Friday, June 22, 2012

Does This Change How You Feel About Lebron?

That is the question already being asked on sports talk radio, of course, after last night's win by Miami.  It is -- or at least it should be -- a really stupid question. 

Lebron James had been unquestionably popular until he made "The Decision," a bizarre, narcissistic television event that seemed almost calculated to maximize the pain felt by Cleveland fans.  No doubt they would have been hurt by his decision to leave no matter how it had been handled, but this seemed to give that special, extra twist to the dagger.  To many people, including those like me who are not especially fans of Cleveland or even the NBA, this seemed emblematic of so much that is wrong with professional sports today.  Lebron's popularity took a big hit; he was no longer the good guy of the NBA, he was the villain.

Two things need to be stated right away at this point. The first is that although he looked like a royal jerk in the way he treated his former hometown, he is by no means one of the worst guys in the NBA, let alone sports.  What he did was not a misdemeanor, let alone a felony; unlike the well-known actions of several other athletes, this wasn't a crime at all.  Nor was it cheating, like the use of performance-enhancing drugs (or for that matter, a pitcher putting pine tar on the baseball).  By these more serious standards, he's still one of the league's "good guys."

The other is that some people have been critical of his play, particularly late in playoff games.  On the other hand, he has been the league MVP 3 times.  He isn't "the next Michael Jordan," but then nobody is.  What he is is a future Hall of Famer, and everyone knows it.

With all that in mind, exactly how should the fact that he has won a championship change people's minds about him?  Are those who thought him a narcissistic jerk supposed to think the ring makes him a class act?


  1. Everything is sports is a " bizarre, narcissistic television event" but this is driven by the media not the players. Give Lebron his due - he helped his team win. In the end it really doesn't amount to much. In three years, unless the Miami Heat win nest year and the nest, few will remember who won this year. But you are right, Lebron will make it to the Hall of Fame before he retires.

  2. Well, there is narcissism among the media, too, but "The Decision" was about Lebron James, so it couldn't really be narcissistic unless it was essentially driven by him. Maybe this was an uncharacteristic choice for him, one that showed him at his worst, not the way he usually is, but it seriously affected his likeability. That's what my point was: sure, he's a great player, he'll have his wins and some championships, and he'll end up in the Hall of Fame (though I think he won't be eligible until *after* he retires), but that doesn't mean that I or anyone else will or should *want* him to win. Sure, he's super, but is he a superhero or a super-villain? That has to be answered on other grounds.