I know what you're thinking, "Who is feeling sorry for LeBron?" I'm actually asking myself the same question.
However, although I am against the LeBron James movement, for lack of a better word, even I found myself feeling the slightest bit of sympathy for the guy after last night's Game 6 loss.
After all of the drama, hate and questionable performances (these refer specifically to the playoffs, and more specifically to the finals) that LBJ has endured in the past season, the ever evasive ring he's been longing for and subsequently created the "Two Headed Monster" for (sorry Chris Bosh, but you're a third wheel, not a third head, and crying on your knees won't get you any sympathy from me) was pulled away from his grasp like a dollar bill attached to a string.
Don't get me wrong, I was on the Mavs bandwagon the entire time and was overjoyed by their first championship, especially because it prevented LeBron from getting his first. I simply propose that many of the King's haters, whether they wanted to or not, may have felt some remorse for the poor guy after watching the old guys put on their t-shirts and hats after their 10-point win last night.
That being said, I am here to write about why you should not and cannot feel this remorse and you must replay The Decision until you can get the hate pumping through your veins once again.
LeBron James may have received some justified sympathy from the masses of people who wanted any basketball team on the planet to win a championship over his if he had displayed any level of hunger, or drive, or need to win the championship throughout the last six games, most specifically last night.
However, I did not see any of these things from him, and I am inclined to say that I didn't even see LeBron James playing the basketball that we know LeBron James to play on the court last night. What I did see, and what I have seen for most of the season and playoffs, was a sense of entitlement that will continue to keep a ring off of his finger until he can grow up and realize that this is a professional basketball league.
Let me elaborate. When I say sense of entitlement (I know you all know what it means, but I want to express the context that I wish for you to see it in), I refer to several aspects of James' game.
The first of which being his attitude towards the championship itself. Beginning from what I'm not sure what to call but I'll label it as the "Two Headed Monster + Chris Bosh make fools of themselves in front of a large crowd show."
Remember when they promised not five...not six...not seven...not eight championships? Well, I didn't deny for a moment that they could potentially fulfill this promise. What really rubbed me the wrong way about this was not their unprofessional WWE-like presentation, but their lack of respect for the most prestigious accomplishment a basketball player could ever achieve.
The NBA Playoffs and Finals are a different level of competition than the regular season. The Heat and LeBron James didn't seem to understand this. It's almost as though after dismantling the 76ers">Philadelphia 76ers in the first round as the top seed, they figured that each following series would play out in the same way.
This is the lack of respect I am talking about. Not only did he disrespect the value of an NBA championship, but the talent of the teams he would play against in the second round, the conference finals and the finals (he also openly disrespected the eventual NBA Finals MVP in Dirk Nowitzki with a classless imitation of Dirk's 102 degree fever, with which he played through Game 4 and won the game in the fourth quarter for the Mavs).
This is why he was so unprepared against the Mavericks defence and why he posted eight points in Game 4 and averaged 15.3 PPG (10 PPG less than his regular season average) in the last three games, and likely the most important games of the season.
This leads me to my next point, which is LeBron's superstar mentality. What do I mean by this? Well, to reference the neverending debate (which we can hopefully end now) between James and Jordan; In the first game in Cleveland this season, LeBron decided against going out on the court for the pregame introductions, for any reason from fear to...well fear.
Bleacher Report writer Moke Hamilton said it best: "Can you imagine Jordan shrinking from a venomous crowd like that?". In all reality, Michael Jordan would take a crowd that wanted his head on a stick and silence them not only with his performance, but with his class and respect for the game on and off the court, end of discussion.
Coupled with this point is LeBron's relationship with the media. As one of the best players in the game today, and an endorser of several athletic and non athletic products, LeBron makes himself more open to any type of criticism from the media than other, less marketable players. Many star athletes do this, and it does great things for the successes of the companies they promote.
Will Miami Win a Championship Next Year?
This being said, if you are going to put yourself in the public eye with these promotions, you have to be able to accept media criticisms, and cannot let it affect your game, and more importantly the job you are expected to do on the playing surface.
LeBron James clearly takes what the media says about him to heart, which is a main reason why while being under the most critical scrutiny of his career in the past season, he posted the worst PPG average since his rookie season (I realize that playing with Wade and Bosh has potential to lower his PPG, but the three of them together also has equal potential to increase the overall team PPG as well, so I am considering it all relative.)
He also equalled his career high in turnovers per game with 3.5, with another one of the best players in the league today to pass the ball to. This could potentially be because of his fear to play below the fans' expectations, and equal fear of having his feelings hurt by the media.
What does this mean? As you all are likely aware from this year's Finals, where LeBron James didn't show his usual relentless need to score by driving to the rim and maximizing his point production, James cannot perform under pressure in any capacity on a consistent basis.
The only players who can say they deserve a championship are those who can be relied on in every quarter of the basketball game, and James is not one of these players.
Many of you reading this will have disagreements with my reasoning behind this argument. I am open to criticism, and would love to hear what you have to say. This is simply what I believe to be the current state of the legacy of LeBron James and why nobody should feel sorry for yet another failed attempt at a championship.
Maybe he'll prove me wrong next year, but the time to get not five...not six...not seven...not eight championships is running low.