We Are All Witnesses To LeBron James' Selfishness, But Will It Pay Off for Him?

Max Goodwin@maxgoodwContributor IIIJuly 11, 2010

CLEVELAND - JULY 8:  A parking attendant stands near a larger than life photograph of LeBron James July 8, 2010 in Cleveland, Ohio. The two-time Most Valuable Player has the choice of remaining with the Cleveland Cavaliers or signing with a new team. (Photo by J.D. Pooley/Getty Images)
J.D. Pooley/Getty Images

There is no question that the Miami Heat is a favorite to win the NBA championship.

There is no question that they will possess one of the most talented trios ever to be assembled in a starting five.

There is also no question that most of the nation views LeBron James as a coward. The real question is whether winning will change this perception.

LeBron James has shown the ability to surpass the highest of expectations in his career. The early expectations of greatness that seemed impossible to live up to looked modest following his rookie season in Cleveland.

His free agency period has been anticipated for years, but nobody anticipated this happening. Nobody anticipated the assembly of an all-star team in Miami. Now everyone has their own expectations on the Heat. How will LeBron meet them?

He has fallen from the height of arguably the most popular athlete in the world to the villain of the NBA. And there is nobody to blame but himself. LeBron must remember that he asked for this. He asked to be the bad guy, and he must embrace the role.

"The King" abandoned the city that loved him. The huge banner that draped a downtown Cleveland building has been removed. The jerseys that Clevelanders wore with pride have been burned in the streets.

He claims he gave these fans everything, but left without giving them a championship, the one thing that matters in sports.

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LeBron has done a lot of talking since "The Decision" but he has also learned that actions speak louder than words. He says that nothing means more to him than family, one day after leaving his family for South Beach.

He says the experience has humbled him, after creating one of the most outrageous, over-the-top events in sports history.

He says the Heat will win "not one, not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, not seven..." championships, when he does not currently know what it takes to win a single championship.

Even former NBA stars have stated their beliefs that the decision was one of a coward.

Jordan did not leave the Bulls, Bird did not leave the Celtics, Magic never left the Lakers; they built these teams into champions.

LeBron went the route of joining other great players in order to win a championship. Where is the pride in that?

Winning is all that matters to LeBron. He does not see the bigger picture of what winning implies.

The pride and courage that comes along with winning is what really matters. It is persevering through adversity to achieve an accomplishment that matters.

If LeBron had won a championship in Cleveland, it would have provided one of the all-time great stories of an individual player in sports history.

In a city that has been denied a championship for so long, a hero who grew up right there in their own backyard of Akron became a basketball legend.

Cleveland will always be LeBron's kingdom. It was amazing that the most hyped player to ever enter the NBA was drafted by his hometown team. A franchise that needed a miracle to be revitalized.

He gave them seven years of greatness. There is no doubt that he was the most dominant player in the league during that period.

All that was left to give this city was a championship. Seriously, take a moment to imagine the story that could have been if "The King" had surprised us all and announced he was returning to Cleveland, and followed up with a championship season.

That could have been a story to remember.

But the insecurities and fear that he could not live up to such a story drove him away. Now, his talents have been brought to South Beach, where seven championships will not mean nearly as much as a single one would have in the very city he grew up in.

One day Mr. James will understand that the word sacrifice is not an economic term. But he is already assured that day will be too late.