DionRabouin.com (sort of)

Defending LeBron

Posted in Sports by dionrabouin on July 9, 2010

First, let me make clear I don’t like LeBron James. I’ve met the guy and interviewed him and judging from our brief encounter and what I’ve seen from his on (and off) the court behavior, he’s the very definition of a megalomaniac. In his defense, if you were dubbed “The Chosen One” when you were 18-years-old and had been the biggest thing in your state since you were 14, can you honestly say you wouldn’t have an enormous ego too? The guy has been worshiped like a 6’8 deity for as long as he can remember, why should we expect him to have any reasonable grip on reality?

That said, I think he’s been taking way more heat (no pun intended) than he deserves. People want to compare him to other great players and say ‘Oh, player X would never have left his team to have a better chance at a championship.’ I’ve been hearing Michael Jordan mentioned a lot in that X spot.

Those comparisons aren’t fair for a couple reasons. Number one, Jordan played in a different era of free agency. When he was a player, organizations could offer significantly longer contracts. The stars never really aligned like this for Michael and to be honest, if they had, before he won a title with the Bulls, I think he would’ve left Chicago.

Michael also played with the best coach in NBA history and one of the 50 greatest players of all time. LeBron has never even had a good teammate, nevertheless a great one. Scottie Pippen is a Hall-of-Fame player. Do you honestly think anyone that LeBron’s ever played with, aside from Shaq who was 10 years past his prime when they played together, will even be considered? Mike James has to be the worst head coach of a finals team ever. Not to mention the Cavaliers organization was a spineless bunch of yes men who caved to LeBron’s every whim. LeBron got mediocrity from that organization in every way for seven years. And let’s not forget he lived in a city whose nickname is “The Mistake by the Lake.” Of course he left.

As far as needing Wade and Bosh to win a championship, when you’ve been literally carrying a bunch of scrubs and an incompetent coach on your back for seven years, having a championship cast around looks especially good. If they can stick together and bring up young talent, this team has a chance – not an especially good chance, but a chance – to push the late ’50s – early ’60s Celtics for championship dominance. It’s a long shot, but LeBron’s only 25, Bosh is 26 and Wade is 28. If we go by the Scottie Pippen scale of durability for Wade and Bosh (because they went to college) they’ve each got 10 years left, with six or seven of those being elite level seasons for Bosh and four or five for Wade. If we put LeBron on the Kevin Garnett straight outta high school scale, LeBron’s got about six more elite years left too and probably 12 years left in the league.

If Eric Spoelstra is the genius that Pat Riley thinks he is, these guys could be great for 10 years (because even if Riley takes over this year, he doesn’t have 10, or even five, years left in him). That’s a dynasty. Forget this three championships in five years crap, these guys could reign over the league like no team has done in 50 years. To be a part of that has to enticing. And while they’ll never say he was better than Jordan, he could have more rings than Jordan and be a part of team that was better than any Jordan played for. That’s something.

Finally, I’ll ask this: how can you fault a guy for giving up money, fame, ego, the love of his hometown fans and individual glory for the sake of winning? Isn’t that what sports are supposed to be all about? We sit here and bash all these paycheck players who do it just for the money and this guy has said with his words and his actions that the money isn’t what’s important to him. Admittedly he’s got plenty of it and he’ll be making plenty more, but seriously, he gave up a lot just to win. If nothing else, at least cut him a break for that.

And yes, “The Decision” special was a bit much – I didn’t watch, if you did that’s your own fault – but at least he used it to donate money to charity. I’m a product of the Boys and Girls club and I’ll never fault a guy for helping out a great organization, even if it was merely a bi-product of feeding his massive, massive ego.

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