William K. Wolfrum's picture

    You Don't Deserve Lebron James

    Ok, I’ve had about enough of this. Let me be succinct in my opinion here: Lebron James is the best basketball player on the planet. His combination of size, strength, talent and basketball IQ are completely off the charts. He plays defense like his hair is on fire. It is literally a joy to watch him play the game of basketball.

    And you people just aren’t appreciating him at all. 

    For basketball fans, this postseason has been an embarrassment of riches. The Mavericks have become a brilliantly cohesive team around the great Dirk Nowitzki, and rolled to these NBA Finals after completely humiliating the defending champion Lakers. The Heat have had intense series against the likes of Boston and Chicago, and have emerged at the top of their game.

    Add to that the strong efforts by up-and-coming stars like Derrick Rose and Kevin Durant, and it has truly been an epic postseason.

    But for some basketball fans, this post-season has been about one thing and one thing only – waiting for Lebron James to fail. And throwing darts at him the whole way. Sportswriter Skip Bayless is dedicating his waning years to hating James. Heck, there’s even a blog called “I Hate Lebron James.”

    Now, I do understand why Cleveland fans would despise James. Without him, the Cavaliers will now go another few decades without being a factor. But I don’t think Art Modell received the same amount of hate for moving the Browns to Baltimore as James has gotten for leaving. And yes, the epic Heat rollout of James, Bosh and Wade was over-the-top and silly. And yes, James has at times shown arrogance, but in the sports world, that’s to be expected.

    Deal with it, people. Lebron James is a decent enough fellow. There are no skeletons in his closets. He tries to do and say the right things. If the biggest error of his career has been celebrating, so be it.

    As for “deferring” at the end of games? Well, can we have a little respect here for Dwayne Wade? The man may very well finish his career as one of the greatest performers ever in NBA Finals. That’s not deferment, that’s smart basketball.

    And as for the “He’s not as good as Michael Jordan” claims, well, that’s just a strawman. The only people comparing James to Jordan now are Lebron-haters.

    Personally, I have never seen as good a player as Jordan. He was magical (and arrogant). But check out his accomplishments at the same age as James. At 26, both had zero rings.

    But that’s going to change this year. Miami has just too much for the Mavericks to deal with, and James will get his first ring. The haters will still hate, but they are just denying themselves the joy of watching one of the great talents that has ever played in the NBA.

    Myself, I’ll be enjoying every minute. I feel like I deserve it.


    Crossposted at William K. Wolfrum Chronicles



    You do that "watching" thing, if that's what shakes your chimes.

    Me? Imma gunna HATE.

    Sorry, but if the various sports leagues are gonna pump up the volume about what these guys are doing off the court, and they're all gonna tell us, hourly, about their lives and purchases and opinions, then hey - I get to rate them on that too.

    See, it has to be a mix now. How they play as individuals... and as teammates. Where did they come from? i.e. Where and how did they grow up, and what have they overcome, and where have they played and how did they play - and then leave - there? How do they talk, and how do they live? It's no longer just the fact that they just play for the Boston Celtics or that they have amazing talent.

    Truth is, people have always watched and enjoyed "talent." But never have they rooted just for talent.  People often rooted for players or teams because of where they had come from originally, or their life story, or team loyalty, or some stylistic tic. I disliked Gretzky through about the last 15 seasons he played, both because I was tired of his team winning - but also because I despised his sugary-sweet corporate pablum messages. That's what comes when he, and the league, decided to push them in our faces as pitchmen, as well as players. But was he the greatest player ever? Yeah. 

    And LeBron has done this to himself. He's a man, not a child. It's not just "Cleveland." He's hated because in certain key ways we judge other people, he's not been "decent," he's shown himself to be an appalling man. Same as Kobe. Sadly - in my books - so too have large sections of the NBA, which seems more intent on turning itself into the world's largest suckfest, rather than on improving the game. And yes, global football is not far behind. (Yes, hockey has some as well. See: Sean Avery.)

    The world is full of guys who have talent. Some of them make it big. But on the rinks and diamonds and courts I knew, we were allowed to disdain the guys who whined, pouted, preened. The guys with pain thresholds around hangnails. The guys with the big egos. The guys with no courage. 

    Those things, character things, counted.

    We were allowed to do everything in our power to beat them, and when we did, that was one for us - the people who had more courage and determination and teamwork than did those individuals.

    So yeah, I'm happier rooting for a Steve Nash or a Kareem or a Tim Duncan than I am a Kobe or a LeBron. 

    And in fact, fuck LeBron. 

    Let's let him get smashed up a bit, hard-pressed, overwhelmed, and see how he does. It's the usual test we apply to humans.

    Because last I checked (and I have this noted down here somewhere), the great lesson of life is not, in fact, that pure talent is the most important thing.

    Great comment, Quinn. I just don't see where James is "appalling."

    Arrogance is a pretty heavy thing, from where I sit. I know, I know - different backgrounds, different times, and all that. But from where I'm from, that's.... THE worst thing. And sure, it can lead to all sorts of self-effacing bullshit, but LeBron? He's one of that group of people from whom it just seems to pour out, endlessly. From a "Chosen 1" tattoo to The Decision to the way he talks in every single interview, it just never ends. 

    Now, the only defense I can think of for the guy is that he actually may not be... very smart. At all. Not wanting to be mean, but sometimes he just sounds to me like he's following what he THINKS he should be doing and saying and sounding like. And again, a lot of pro athletes aren't that smart, but in his case, the best defense I can make for him is that he may not realize what an asshole he's acting like, and become. 

    Wiki's got on quote from an incident I remember - the "not shaking hands" thing a couple of years back. He says, "It's hard for me to congratulate somebody after you just lose to them, I'm a winner. It's not being a poor sport or anything like that. If somebody beats you up, you're not going to congratulate them. ... I'm a competitor. That's what I do. It doesn't make sense for me to go over and shake somebody's hand."

    I mean, maybe the guy genuinely thinks there's only the one criteria to greatness, and that's being #1, and that means... winning. Literally, I'm not sure if he gets that sportsmanship has any place or role at all. If he DOES get it, then he's just an asshole, full stop. Hockey, you shake hands, every damn series or game. Bleeding, toothless, busted - doesn't matter. Suck it up.

    Here's another incident form Wiki which I might use to offer up the "not smart, just following what appeared to be the thing to do" defense. "Wizards guard DeShawn Stevenson said James was "overrated," prompting James to say that he would not return the insult, as that would be "almost like Jay-Z [responding to a negative comment] made by Soulja Boy."

    Anyway, I try not to follow the day-to-day antics and commentary in and around LeBron. But as is, arrogance is pretty much the standard emission of this guy. Nor am I in any way convinced he's shown any great grit or courage, or that he understands what it takes to be a team-player, or even a good and fair competitor.

    Though I'm always happy to keep someone on the "To Be Determined" books. I LOVE it when somebody goes from egotistical prick, and the penny drops, and they go on to show more courage than you'd ever have imagined. For instance, if you don't know the Mario Lemieux story, check him out. Widely regarded as a LeBron type - and the most talented player since Orr - he was selfish, slack, uncaring. Then... he faced real hardship, and came out a different man. (Actually, Mario is much more the equivalent of Michael Jordan in style and such, not Gretzky.) He fought through cancer. Back surgeries. A bad heart. He helped save and rebuild that entire team in Pittsburgh. He's an inspiration to younger players today, boarding them at his family's house - like Sydney Crosby.

    I'd love it if LeBron could become that sort of story. 

    spot on. 

    Why does Tom Brady engender so much hate?  What evil thing did he ever do but be pretty and marry a model.

    I hated, no, loathed the pigeon-toed John Elway for most of his career as he avoided a sack threw some amazing strike down field over and over.  But in the end I was rooting for him to win that first Super Bowl when he did, and I was cheering and ooooing like everyone else when he went all helicopter blades into the end zone. 

    Haters are gonna hate, as they say.  It's part of the game.  And the hate that King James has generated is a thing of beauty.  So sit back and enjoy it because who knows someday everybody will be rooting for him to finally win that first ring.

    Go Dirk!

    Tom Brady engenders so much hate because he  won a couple championships where a significant part of his training involved watching secretly recorded videos of his opponent's practice sessions. And he totally got away with it.

    He, as much as Belichick, embodies in sports the entitlement of the rich and powerful to do whatever they want, achieve great personal benefit from breaking the rules and never pay the same price as everyone else when caught.

    People hated pretty boy Brady (and grouchy Belichick) long before the revelation came out about the video taping sessions.  Spygate just reinforced and intensified the hatred. 

    I didn't like him because I am a Cowboy fan first and an NFC fan second and so almost never root for an AFC team. That is unless they are playing against the Redskins or the Giants or the Eagles. I didn't really dislike him intensely until he sucked up to Bush.

    "But in the end I was rooting for him to win that first Super Bowl when he did, and I was cheering and ooooing like everyone else when he went all helicopter blades into the end zone."

    Stick the "everyone else" up yours, trope.  In case you don't remember, Elway won his first ring over the finest professional sports organization in American history, the Green Bay Packers.  And Mr. Ed had nothing to do with that win - it was all the Denver O-line and Terrell Davis:

    "Although Elway completed only 12 of 22 passing attempts, throwing one interception and no touchdowns (he did, however, have a rushing touchdown), Davis rushed for 157 yards and a Super Bowl–record three touchdowns..."

    Sally Jenkins is saying lay off LeBron--he's being unselfish--in this column, the main point of which I partly agree with:


    What merits some criticism of his play is not that he didn't shoot more.  He made a lot of outstanding passes.  The problem was his passivity in too predictably and too often clearly not looking for a shot.  He did look disengaged as a potential scorer.  I think it's a positive thing for Miami that he doesn't seem to feel the need to take over games from a scoring standpoint late, but can he do that while also playing in a more aggressive way to keep defenses more honest?  It seems strange to say that about James but Stevenson all but said after game 3 that guarding James was too easy late because he wasn't looking for his shot, *only* to pass in the fourth.  That's what I thought he meant when he said LeBron "checked out" offensively.

    I still think that, more than a huge upset, it would be a minor miracle if the Mavs can somehow win this series.  Fortunately they don't seem to be paying attention to the analysts, virtually all of whom seem to have written them off after the first couple of games (among other doubters: I thought Miami would win in 5, if not 4.).  And they are even with Barea being unable to finish despite getting to the basket regularly, despite Terry not really having gotten going, despite Haywood being out. 

    Carlisle is doing an exceptional job, I think--he is imaginative, calm, and quick to make adjustments when things aren't working.  His body language and demeanor convey grit, tenacity, and steadfastness and resourcefulness under pressure and his team is playing that way.   

    As were the Bulls this season overall, so, too, are the Mavs a little engine that is.  Did anyone, anyone at all, pick the Mavs to win it all before the season started?  Before the season I was just as dismissive of them as a serious playoff threat as the CW reflected: they weren't tough enough, strong enough defensively, poised enough under pressure.

    These are the best NBA playoffs I can recall in over 40 years now of watching the NBA--the most competitive, the most interesting, the most unpredictable.  It's been wide open who was going to play for the crown right from the start.  Should be a hell of a game tonight.

    Just about everything I know about Miami, with the exception of the names and reputation of two of their players, I learned beginning with the playoffs . I have watched the Mavericks some over the course of Nowitzkie's career. Take my game analysis straight to the bank or your local bookie, whichever is closest. Miami is touted as having an outstanding defense and Dallas has its first defense in quite a few years, maybe forever. Dallas has been very cold shooting since the LA series. Despite the great defense they have been getting a lot of good shots. They are shooting below their average and averages go towards the middle. In spite of their poor shooting they are tied 2-2. If they have a hot shooting night, or maybe even a fairly good one, and Barea can make the occasional layup, they should win tonight. If Dallas wins tonight they will be at least a slight favorite to win it all. I would make them a pretty strong favorite. If Miami wins they will be an overwhelming favorite to finish up at home. The stars of all the different teams have had their games and their psyches analyzed more than Anthony Weiner has. It seems to be affecting LBJ. He seems to be trying to come off good in the next days sports page, based on the previous day's sports page, which will rate his strategy and character and team play and willingness to share the limelight and the ball and anything else that can fill the column. Every one of those subjective evaluations will tilt 180 degrees one way or the other, not depending so much on his performance but on whether Miami wins. If he scores sixty points and misses a shot late and they lose a close game, he will be labeled a loser. Go Mavericks!!!

    Did I say, "Take my game analysis straight to the bank or your local bookie, whichever is closest"? Yeah, that's what I thought I said. But I'm staying humble, I won't say I told you so. [again] All I will say is, PAY UP Suckas!!

    LeBron just looked... bewildered. Hell, the whole team did.

    But with him, there's some combination of the "take charge/leader" and "strategic sense" skills that he just seems to lack. He tries one thing for a while, then another, but none look convincing. Compared to a Gretzky or an MJ, Sydney Crosby or even Kobe - those guys give you a sense that they're always pressing and probing they always have a few moves and have saved a few openings for special occasions, they know the clock and they know their teammates. LeBron gave off little or none of that sense tonight.  

    Hell, even with Dallas' old guys tongues hanging out and Miami leading - they STILL came back. These guys - Dirk, Marion, Terry and Kidd - all 33-38 years old. What the hell is that, Miami not burning them down? 


    It is time to get your bets down. Las Vegas has Miami as a 4 1/2 point favorite and the over and under line at 187. Friday they had  the points at 5 1/2. Lots of money must have been going down on Dallas plus the points to force the bookies to change the spread a full point and give those that bet on Dallas at +5.5 to now take Miami at -4.5 and have a chance to win both sides if Miami were to win by 5.
     I'll take Dallas plus the points and also the over 187.


    I didn't break a sweat and I didn't miss a shot.

    The Heat wish they could say the same, I'm sure.  Especially free throws.

    I pick the Miami Heat to win the NBA Championship in 2012.  They have their work cut out for them in the off-season, which I imagine will be a long one.  L. James, in particular, has a lot of work to doto master his craft.  I imagine Spoelstra, if he doesn't already, will begin to feel a bit of job insecurity soon.  It's a tough biz.  But Pat Riley is nobody's fool.  He'll get it all sorted by this time next year.

    The Miami Heat couldn't beat Anthony Weiner in a game of pocket pool. 

    Two words - pa thetic.

    And you cannot even get three words right. Pa the tic.

    Go Canucks!

    Go Bruins!

    Go Mariners!

    Who is LeBron James? Does he play guitar left- or right-handed?

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