since Lebron won.  Lebron has had the spotlight, but much of it has come from the ever present 24 hour news cycle and the 200 foot troll of a magnifying glass known as social media.  Every game Lebron plays is not specific enough evidence of greatness or failure – he has every play dissected.  After willing the Heat back from the brink of destruction all 4th quarter in Game 6 last night, the instant reaction from haters was that Ray Allen had “bailed Lebron out” with his incredible three pointer.  What is Lebron Moses?  He gets to lead his team to the Promised Land, but not get to experience any of it?

The problem for Lebron is not that he is not talented or clutch or great.  He is all of those things.  The real problem for Lebron is that he is the greatest athletic specimen we have on the planet, other than perhaps Usain Bolt, and that shames a lot of the public.  See, we live in a society now where everyone’s opinions, thoughts, pictures and mundane activities are on display making us all feel like important celebrities in our individual, mundane circles.  Mediocrity has never been more famous and self-important and Lebron has been reminding us for the last three years that he is better than us. 

We were OK when he was a nice kid from Ohio, toiling away, earnestly failing to achieve his profession’s highest goals.  But then he made THE DECISION.  I did not like it, but I got over it, mainly because I enjoy watching him play so much.  But what Lebron said is “watch me America – I am important and you will watch me.” And we did watch and then we hated him for showing us how much we cared and how shallow we all felt (THE DECISION was a huge ratings success).  We became champions of Cleveland’s dignity, even though many people watching were just hoping their team would be the one to break Cleveland’s heart (Hello Knicks and Bulls fans). Rather than apologize for our own hypocrisy we turned Lebron into a massive villain. 

But don’t forget he was arrogant at a free pep rally fgor Heat fans!

And then he lost in the Finals to Dallas and it proved that he was being punished for his hubris and we could all feel good.  It was a text book case of schadenfreude.  We determined he deserved a comeuppance,  he got it and we delighted! Good riddance King James! Except rather than fade away into the Tracy McGrady and Vince Carter wing just outside of the NBA Hall of Fame for underachieving athletic freaks he bounced back and destroyed his rivals en route to his title in 2012.  Yes he played with Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade, but only a truly delusional hatred could ignore that Lebron was the Sun that the other Heat players revolved around.  And he never had that iconic moment in the NBA Finals last year because he destroyed the OKC Thunder so thoroughly.  So other than Boston Game 6 (and Indiana Game 3 if you paid attention), his 2012 playoffs did not give us Jordan over Ehlo or Jordan (shoving) shooting over Russel.  Another strike against Lebron!

So we arrived at 2013. The Heat win 66 games, 27 in a row and Lebron puts together the most or oneof the most efficient seasons in NBA History.  And then the playoffs happen and it appears that by the Pacers’ series Lebron is no longer part of a big three.  He is the Big One and is alternating between dragging his teammates and creating for them.  He single handedly vanquished a very tough and balanced Pacers team that specifically were strong where the Heat were weak.

And now the Finals.  Standing in Lebron’s way are a 4 time champion player and coach, a team with size and a team with a devastatingly good point guard – all weak spots for the Heat. And with some help, finally, Lebron is one game away from defeating the team that swept him when, like a Mozart of basketball, he took a terrible Cavs team to the Finals in 2007 with only his individual natural brilliance.  But now Lebron has mastered basketball.  Does that mean he is perfect? No.  Did Jordan shoot below 33% in the final game of the 1996 Finals?  Did Kobe go 6-24 in Game 7 of the 2010 Finals?  Yes and yes.  Does that diminish their legacies? No.  Yet Lebron for that he has accomplished before the age of 30 and the brilliance with which he plays is still having every dribble examined with heightened scrutiny.  So if he were to score 40 and go 15-15 from the field on Thursday, but Tony Parker hits a buzzer beater to win Game 7, this will somehow render Lebron’s admission to the upper elite of the sport null and void.  He cannot please these people because they want him to fail.  They need him to fail.

Lebron James has shown us that he is great. Greater at what he does than we will ever be at what we do.  He has also shown us that he knows he is great and better than us.  Not in a brash Terrell Owens sort of way where it feels cartoonish. Rather, Lebron was blessed by God, fate or nature with incredible potential for greatness.  He was not born Peter Parker or even Bruce Wayne – he was BORN as Spider Man and Batman. And what is worse is that he is fullfilling that great potential and enjoying it in beautiful Miami.  Lebron is better than us, knows it, but what really stings is that we could never be him.  No matter how hard we work and dedicate ourselves he was always going to be better. Kobe and MJ gritted their teeth, yelled at and in MJ’s case, punched, teammates – they had the gifts, but they also exhibited the grit that made us feel better about them being better.  Lebron is just enjoying a game he has mastered and fullfilling his promise, but with something closer to a child’s enjoyment than a mob boss’ ruthlessness.  And in an age where we all think we are so important and special he has shown us that we are not.  But that he is.

Good luck in Game 7 Lebron.  And get ready to hear “but MJ and Kobe threepeated” or “now Tracy mcGrady has as many titles as you” right after.   And then have a hearty laugh.

For more opinions, comedy and bridge burning check out the Righteous Prick Podcast on Podomatic or iTunes. New Every Tuesday!

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Lebron, Roy and Tony: American Rorschach Test

The NBA Season is winding down, which is terrifying me.  To demonstrate how far apart baseball and I have grown over the years I now call the months between the end of NBA Season and the beginning of the NFL “tennis season.” #TeamNadal.  Even though my Utah Jazz did not even make the playoffs this NBA playoffs promised ample opportunities to be right and enjoy myself.  Here are the 4 main predictions/thoughts I had before the playoffs:

1) Lebron James is the best basketball player in the world and well on his way to GOAT status.

2) Why Can’t The Spurs Win The West – they keep winning 60 games and seem ageless?

3) The Knicks Cannot Win with Melo.  He is a second tier star that Knick fans think is a first tier star.

4) The Pacers are going to beat the Knicks in 6. They do not have the established “star” yet of Melo’s hype, but they are much better than the Knicks.

Well, not to start calling myself the Righteous Sports Guy, but four for four.  The Spurs are now in the Finals.  Sure Russell Westbrook’s injury helped, but the Spurs completely dismantled the Grizzlies, which I don’t think many people could have predicted (even me).  This makes me happy only because it has the potential to move Tim Duncan (2 regular season MVPs and 3 time Finals MVP) ahead of Kobe on the best player/best leader all time list (as much for Kobe as it is for Kobe fans who I do battle with).  The Knicks lost exactly how I believed they would, while Knick fans continue to say that “Melo needs more help” instead of saying “the Knicks need to build around a star who plays a complete game and makes teammates better.”  Good luck Knicks with the 6 seed and a first round exit in 2013-14.  Lebron is proving to be the most electrifying man in sports entertainment (sorry The Rock).  Lebron’s court intelligence, dominance of every aspect of the game, and freakish athleticism (only Lebron could make last night’s block of George Hill appear to be predictable and routine) have made Lebron my favorite thing to watch in sports that is not a Usain Bolt sprint.  I root for him because I want to keep watching him play basketball (and based on last night’s illegal screen foul call, I believe David Stern also wants to watch him play more) and because I like seeing his irrational haters more angry.

But before a Spurs-Heat Finals is official, the deep, disciplined and admirable Indiana Pacers remain in the way.  The Pacers appear to have the kind of team I wish the Jazz had.  They have a near-superstar Paul George (before the playoffs I said Paul George for Melo straight up would be a huge win for the Knicks, even just for this year and was called crazy), several very good players and most importantly, Roy Hibbert.  When Hibbert entered the NBA I was not a fan.  First off he went to Georgetown, a sworn enemy of mine ever since law school.  Second, his body and game resembled an evolutionary predecessor to NBA bust Hasheem Thabeet.  But then Hibbert did something.  He worked his ass off.  He is now arguably the second best center in the NBA behind a healthy Dwight Howard (but no one likes that guy anyway).  And he co-starred on a couple of episodes of Parks and Recreation.  How can you not like Roy Hibbert?

So now America is presented with three possible choices/leaders in the NBA Finals:  Lebron James, Roy Hibbert and Tony Parker.  Now I am squarely in James’ camp for reasons listed above.  However, Hibbert is a respectable and admirable choice.  But unless you are from San Antonio or Paris I cannot respect a choice of Tony Parker.

If you root for Lebron James you honor America’s tradition of greatness and exceptionalism (and ignore today’s current narcissism and jealousy of those clearly better than you)

If you root for Roy Hibbert you honor America’s tradition of hard work leading to success and defying expectations (though admittedly the expectations of a 7’2″ black man succeeding in the NBA are slightly higher than normal).

However if you root for Tony Parker (especially as some sad bitter struggle against Lebron) then you are supporting a man who fu*ked a teammate’s wife, cheated on his Hollywood actress wife and is based in a foreign country.  In other words, Tony Parker may be the best embodiment of America today!

So enjoy these last 6-10 NBA games of the season before tennis gets into full… swing!

For more opinions, comedy and bridge burning check out the Righteous Prick Podcast on Podomatic or iTunes. New Every Tuesday!

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Why I Am Rooting for Lebron James

There are many reasons to root for Lebron James and several reasons to root against him.  Ont he plus side he is the most physically impressive basketball player since Wilt Chamberlain. With all due respect to Michael Jordan, Karl Malone and Vince Carter, no athlete since Wilt Chamberlain has combine evolutionary-step-forward athleticism with size that seems impossible to support that athleticism.  Statistically he has put together seasons that are only rivaled by Michael Jordan for completeness (30 points per game, 7+ rebound, 7+ assists per game, with a first team all defense selection).  He is a gifted passer, a generous teammate (at least on the court) and one of the most impressive athletes on the planet.  For my money, the only athlete I would want to see perform in person more than Lebron James is Usain Bolt (though I have already seen Lebron play in Cleveland and Miami as a member of the Cavs).

The reasons to hate Lebron – The Decision and the fact that at age 28 he has not won a championship (to say nothing of the fact that there are dozens of great players who never won or at least did not win in their first 9 years – just ask Hakeem Olajuwon, Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Kidd, Steve Nash, Karl Malone, John Stockton, Charles Barkley, etc.).

I hated The Decision. I hate the pomp of it and I hate the fact that he left Cleveland.  I perform a lot in Cleveland and that city was in love with their (relatively) home grown superstar.  They felt disrespected and betrayed and in an era where hometown sports heroes are a rarer breed it stung extra hard.  But one group of people, more than any other forced me back into being a Lebron fan (beyond the obvious reason of wanting to watch him play):

New York Knick fans.

There can be no doubt that the New York Knicks are now professional sports most overrated franchise.  They have not won a title in 39 years, they won a playoff game this year for the first time in eleven years, after setting a record for consecutive playoff losses.  But two years ago, all of Knick land was buzzing with the hope that Lebron James would leave Cleveland to bring greatness (back?) to the Knicks.  Photoshopping was out of control with Lebron in Knicks #23 jerseys, every Knick fan from the ardent supporter to the legion of wall street johnny-come-latelys-after-doing-coke-and-escorts.  No one in the NY fan base or the NY media was saying, “Hey, what about Cleveland? Shouldn’t a homegrown superstar stay with their team?”  Instead they were ready an willing to gut an entire franchise because, despite 37 years of championshipless basketball at the point, the Knicks were entitled to Lebron and it was inevitable.

Lebron broke Cleveland's heart, but Knick fans' unjustified sense of entitlement was the real victim.

And then Lebron picked Miami for less money to play with his friends.  Cleveland, justifiably exploded.  The burning of jerseys was a tad much, but their anger was justified.  But you know who the second angriest city in America was?  New York.  And that has not abated.  Never has a group of fans maintained a sense of self-righteousness about NOT being able to be the scumbag that gutted Cleveland.  Let me get this straight Knick fans – Miami and Lebron are scumbags because they did not let YOU destroy the Cleveland Cavaliers?  New York is no longer the Mecca of hoops, but it is the Mecca of hoops hypocrisy.

The hatred of Lebron has also reached a faith based level.  Anyone watching basketball right now with an objective eye cannot doubt that he is right now, the most talented player in the game.  Admittedly he has exhibited less than stellar play at the very end of games, but he has still hit big late shots THIS postseason.  He still can guard anyone on the other team from point guard to center, and has done so as recently as the Celtics series (no one seems to ever mention how good he is on defense when they critique his game).  He has great clutch playoff moments in his career – look at his one man battle against the 2008 championship Celtics or his epic one man take down of the 2007 Detroit Pistons.  He may have changed some of his mentality and that will effect his placement among the all time greats, but the evidence is in – Lebron James is great.  Dan Marino was great and never won a title.  Ken Griffey Jr. was great and never won a title. Only in basketball and especially in Lebron’s case is greatness so obvious to the eye, but denied by haters based solely on the lack of a championship ring.

But fans who need a WWE style villain love attacking Lebron – that has become the sport itself (to say nothing of the fact that Dwyane Wade flops more, bitches more, plays worse, argues with his coach, was an unfaithful husband and won a championship on the strength of great play AND an unprecedented number of free throw attempts, more than a handful of which were on dubious calls). But Lebron abandoned Cleveland and went to Miami and announced it on television (a program that millions watched) so he now deserves a visit from Seal Team 6.

As I watched Game 5 of the Celtics-Heat series on Tuesday I felt bad for Lebron.  I know, I know he is a millionaire and there is a book about him called The Whore of Akron, but I watch him because he is a great basketball player and seems to conduct himself in a good manner on the court and in a non-criminal fashion off of the court.  What more, as a fan of the sport, do I need to appreciate a great player and athlete?  As I sat alone in a bar watching the final quarter of Game 5 in midtown Manhattan (now a hotbed of financial industry employees, despite Occupy “Wall Street”) and it was great to see a bunch of rich men working in finance, an industry with about as much good will as 5,000,000 Decision announcements, booing Lebron James, calling him a scumbag and cheering for the Boston Celtics.

I manipulate laws and the tax code, play with your money consequence free and occasionally do coke and high end escorts, but I think we can all agree that Lebron is a real scumbag!

Now the Celtics are an actual longtime franchise rival of the Knicks, but Lebron was worth supporting the Green and White.  It was a great symbol of what New York and New York Knick basketball fans really are: hypocrites with no sense of history – they actually have always had the impatience and petulance of the Twitter generation, which the rest of American culture is just adopting now (of course I know plenty of quality Knick fans, but the die hard fans with knowledge and perspective rarely, if ever, drive the story with the Knicks). I would rather appreciate what Lebron is doing, rather than make him more of a villain so I can feel good about myself.  And hopefully Lebron gets a title or two as a stamp of his greatness at some point, because Knick fans have already gotten what they deserve: Carmelo Anthony.

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From Celebration to Hi-Tech Lynching: The Reverse Sports Comedy…

Most sports comedies start with some sort of historical context, either real of fictional, dealing with some sort of tragedy or woe that has befallen a team or city.  Then the team gets together and commits a series of blunders and near successes.  Then after some magical moment, of either forced racial harmony or the emergence of a collective enemy to rally against, the team begins to play well.  In a series of montages, with some humor, the team begins to play great with each member showcasing the specific talent that they had shown potential for all along.  By the conclusion of the movie there is some obstacle that the team must overcome and thanks to some clutch performance the team achieves their goal and has a big celebration.  Major League is the best example of this, both because it follows the formula perfectly and for extra irony, took place in Cleveland, the city Lebron James left.

Watch Major League in reverse and you might see the season Lebron James had this year.

With the conclusion of the NBA Finals last night it became clear to me that the Miami Heat’s season was literally the reversal of a sports comedy.  And LeBron James was the star.

Before examining the most fascinating story line in the NBA since Magic Johnson announced that he had HIV, some credit needs to be given to the Dallas Mavericks.  And me.  I had had a big debate with Knick fan friends about the future of the NBA.  They all panicked with the advent of the Big 3 in Miami and declared that the NBA was now exlusively a superstar arms race.  Ignoring teams like the 2003 Spurs and the 2004 Detroit Pistons, my friends assured me that the Knicks, built around Amar’e Stoudemire with a slew of potential super role players could not compete in the NBA and that the acquisition of Carmelo Anthony for half of their roster was necessary.  What followed was the disappearance of Amar’e Stoudemire and an early exit for the NY Knicks.  If one team has the two best individual players (Wade and Lebron) in the game it makes no sense to try to out-star power them.  The Mavericks have proven that the Hakeem Olajuwon/early Tim Duncan model can work.  Get a dominant superstar and build super role players around him.  This is a great tribute to Dirk Nowitzki’s will and talent and a relief to NBA fans who were afraid that the league would automatically become 6 super teams and a bunch of teams wasting their time.  But back to the anti-sports comedy.

A well earned title.

The Beginning Is The End

So after The Decision, which apparently now outranks OJ murdering his ex wife and a waiter as the worst crime ever committed by an athlete if one reads the Twitter feeds of most basketball fans, the Heat had a celebration in front of their fans in Miami.  This was obviously premature being that it was the first, rather than the last, thing they did as a group (the Big 3 at least).  By the way, if you Google “The Decision,” the first result is Lebron James’ announcement.  The second is “the decision to drop the atomic bomb.”  This could not more perfectly illustrate America’s misplaced priorities and anger towards Lebron.

If he was accused of rape or murder he would have had more public support.

Tough Finish Is Tough Start Instead

The Heat went 9-8 in their first 17 games, much to the glee of most NBA fans.  In the proper order of a sports comedy this would be the tense finish, barely eeking out a victory in the end.  Instead they struggled to open the season and despair seemed to be reigning in Miami.  Dwayne Wade was injured (sports comedies often have a late injury that forces everyone else to step up their game, so naturally the reverse has an early injury), which also led to their early struggles.

The Success Montage

This part of the film would basically last from late December to the beginning of June.  It would show the Heat rolling, there might be some comedy clips of Joel Anthony hitting free throws, as the audience laughs and says, “Hahahaha – even THAT guy is doing work!”  LeBron and Wade would provide oohhh and ahhhhh moments for the audience.  The only difference is that in the sports film the montage would start with a big win against Dallas and then end with a thrashing of the champion Lakers, leading to the tense, final third of the movie.  Instead, this montage began with a Christmas win against the Lakers and finished with a solid win against the Mavericks in Game 3 of the NBA Finals.

The Rick Vaughn In Reverse Moment

In the aforementioned Major League, a major turning point for the Indians is when their talented, but erratic pitcher, Rick Vaughn, finally learns that he needs glasses.  From that moment on, he meets his potential and dominates.  But before that moment he is a bumbling idiot and it is not clear why.  That was LeBron James in the last three games of the playoffs.  It was an inexplicable display on par with Vaughn, who could throw 100mph, but was nowhere near the plate.  Whether you hate him or love him, the fact is Lebron had delivered tremendous performances both consistent and clutch for the first three rounds of the playoffs.  He even played well in the first three games of the NBA Finals.  And then, in this reverse sports comedy, he lost his metaphorical glasses.  It did not look like someone quitting consciously.  It looked more inexplicable.  Like someone stole his soul.   Meanwhile the last three games became worse and worse displays by the Heat that would have been comedic if they weren’t so sad.  Too many passes, too much Mario Chalmers, too much celebrating by Deshawn Stevenson (in a sports comedy a doofus like Stevenson would open the movie talking garbage and then get served late in the movie or at least during the heroic montage part), Dwyane Wade dribbling off his foot, Chris Bosh crying (hey at least he cares), etc.

The Historical Tragedy Is Epilogue, Not Prologue

I have maintained throughout this whole Heat spectacle, but I wanted Lebron to stay in Cleveland.  Everyone likes the hometown hero story.  And Cleveland has had it tough with their sports teams.  And the city felt betrayed.  I famously wrote (famous meaning to the 13 people who read the post) that I would root for Kobe this year, which was up until The Decision was unimaginable to me.  But then three things happened.  One, I watched Kobe again and realized he’s Diet Jordan and it is impossible for me to be a fan of a cover band with a rape allegation.  Two, NY Knick fans, who surround me, were the most awful people in the Lebron fiasco.  They were ready to suck Cleveland’s soul as long as Lebron came to NYC.  But when he opted for South Beach, Knick fans became the most self-righteous bunch of fans in America.  Hypocrisy reigned supreme in NYC.  Much like the steroid scandal in baseball, America, led by the NY fan base, had turned into a bunch of people who could not wait to trash someone else.  America is a bunch of cheats, whether it is on your spouse, your taxes or your math test, but show us some people living a life we are jealous of and we will annihilate them once they don’t live up to standards we don’t hold ourselves to.

America cannot control this strong buck the way they used to, but they can teach him his place in other ways.

As a friend mentioned to me yesterday, how many people have left Cleveland for better cities or better job opportunities that were born there?  I know comedians from Cleveland.  Could you not make it on to Letterman while living in Cleveland?  Why not?  There are clubs and open mics in Cleveland.  Maybe you should have just worked harder.  An interesting point in the very least.  But Lebron got to go to South Beach with his buddies and live a dream life.  So we went overboard.  And that is the third thing that cemented me rooting for Lebron again.  The hi-tech lynching that occurred.

Clarence Thomas made the term "hi tech lynching" famous. Lebron experienced it.

Yes, I know I am using the term made infamous by Clarence Thomas in his 1991 confirmation hearings, but in this case it is actually true.  Lebron did one thing that annoyed people – he had a television special to announce that he was going to Miami.  He did not murder anyone.  He did not rape anyone.  He did not take drugs.  He made one decision and handled it in a less than gracious manner.  What he incurred (speaking to everyone not in or from Cleveland), however, was on par with the Tea Party’s response to President Obama.  Following on Facebook and Twitter, people who I never knew even knew what basketball was or had ever made a comment about sports, let alone basketball, were all too ready to bash LeBron James and wish ill will upon him.  It felt like a cyber posse that became a cyber lynch mob – people just seemed to know that they were supposed to hate Lebron.  And about 1% of the comments I read were from people in Cleveland.

And this is not just how some people hate on brash wide receivers in football for being cocky (and backlash). This was deeper and angrier.  Something about LeBron has made Americans angrier than they should be.  Is it the fact that he has been blessed with gifts that we will never have and he doesn’t use them to their full capacity?  That is what bothers me or at least perplexes me.  I feel like watching Lebron is like watching a superhero who sometimes randomly decides that he doesn’t want to be a superhero.  Is it the fact that a young, rich black man held the NBA hostage with a televised special, foolishly wielding his power without realizing the backlash that would ensue?  Will there be the same hatred and bile for the whole league and the vast majority of white owners when they manifest a lockout next season?  Or is that fair business?  And to be fair the hatred is not just from white people, the same way black cops can mistreat black suspects.  But it is unlike anything a white athlete has ever faced. 

Even today, his post-game press conference remarks are being twisted and turned into some sort of “I’m rich and you’re poor” sour grapes speech, which seems to be a stretch to say the least.  But maybe this is just part of the American pop culture playbook.  We built up a high school athlete because he had incredible talent.  Then we begin tearing him down as an arrogant Frankenstein that if true, means we bear significant responsibility in creating his image.  Now all that is left is the redemption story.  But judging from past examples, only history will view him more favorably. 

That is, unless he shows that has learned his “proper place,” but after seeing this season in action and the vitriol spewed last night against him, hopefully he never learns it.