Unlike the first five games of the NBA Finals, I watched Game 6. Not to watch the Heat lose, to watch LeBron handle the criticism. To listen to the announcers and the talking morons on ESPN and the various other experts talk about why LeBron lost.
I listened to the post game press conferences, mainly to hear what Wade and James had to say about losing to the Mavericks after premature celebrations in Game 2, making fun of Dirk Nowitzki before Game 5, stinking up the arena in Game 5, then watching another team celebrate a championship on their home court.
You had to figure someone would ask LeBron about the criticism. Someone would mention that he didn't seem to be himself. Someone would ask how he feels about all of the fans who booed him. He definitely didn't disappoint Skip Bayless.
"Absolutely not. Because at the end of the day, all the people that was 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. I'm going to continue to live the way I want to live and continue to do the things that I want to do with me and my family and be happy with that. They can get a few days or a few months or whatever the case may be on being happy about not only myself, but the Miami Heat not accomplishing their goal, but they have to get back to the real world at some point."
This was James's response to a question about the seeming joy the masses felt about LeBron and the Heat failing to win a title. To paraphrase, "I'm rich and those people are not and to add to it, they're mostly idiots as are you jack. Next question."
I am astounded at the audacity. Not from James; frankly I'd have gone Ryan Leaf on someone long before now.
No, I am astounded at the questioning LeBron James has to undergo on a daily basis. The experts who ask if he's tough enough, the members of the press who ask him if he regrets his decision, and the people who write "LeBron is a loser" articles in the newspapers (which has actually been going on since after Game 4).
As I watched that press conference I felt that James was being treated like he was facing a grand jury, not the press corps. The constant accusations that he quit and that he's not strong and that he's a loser.
It's the same people that call him "King" and crowned him a champion when he signed his extension in Cleveland four years ago and call him the best player in the NBA. Here's some news for you.
It's not LeBron's fault that he doesn't exceed your expectations!
Your expectations are why he can't win.
You turn him away from what he is naturally and make him become MJ. You compare him to a man he is nothing like, a man that some of you call the greatest, a man that had six NBA championships before LeBron was in high school.
You put him on the cover of Sports Illustrated and make him the King and expect him to be what you had in the 1990s. LeBron is not now, nor will he ever be Michael Jordan.
He's Oscar Robertson.
With his passing ability and his overwhelming size and speed he could easily average a triple double. He could easily lead the league in assists, but that would mean he has to take less shots and become a pass first point guard.
Of course he wouldn't just be a point guard, he'd be a 6'9" point guard that no one could stop from doing whatever he wanted.
He'd be Magic Johnson.
Sure that would be great for the Heat. No one could stop him if he truly played point guard from controlling the game on every possession, but that would end the MJ debate and then most writers would be out of a job, and ESPN would need a new King. This is because ESPN only really cares about the scorers.
Want proof? Four seasons ago Jason Kidd missed averaging a triple double for the entire season by 2.5 rebounds. It was the fourth time in his career he missed averaging a triple double by less than three rebounds. He has never been an MVP. He's never finished in the top five in MVP voting in fact.
Want more proof? Whenever you have the G.O.A.T. (Greatest of all Time) debate you generally debate between MJ and Wilt right? Occasionally others get thrown in there, but then it's Kareem or Russell. How often is it Magic Johnson or Oscar Robertson?
MJ never defeated a dynasty, he waited until it got old. Wilt never defeated a dynasty, he waited until someone else did, then beat them.
Magic won five titles and played in eight NBA Finals. He won a Finals MVP—as a center. When he retired he was the NBA's all-time leader in assists and steals. He holds almost every NBA Finals and playoff assist record.
Not the G.O.A.T. though.
ESPN, and by extension the fans, only pay attention to the great scorers. With Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh on the team, James could easily have led the league in assists if he played point guard, but he won't because it isn't flashy, it's just smart. So he must be a volume shooter and take shots away from others, and even then he can't win.
We live in an era where an NBA star pulled two guns on a teammate in the locker room. NBA stars are arrested for assault on their spouses, drug possession, fined for fighting and generally quit on their teams or force trades to the Knicks.
MJ, Dr. J, Larry Bird, Shawn Kemp and countless other players have affairs and produce children from those affairs that they don't care about. Even Wade just had a messy divorce.
Other than a poor decision to go on television and announce the team he intended to sign with, a decision he had every right to make because he was a FREE AGENT, LeBron has lived the right way. We've heard nothing of him getting arrested for whatever, or cheating on his wife.
Yet he is greeted with hostility by fans and faces scrutiny from the press while Arenas gets a pass and Carmelo can continue to be a bad teammate.
He loses when he tries to be what they made him, because he can't be what he should be.
Then they call him a loser because he isn't what they hyped him up to be.
But he isn't ever going to be MJ, he'll always be Oscar.