Hatred Aimed at LeBron James for Miami Heat Choice Wholly Misdirected

Brian MosgallerCorrespondent IJuly 10, 2010

MIAMI - JULY 09:  LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat is introduced during a welcome party at American Airlines Arena on July 9, 2010 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)
Marc Serota/Getty Images

I’m sorry; I must have missed something in this whole LeBron James situation.

Please correct me if I’m wrong, but this was the series of events, right?

First, LeBron James—the best overall talent in the game today—became a free agent as his current contract expired.

He then granted six teams the chance to present a sales pitch, listened to them, and began rationally weighing his options and wrestling with what was certainly a difficult decision.

Next, he scheduled a made-for-television announcement event—with proceeds going to an admirable cause—attracting 7.3 percent of all viewers (25 in Cleveland), the highest rated show broadcast that night.

Lastly, he made the choice to take his considerable talents to the wonderful climate of South Beach to give himself a better opportunity to win championships alongside two perennial All-Stars and good friends of his.

And because of all this, he is being crucified from coast to coast in a manner akin only to Tiger Woods.

But Tiger earned Americans’ ire for cheating on his wife (over and over and over) in surreptitious ways and lying about it.

All James did was exercise his fully-earned right as a free agent to sign where he wanted.

Yet he has somehow become the target of as much anger as AIG, and for what?

Now of course Cleveland fans were going to be hurt by this decision, and it could also have been expected that some of them with underdeveloped intellect would take to the streets to burn James' jersey like some sort of political statement.

“We’re so angry we’re going to light shit on fire!”

Seriously, though, is everyone else just jealous?

Moreover, northeast Ohioans seemed to rally behind the utterly absurd e-mail/rant issued by Cavaliers’ owner (and Michigan resident) Dan Gilbert, which was unquestionably highlighted by the philosophical gem: “Some people want to go to heaven but don’t want to die first”—whatever that was supposed to mean.

Unfortunately, those fans haven’t thought things through fully.

If anything, Gilbert should be the one those fans are blaming, for failing to surround LeBron with serious talent.

I’m sorry, but Mo Williams, an average shooting guard in a point guard’s body, a 65-year-old Shaquille O’Neal, and Antawn Jamison just don’t suffice.

In addition, Gilbert’s scathing and childish e-mail, along with the immature antics of Cleveland fans, have simply validated James’ decision to leave.

Others seem to be upset with James for not sticking it out with one team, and allege he is coming off as a mercenary by “taking the shortcut” of signing with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, a perception that will irreparably damage his legacy.

Let’s take these separately.

First, how many times have we heard the “At the end of the day this is a business” line uttered by professional athletes and executives?

The answer is too many, but it is nevertheless true.

LeBron owes the city of Cleveland nothing .

They were lucky enough to draft him and witness him blossom into the NBA’s biggest superstar.

However, it was LeBron’s responsibility to himself and his family to make a choice that made him happy.

If that was Miami, great for him.

Did you ever leave a job that had been good for you in order to put your career and family in a better position?

Even if you haven’t (although many likely have), it is at least an understandable life choice.

And just because other legendary players happened to play with one team doesn’t mean that is the required blueprint for James to follow.

Please recall that Jordan did not finish with the Bulls.

Shaq has now moved four times and counting.

But they have received nothing close to the vitriol James is currently enduring.

Accept it: Loyalty is a relic of a long gone era.

Now for the legacy thing.

One of the reasons it was easy for Larry Bird and Magic Johnson to remain with one franchise is because they were already sharing the court with multiple future Hall of Famers.

If LeBron was looking at Kevin McHale, Robert Parish, and Dennis Johnson on the Cleveland roster, this would be an entirely different situation.

Many also say that winning rings by contriving to play with Wade and Bosh will diminish those championships.

However, those people are wrong.

Rings are rings.

I read somewhere yesterday that the Yankees' titles in the late ‘90s were looked upon in a better light than their World Series victory a year ago.

Yeah, right.

Ask Alex Rodriguez or C.C. Sabathia if they care how the roster was assembled in order to win a title.

Even Jordan, the man so many work so hard to compare LBJ to (despite the fact that he is a completely different type of player), had Scottie Pippen and, for the second three, Dennis Rodman to run with.

So don’t give me that mercenary or cheapened title nonsense.

In fact, the only legitimate criticism in this entire state of affairs is “The Decision.”

But while LeBron’s one-hour salute to himself was undoubtedly ill-conceived, it at least did go toward a good end.

Sure, he should have broken the news to the city of Cleveland differently, but that is it.

You’re surprised a man of his level of greatness is egotistical?

Egotism is a prerequisite for that type of excellence and distinction.

Ultimately, LeBron is being vilified for taking a new job that betters his individual prospects.

Is this not America?

Like I said, I must have missed something along the way—can someone please let me know where the hatred is coming from?


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