“LeBron James: Professional Basketball Player” is a different person from “LeBron James: Human Being”, and the reason I hate the former isn’t for any of the reasons outlined by Monte Burke in Forbes this morning.
While I’m sure there are those who buy into Mr. Burke’s reasons, personally I think he missed the biggest one:
REASON 0: He doesn’t have an overpowering competitive drive.
In some manner this can seem tied into the Cleveland-defection, but it’s not at all about The Decision – it’s about breaking the unwritten rule of basketball that you don’t stack the teams.
That’s what chumps do, and nobody respects it.
Yesterday’s extreme dominance by him and Dwyane Wade was the perfect example – they beat the Pacers going 2-on-5. They’re that talented, dynamic, and dominant.
It’s just not cool, to be as baseline as possible.
While in some ways it’s exciting to see Wade and LeBron go off like that, it’s some of the ugliest basketball you’ll ever see, akin to watching a game of NBA Live before running plays was viable in the gameplay.
Give it to best player, go one-on-one, repeat. (Thanks to @MartinRickman for the video game analogy.)
It’s anti-basketball and in some ways hard to respect.
“Bully everyone with talent” was a neat gimmick in ’92 when the Dream Team did it, but became a bit unsportsmanlike when the rest of the world decided we were kinda being jerks about it in the version that followed.
I also realize that with only two players, the Heat are in some fashion an underdog now, but LeBron’s intent was still the same – stack talent and cruise to multiple titles.
Before I add some additional notes, I discussed this and more with Skip Bayless on ESPN First Take this morning.
1) Yes, I’m a Cleveland fan, and I have an added layer of hate for what he did to the Cavaliers and the fanbase. I started hating him while he was still on the Cavaliers though, so I’m not sure it’s relevant to this discussion.
2) I don’t understand why everyone gets on Cleveland fans for hating on LeBron. 15+ years after he was on the Red Sox and 5 years after he retired, Boston fans go rabid at the mention of Roger Clemens, and it’s somehow considered adorable. He didn’t even screw them over. He just got good again after he left.
3) Situations where other stars teamed up aren’t comparable. It’s different when it’s organic, and it’s also different when they’re past their prime and making a last go at it. (Houston with Barkley/Pippen, Boston’s recent big three.)
4) LeBron is judged on a different scale, because he has presented himself as – and is talented enough to be – a Greatest of all Time candidate.
5) I’m sure me and LeBron James: Human being would have a nice time watching Captain American and throwing popping corns into each other’s mouths.