“…I’m going to take my talents to South Beach and join the Miami Heat. …”
And with that statement by LeBron James, the national contempt for the Miami Heat was born. From that moment on, anything and everything associated with the Miami Heat, elicited a level of vitriol typically reserved for violent criminals and Black Presidents who try and give sick people Health Care. Let’s put it this way, if Osama Bin Laden had bought the Heat, and became their version of Mark Cuban, the public outrage may have been less palpable.
Ok-that’s a bit extreme, a hyperbolic liberty taken; but save for Miami, there is no denying our collective and seemingly irrational hate for the Heat. But is it truly irrational? Many columnists have suggested that now is the time to “let go” of our hate for LeBron James and the Miami Heat. Get over it they say, LeBron James is the best player in the NBA, and all he did was chose the Heat over your team. Well do as you wish, but my hate, rational or not, is here to stay.
To say that all those who hold ill feelings towards the Heat are simply the collective equal to a bitter spurned lover, or maybe better put, admirer, is to over simplify the issue, and moreover is to absolve LeBron and company of any wrongdoing. Simply put, it’s wrong.
To think that this widespread resentment towards James is based solely on what took place at a Boys and Girls Club gym in Greenwich, Connecticut, is to be erroneously selective with one’s memory. “The Decision”, with its salient lowlights-a distracting checkered shirt, 16 painfully pointless Jim Gray questions, and of course the shameless use of children as props; was simply nourishment for seeds which had been planted by James long prior.
Stephen Stills, the Isley Brothers, CSNY, Aretha Franklin, and a host of others, insightfully counseled us to “Love the One You’re With”. LeBron James apparently never took the song to heart. On May 11, 2010, LeBron James publicly abandoned the Cleveland Cavaliers, his teammates, and most egregiously, his adoring fans. That day saw James, in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Celtics, which arguably was the biggest game in team history, shoot 3-14 from the field, for what turned out to be his last 15 points at Quicken Loans Arena as a Cav. James appeared to be at best apathetic towards the games outcome, and at worst intentionally sabotaging it. The Cavs lost 120-88, and while there was still a Game 6 to lose, that game was for all intents and purposes, the end of the series, the end of the season, and the end of LeBron James in Cleveland.
What was soon to follow was the disgusting deception fueled circus known as 2010 Free Agency. The NBA world, and in particular a handful of teams and their fans, hung on the every word and action of “King James”. Teams came to him, with elaborate presentations that would serve as nothing more than food for his ego. As “Flash” and CB4 were busy having their ego’s stroked as well, James, casually and disrespectfully dressed as if home with the flu, soaked it all in, insight and judgment as skewed as ever, hubris as conspicuous as ever. All interested parties anxiously awaited word on his decision, sadly much the way one anxiously awaits word from their doctor regarding biopsy results. His decision however, as Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh already knew, had been made long prior, the only decision left was on how to announce it.
“The Decision” came and a universal bout of emesis ensued; we thought that in terms of sickening and gradniose displays of self-indulgence, the worst was behind us. We were wrong. What followed was a public “welcoming party”, one which embodied all that was wrong with this entire process. What had started years prior, at the 2008 Summer Games as a simple, innocuous “What if?” conversation between friends, and had eventually led to years of deceit, to broken promises and broken hearts to match, visually culminated in this premature Championship Parade, which featured promises of “not one not two not three….” and had pyrotechnics to boot. The message was clear, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh had joined forces to take over the NBA; the Larry O’Brien trophy was theirs until further notice.
Meanwhile, 1200 miles away, Derrick Rose worked on his three point shot. Joakim Noah lifted weights. New coach Tom Thibodeau was becoming acclimated with his team, and was planning accordingly. They, and their fellow Bulls realized then what they still realize now: No team, no player, is simply entitled to the NBA Championship-you have to earn it.
Why do we hate LeBron James and the Heat? We as a people subscribe to the adage that hard work is the path to success, that the best things in life generally do not come easy. We expect, not simply desire honesty and decency. As they planned their incarnation of the Big Three, James, Wade and Bosh, thought that honesty and decency would be all that stood between them and the Larry O’Brien Trophy. They were wrong, and Derrick Rose and company knew it before we did.
Be Good Friends,