So, LeBron James won an NBA title last week. Immediately, the beatifying began. People suddenly forgot about his ridiculous decision two summers ago. People suddenly forgot that he cheated the system, that he decided to join his biggest rival and coerce another all-star to join them. But you know what? After what LeBron James did the last month, starting with massive performances when down 2-1 against Indiana and without their big-man, I forgot about it as well.
The Indiana beatdowns were just the beginning. LeBron followed with the only performance of his career that could rival that Game 6 back in 2007 against the Pistons. Down 3-2 against Boston and heading to that Sam Adams Factory of a city, LeBron was about to be demolished by every fat slob sportswriter again for "choking" and "coming up small" and all those others things. What did LeBron do? He score 40 in three quarters. He could've pushed 60 if he didn't sit due to the fact that the Heat were up by enough already. Against one of the most spirited, arrogant teams put together (that other 'Big 3'), a team that had knocked LeBron out of the playoffs in 2008 and 2010 in their home building, LeBron gave a performance fit for a King. That's when it really started.
After losing Game 1 against OKC, and actually looking like the slower team, LeBron decided to show up, to do all those things people said he didn't do when the bright lights of the playoffs came. He posted up. He took over in crunch time. He defended everything. He was a beast, he put together four games that rival anything anyone not named Jordan has put up. That's when it was cemented.
I don't care about the fact that LeBron is the best player of the past ten years. I don't care about all those idiots telling me I need to appreciate him, or that we should stop hating him, or that he has redeemed himself after uttering that ridiculous sentence of "I am taking my talents to South Beach." To me, he did none of that. I still hate him. I still think he complains way too much, is given way too much lee-way and respect by the referees, and did something so cowardly by teaming up with the best players he could fine, and doing it while pretending not to and making every NBA team fellate him for one summer. I still hate him for all of that, but I am glad LeBron got his title.
Like most things in my life as a sports fan, it connects to Peyton Manning. For years, I had to defend Peyton Manning from all the idiots that said he's a choker, that he can't win the big one, that a man who had his kicker and defense carry him to a title was better than him. I had to listen to all of that even after Manning won his title. People tried to say it was only because he had to face Rex Grossman (never mind the fact the Bears had the NFC's best defense, and the 2006 Colts were the only team ever to beat the #1, #2 and #3 scoring defenses in one playoff run). Being a Colts fan was hard, and Peyton Manning isn't even an arrogant jag like LeBron. But I still felt bad for LeBron, for having to go through that same "he can't win the big one" stuff that Peyton had to.
Now, I will say that LeBron, and NBA players in general, can do more for their team to win a title than a QB, but still, it was obvious that he has been the best player in the NBA over the past five seasons. Yet people were saying Kobe was better. People were saying Durant was better. Derrick Rose somehow won an MVP last year. LeBron sat there and took it all, and he finally got his ring.
Personally, I think LeBron really just wants to be liked. He's just really awkward at doing it. Something like the NBA version of A-Rod. His biggest fault is that he tries way too hard to be liked. Every move seems calculated, targeted. In a way, I feel bad for him. I don't think LeBron ever thought his decision would come with that much back-lash, that much hatred. We even have evidence since he's already admitted he hasn't ruled out a potential return to Cleveland. I do feel bad about the way people excoriated LeBron. I always felt it was fair to blame him for taking the easy way out (and guess what? it worked), but not for being way too obtuse and over-his-head to not know that the decision was a huge mistake.
LeBron has his title. After arguably his worst career failing last season (blowing a 2-1 series lead to Dallas, a team that seems very underrated historically, given their dominating romp through the playoffs last season, beating this same OKC team 4-1 and beating this same Miami team 4-2), LeBron looked way over his head. Well, just like MJ who lost to the Pistons twice in a row before his dominance started, or Kobe (sans Shaq) losing the final-clincher by 39 one year before winning two straight titles, and like what Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook will do soon, LeBron took his fall, got up and finished the job. LeBron has his title. Now, LeBron, just don't do it again.