"All the people that were rooting on me to fail, at the end of the day they have to wake up tomorrow and have the same life that they had before they woke up today. They have the same personal problems they had today."
Those were LeBron James' comments after his Miami Heat lost the NBA Finals last year to the Dallas Mavericks. While those comments were immature, they hit on a basic truth. Things don't change overnight.
Why, then, would they change if LeBron James wins his first NBA championship against the Oklahoma City Thunder?
The series is far from over. All three games have been close and either team could be up 3-0 if a few plays had gone the other way. But LeBron's Heat have control of the series and are closer than ever to that elusive first championship.
But even if LeBron wins that championship, he's still going to wake up with the same problems he has today.
The world isn't going to suddenly forgive him for his antics. Nobody is going to regale their grandchildren with tales of Miami's obnoxious "Yes We Did!" welcome party.
Fans won't forget about him quitting in 2010 against the Boston Celtics. Or his disappearing act against the Mavs last year in the finals.
LeBron James cast himself as a villain the moment he turned his decision into "The Decision." The world doesn't hate him because he hasn't won a championship; that's just fuel for the fire.
Fans dislike LeBron the man, not LeBron the player. A ring doesn't undo the damage he's already done.
He strung along the only team he'd ever known for weeks when it was a foregone conclusion that he was picking Miami.
He insulted players past and present when he guaranteed multiple championships before winning his first.
He humiliated his hometown by going on national television and doing everything short of announcing it wasn't good enough for him. He didn't even give them the courtesy of a phone call before he did it.
His classless actions aren't going to be forgotten overnight. The court of public opinion has made its judgement: he is a villain.
How will a ring change that? Will a ring for him give Cleveland the one he promised? Will it give the Cavs their wasted 2010 offseason back? Will it assuage our disappointment in him for admitting that he couldn't win on his own, and then prancing around a stage with his buddies as if he already had?
No. It won't.
LeBron might win his first championship soon. He might win several more in the years to come. If everything breaks perfectly, he might just end up as the greatest basketball player of all time.
But he will remain basketball's greatest villain. He secured that title for the rest of his career on July 8th, 2010. No amount of championships can tear that black hat off of his head.
All of the people rooting for him to fail are still going to root for him to fail. Haters are still going to hate. Ring or no ring, LeBron James is going to wake up in two weeks with the same life he has today. Whether he likes it or not, he brought it on himself.