Over the course of history, we’ve witnessed many celebs have downfalls to the pits of earth. Professional sports, or entertainment, have witnessed many rapid falls from grace.
OJ Simpson went from beloved ex-football player and movie actor, to the most hated person on the planet due to his alleged actions in killing his wife and her associate.
Rapper Ja Rule's career came and went ultimately because of his choice of pop-driven music, which differed from his earlier hardcore style. The move alienated his fans and ultimately led to his demise as a rap star around 2003 or so.
But never have we’ve seen the fall of any athlete—not Tiger Woods, or Brett Favre, in terms of popularity—in the way we have seen it with LeBron James.
I firmly in my heart believe that May 13th, 2010 in Boston changed the course of not only how the NBA operates with lining up talent, but on how the public began to perceive LeBron James in such a negative light.
It’s not a hidden secret how much people wanted LeBron and the Miami Heat to lose and fail in the NBA Finals this past year.
When that did indeed happen—in an unforgettable fashion—it’d be fair to argue that the loss was better than witnessing the 2005 USC Trojans or '07 New England lose their title games.
Since “The Decision,” LeBron's name has received nearly every slight to his name and title possible: LeFraud, LeShames, King with No Ring, etc.
Should the hatred towards LeBron rightfully end?
With the loss in the finals, the teasing of LeBron didn’t end with the use of sly jokes on his fourth quarter disappearing act. He became the most targeted, ridiculed person on the planet besides the rapper Drake.
For many, his loss was a moral victory to everyone who believes in not taking the easy road in life, and going through the trials and tribulations to achieve their personal goals.
Sure “The Decision” was an ill-advised move, but I guarantee a bulk of basketball fans would not only consider the move to Miami, but also take it.
But still, since the loss, it seems that everybody got what they wanted: a loss by LeBron in which he failed the miserable way. But now that it’s over, do we still need to hate him?
It’s true, we got what we had been wishing for, and he choked when it mattered most, but I believe that the anti-LeBron movement must come to a close.
LeBron showed us this past June that he isn’t Michael Jordan or Magic Johnson; and he’s not going to go to war for you like Larry Bird did. He’s LeBron James, and that won’t change.
LeBron also showed us that just because you are on a super team, that doesn’t necessarily mean it will generate championships. Therefore, hard work must be put in.
So, for the LeBron James checklist that we’ve seems to keep tabs on: no drive to win? Check. Arrogant? Check. Reprising the role as the frozen one? Check.
Now that it’s all said and done, we can really move on from the bashing. I remember watching the press conference LeBron made his infamous comments looking down on the common folk, and could tell the pressure and hatred really took a toll.
LeBron does make a lot of choices that normally bring down his case for fans' compassion, but he’s human, like us, and we’ve got to remember that.
Recently, he conducted a Rachel Nichols interview in which he reiterated that he wished he could have handled the situation during the 2010 summer a lot better. That if the shoe were on the other foot, and his favorite player left the way he did, he too would be upset.
He noted that after the finals it was "one of the hardest times of my life” and he sat in his room for two weeks in solitude.
He also noted that he took on the villain role because of the treatment and criticism he was enduring on a night-in night-out basis, and that it resulted in a change in his play—an angrier style.
I agree that a different LeBron formed over last season. He was very well used to being well-liked and everyone adoring him.
But I don’t agree that he didn’t know that this level of hatred was going to overpass him last season. With a player of his talent, star power and magnitude, the outcry of his TV special was an event waiting to happen.
As I’ve said before, however,what’s done is done. LeBron reimbursed all of his anti-LeBron folks and doubters back the best way by not only losing, but failing when it counted most.
With that said, we can also dismiss the claims of LeBron James being better than Magic Johnson, or better yet, his idol Michael Jordan.
LeBron James is not Michael, and in fact, he never will be. LeBron James has come to terms with that and we as basketball fans should too.
I read Jay-Z’s Decoded book once and I recall a particular section in which Jay-Z describes meeting Michael Jordan and having a no holds barred Q&A with him.
Jordan said the player that guarded him toughest was Joe Dumars, he almost went to the Knicks until Jerry Krause matched their offer, and that one of his favorite players during his era was Hakeem Olajuwon.
But Jay-Z pointed out precisely what was different between Michael Jordan and everyone else. It wasn’t just his obvious talent—it was his overbearing commitment to excellence and nothing else.
Not to say that LeBron doesn’t put in hard work in the offseason, I believe he does, but it’s now proven that he isn’t yet to the level Jordan was in terms of efficiency, production and desire when it counts most.
Because we know all of that, we should leave LeBron James alone and let him carry about the life he once led before summer 2010.
It appears that this past summer he mostly stayed out of the limelight while he recouped from his finals disaster and (presumably) trained hard for the upcoming season.
He seemed to enjoy himself and the extended time off this past offseason and competed in numerous basketball games with other NBA stars.
Did he shoot thousands of jumpers in the offseason like Jordan, Magic and Bird? Probably did, probably didn’t, but he isn’t them; again, he’s LeBron James.
We have no idea the type of agony that we may have caused towards LeBron, his family, and the Heat organization, so with all respect due, it’s time to let this man live.