Where Did Our Principles Go?: Why LeBron Should Be Praised

bryan richardsonContributor 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

For anyone that has ever played sports, we know that a good foundation is where it all starts. Whether you played T-ball, Pop Warner, or PAL, you know that the basic elements that are taught before winning and losing are teamwork and unselfishness.

We have all heard the saying "there's no I in team", and no matter how great one player may be, no one can win without help. The best players can elevate themselves and their team, but no one has or ever will be a champion by themselves in a team-orientated sport.

Since 2001, LeBron James' junior season at St. Vincent-St. Mary's, we have all heard about his game, and more importantly, how mature he has been for someone his age.

LeBron has had a few run-ins, whether it be a traffic ticket here or some discounted jerseys there to the birthday present Hummer, but for the most part he has been a great ambassador for the NBA.

LeBron was drafted by his hometown Cavaliers in 2003, and for seven great seasons, he gave them the best show in town. He won NBA Rookie of the Year, two MVP awards, six All-Star appearances, and most importantly led the Cavaliers to their first ever NBA Finals with arguably the worst supporting cast ever to play in an NBA Finals.

Despite the Cavaliers being a laughingstock of a franchise before his arrival, he instantly energized that fan base and made "The Q" the place be 41 plus times a year. Cleveland was finally being looked at in a positive light, and he was giving the fans who have no other viable contending pro franchises something to feel good about.

Ultimately though, James never fulfilled the ultimate prophecy of Cavalier fans, which was to bring a championship to a city that hadn't celebrated a professional title since 1964. He was looked at as a failure for bolting town and seemingly leaving Cavalier fans betrayed by one of their own.

That is where the problem lies for me. Instead of celebrating the greatest player in franchise history and appreciating him putting them on the map, they have called him a "Benedict Arnold" and burned his jersey. They have removed the billboards with his likeness that over the past decade have become as much a part of Cleveland as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Instead of blaming James for not alleviating the demons from past Cleveland sports failures, how about blaming the people responsible like the Browns defense for not stopping Elway from driving 98 yards at home for the game tying touchdown or Earnest Byner for not fumbling the ball or the Cavaliers for not allowing anyone but Michael Jordan to catch the ball on "The Shot."

James is doing something that NBA players are accused of never doing, and that's putting winning above all else. People will say that he will never be in the class of the Michael Jordans or Magic Johnsons because he joined another star, but I say that's fine. He will be considered the first LeBron James, and coaches of youth sports all around should be proud that after all these years, someone finally got the message.

James' legacy will ultimately be defined by titles, as everyone else's is. If the Heat win three titles in four years, then no one is complaining anymore about the decision. People say that at the end of the day the competitive fire alone should have been enough to keep James from joining the so-called superteam, but to those people I pose this question.

Is this Heat team better than any of Magic's Lakers' or Bird's Celtics or Michael's Bulls? Didn't think so. Charles Barkley said that he wouldn't have made this decision, because he would have wanted to try and prove he was the man at LeBron's age. How many titles does Barkley have again? KG said he wished he would have left Minnesota earlier, and then maybe he would have as many titles as Duncan or Shaquille.

Until they start putting asterisks on titles for playing with great players, LeBron made the best decision for him and also to help achieve his ultimate goal of winning a title. I'm just glad to bear witness to the King's decision.