On Liking LeBron Again

Somewhere deep within my manic enthusiasm for the Grizzlies’ and Mavericks’ second round success, a tortured voice inside my head screams, “HEAT!! Heat!? Heat? Hea. H..”

Wait, I’m rooting for the Heat? I’m rooting for the Heat. And if there’s any new sentiment that I’m able to put into words it would be, ahem, this: I think I might like LeBron again.

No, I really never thought this day would come. So the fact that it has come in May of 2011 has sent shivers up my basketball veins. It perhaps has a lot to do with the fact that Bron and the Heat are playing the Celtics, the team that just completed a cold-blooded sweep against my Knicks, not just a postseason sweep, but a season sweep, and a preseason sweep. One out of every nine Knicks games this year was a loss to the Celtics, with the Knicks going 0-10 against the Cs this year.

Rooting for the current lesser of two evils is one thing. But I’m afraid this whole liking LeBron thing might last a lot longer than this series. As his characterization of NBA’s lead-villain became all the more overhyped, overblown, and oversaturated – the more of an underdog he became. Now as fans begin to flock toward the previously understated stardom of youngsters Derrick Rose and Kevin Durant, there is suddenly this vacated corner of the league where LeBron stands, by himself – and I want to join him. (Though I wouldn’t be surprised if Chris Bosh was there, too – topless and crying.)

But it might all boil down to this: Before LeBron can fail and fail miserably, he first needs to succeed. We need a reason to hate him, a reason bigger than contrived press conferences and dick moves: success. Success, the birthplace of hate. Population: Lakers, Yankees, Patriots, etc. Until LeBron takes his talents from failure to success, he can only be characterized as a tool, a coward, and a d-bag. For him to transcend those cheap insults and begin to channel true hatred from me and the rest of the country, LeBron must do something he has never done before: win.

I’m not going to say that this paradox is entirely analogous to white supremacists backing Barack Obama, but it’s close. This phenomenon occurred before the 2008 election, where Klan members supported Obama, predicting a failed presidency that would deliver a blow to the black race. The Esquire article gives a humorous portrait of some of the key racists involved, including Erich Gliebe, who delivered this gem:

“Perhaps the best thing for the white race is to have a black president. My only problem with Obama is perhaps he’s not black enough.”

Perhaps the best thing for those who want LeBron to fail is to have him first succeed. My only problem is Rajon Rondo.

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6 thoughts on “On Liking LeBron Again

  1. THANK GOD. I am so tired of people ragging on LeBron James (I’m talking to you, Michael Jordan). Sure, MJ would have never left Chicago to join up with other superstars, but he also had PHIL JACKSON AS A COACH. LeBron James didn’t have a Phil Jackson at Cleveland. Shit, LeBron didn’t even have a Toni Kukoc.

    And to all you “Decision” haters, you made that happen. All of the hoopla concerning LeBron and his potential destinations, you created it. You created that monster and because he didn’t choose the destination you liked, you hated him. Well, I say, GET OVER IT. This is basketball, y’all. THIS IS LIFE.

    • I don’t know, man. “The Decision” was one of those defining moments for me. It’s like I can’t just start rooting for Michael Richards again, yknow. But maybe I can still be a Kramer fan. I don’t know. It’s all very complicated. We’ll understand when we’re older.

      • Kerem, why can’t you root for Michael Richards? What exactly would it take for you to root for him again?

        A sincere apology? An acknowledgment of mistakes made? Time in prison? Or something else? Or nothing?

        Maybe the more profound question to ask would be: what exactly do you mean by “root”?

        • To expound, I’m asking because I myself have fallen casualty to hating other people for their mistakes, for their wrongdoings, and for their crimes.

          I’ve hated Michael Richards. I’ve hated Tom Cruise. I’ve hated Mel Gibson, Charlie Sheen, David Letterman, John Rocker, Kobe Bryant, Mark Wahlberg, Michael Jackson…

          …for things they said and did, never to me explicitly. Yes, I was never the direct target. But yet, I felt that – as a part of society – they had attacked me. I had long hated racists, sexists, homophobes, atheist-bashers, and celebrities accused of sexual assault because they had hated somebody else, and hate was not a way to live.

          Hating people for the color of their skin, their gender, and the sexual orientation is looked down on in society, finally. But all different kinds of hate are still tolerated – hating people for their religion, their political views, their class, their appearance, their attitudes, their actions, their words. We attach all of these things to the identity of a person, to simplify them, without acknowledging that we are covering up who they really are.

          If we really stand for people to be universally loved and accepted, I request that we universally love and accept everyone. Not just people like us, not just people who never make mistakes, not just people who do things that don’t hurt us.

          To look at the world through a world of hate will color your life (!) in a world of hate. Hate will arise at every opportunity. All actions will appear to be rooted in hatred. But to really imagine a world where love is present universally would require us to actually love people, universally. I don’t claim to do this all the time, but I am open and willing to start now – by forgiving and loving Michael Richards, David Letterman, Kobe Bryant, and all the douches in my life – and seeing them as human beings, underneath all of those things that clouded their identity. Rooting for them, on the other hand…

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