Monday, June 13, 2011

The King Without a Crown

I have been a fan of the NBA my entire life. I grew up watching players like Magic, Michael, and Larry. They were my heroes. I would watch them play and then go outside and pretend I was them. Emulating their moves over and over. Counting down the shot clock. Even if I missed I somehow got fouled. But the thing about those guys was they made those shots. Sure they missed some. They had off nights. But we always expected that ball to go in. Today Kobe, and now Dirk, are the same way. They turn it on when the pressure turns up. When our teams play against them we are afraid when they touch the ball because we know how absolutely unstoppable they really are. Superficially we don't like them. We hate them beating us over and over. But deep down we respect them. We respect their heart. We respect their fortitude. How when everything is on the line they step up when many others would wilt.

Well LeBron you just aren't in that class. You wilt. Consistently. I am not too sure why, but over and over again you do. I am honestly more sad than anything. You have been blessed with more physical gifts than any player we have seen, possibly in any sport. You have the ability to absolutely take over. To dominate. But when it really matters you cower. When you played for Cleveland you were my favorite player. I loved how you put your home city on your back. How you took a rag-tag bunch of nobodies and dominated your competition. I loved how eventually you would have brought Cleveland the title they deserved so much. But then that series with the Celtics happened. You quit. To this day we still have no idea why, but you gave up. Not only on the game, but on your teammates and on your city. I will tell you one thing Jordan never, ever gave up. Ever. You would have to kill that man to get him to quit. He refused to be beaten, but even more than that he just had the heart of a champion. Knock him down over and over again, and he will get back up and come at you twice as hard. He wanted and smelled blood. He was a cold blooded assassin. A killer. Everyone around him was better not just because of how good he was, but because they were afraid not to be. That moment I knew. You would never be the greatest. The talent was there, but the heart just wasn't.

Then came "The Decision." The prolonged period when you held your team and your city hostage. Right after you had given up on them in the playoffs. You let management fire the general manager, the head coach, and start to trade away players in an attempt to get you to stay. Not saying a word to anyone. Meanwhile, another superstar, Kevin Durant, quietly signed an extension deciding he would keep his talents where they were. That he would fight for a city that took him in as their own. Then came your "decision." To say it was a joke would be putting it lightly. It was a circus, and the man we had all admired so much was the clown. You are taking your talents to South Beach? Really? In that moment you decided you would rather take the easy way out. You would rather be a side kick than a leader. You once again gave up on your team and your city. We were disgusted. It was so immature. So ignorant. Then your celebration once you got down there? Are you kidding me? Who the hell is advising you? Your 6 year old cousin? It was at that point we really started to hate you, but I think more than hate it was disappointment. We knew you would never be who you could have been.

All this finals has done is prove to us what we should have already known. You just do not have the heart of past champions. You are arrogant and ignorant. Making fun of Dirk for being sick and then your comments about how rich you are after losing? Come on now. What are you thinking in your head that said either of those things were good ideas? Maybe you really should have went to college. The sad thing is we kind of made you who you are. You were coddled your entire life. Always told how great you were. Anointed the next coming of Jordan before you had ever won anything. We called you the king before you ever earned a crown. We were witnesses before there was all that much to observe. Who knows, maybe you will emerge from this stronger. Maybe one day you will become the champion we all once thought you would be. But you didn't do it the right way, and you lost a lot of your fans forever because of that. So you may win 6, 7, or even 8 rings but true basketball fans will never respect you for how you did it. We will never respect who you became in the process.