Last night was the culmination of years upon years of adversity for LeBron James. No player in, probably the history of sports, garnered as much criticism and pure hatred than LeBron. He had become the biggest villain in all of sports.
Proclaimed as “The Chosen One”, after being drafted out of St Vincent St Mary High School in Akron Ohio, we finally saw the prophecy fulfilled last night, in what was a dominating performance by both him and the Heat as a team. Excuse me while I nerd out for a second. LeBron was called “The Chosen One” and so was Anikan Skywalker. Skywalker became Darth Vader (the villain) and it seemed as though all hope was lost until he finally fulfilled the prophecy. LeBron had to embrace becoming the villain before he could fulfill his own prophecy. Ok I’m back, if you are still with me after that ‘nerdgasm’.
After failing in the playoffs time and time again with the Cleveland Cavaliers, and the Cavs failing to supplement LeBron’s talent (through 8 years) with anyone high caliber, LeBron felt that the only way to win would be to join Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami. The next couple of months would define him as a person and make him a villain in the eyes of a majority of sports fans. “The Decision”, “The Promise”, “The Failure”. These would all set the stage for this season.
If you didn’t watch this year’s NBA Playoffs (especially LeBron’s performance) for some crazy reason, I truly pity you. LeBron dominated in every facet of the game. He shut down Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks in the first round in five games. He carried them past a deep Pacers team in 6 games. And finally, in one of the most legendary performances in the history of the NBA, he brought his team back from the brink of elimination with back to back wins against the Celtics. He played all of game seven and hit a 30 foot three pointer that would seal the deal and would advance the Heat to the NBA Finals to finally face down their demons.
LeBron put up ridiculous numbers in the Finals, now silencing the critics that said he couldn’t perform on the biggest stage. He had worked himself so hard through the playoffs (now top five in playoff minutes per game all time) that in game four he broke down with thigh cramps, yet still came back in the game to hit the go ahead for good three pointer. He then wisely came out because he was not quick enough to guard anyone on the Thunder due to the injury.
Prior to game five, you could see it in his eyes. You could see that he knew he was so close to holding the O’Brien trophy and the Bill Russell Finals MVP trophy. He then went out and did everything for the Heat just as he had been doing all season. He recorded his second triple double of the Finals leading the Heat to a dominating 15 point victory.
Last night I used the hashtag #SilenceTheCritics to signify LeBron’s victory. This doesn’t mean that the criticism will simply disappear because it just never will. However, it does mean that there is no rationality behind it anymore. All it is now is muffled whispers. I can only imagine what it felt like for LeBron to finally have that load removed from his shoulders, he is free.
People will continue to make excuses to discredit his accomplishments. Refs, conspiracy theories, not enough rings will all be popular. It doesn’t matter though because LeBron will continue to prove everyone wrong. He will never win with everyone, but why should he care. He has gotten what he deserved. This isn’t the end for LeBron either. It’s FAR from it. He is only 27. Jordan won his first Finals and Finals MVP at 28 and Kobe won his first Finals MVP at 30. We have a long way to go yet with LeBron. “But LeBron was in the league longer than Jordan” is a common rebuttal to that. I would agree that’s a valid point if years in the league actually affected mental maturity. But it doesn’t. People mature because they get older, not because they play a game for more time. That’s a common misconception people have.
People criticize LeBron for “having” to join Wade and Bosh to get to the top. By the way people act about Jordan, you would have thought he scored every single point for the Bulls during their hay days. People forget that Pippen, Rodman, Kerr and the rest were FAR from scrubs. Not to mention Jordan had arguably the best coach in NBA history, Phil Jackson. LeBron has a great supporting cast, sure. But so did Jordan. Obviously LeBron will have to win a few more Finals for me to compare him to Jordan without being called a “retard”, but that shouldn’t be the case.
LeBron is the most talented basketball player the world has ever seen and if the critics were to just calm down for a second, they would realize this. He is a team player, values winning over personal stats, and can do pretty much anything his team needs. Why then does he garner so much hatred? Well, he shouldn’t. Sure he has done some, simply dumb things, but all the stars have.
I have spent years defending LeBron James and I felt this victory right along with him. Seeing him finally smile (it seemed like he hadn’t all season, especially the playoffs) with trophy in hand was so gratifying for me. Some tears of joy ran down my face. That’s the beauty of sports. Last night will go down in history and it’s a shame that some people missed it because they were too busy thinking of ways to hate a person that they have never met.
All there is left to say though is long live The King, the Chosen One. It’s been a long wait but “it’s about damn time”.