Say Goodnight to the Bad Guy – For Now

You know that saying about how things tend to come full circle?  I think that last nights game does a pretty good job of fulfilling that cliche.  In what was one the NBA’s finest years, it’s only right that we end where it all began – hating on LeBron James.

If you are sick about all of the media attention surrounding James then you may want to go on vacation in a very remote area of the world, because we are all about to be treated to plenty of “LeBron’s Legacy” discussion for at least a week or two – or until the NBA Labor Talks heat up, which should be relatively soon. If you are relishing in James’ failure then you are in for a good time for the foreseeable future. I can only imagine how jubilant Skip Bayless was last night, and what he had to say on First Take this morning.

I’ve always thought that it was strange for people outside of Cleveland to have such vehement hatred towards LeBron. Yes the “Decision” was a dumb idea, and he could have definitely treated this offseason with a lot more class, but to hear some people talk about him you would think that they killed a group of puppies or something truly egregious.

The fact that James is a more hated athlete in this country than Mike Vick really says something about how the public perceives athletes. As far as we know LeBron has never committed a serious crime, but he has drawn the ire of the public by refusing to apologize for stringing us all along last summer. Vick apologized for his transgressions, and even though he committed serious crimes, and did things that most Americans find repulsive, repentance is a very powerful weapon in the world of public relations.

I don’t think James feels like he needs to say sorry to anyone for the choices he made last summer. Even if he knows that he went about doing things in the wrong manner, and has said as much, but I don’t think there is an apology coming any time soon.

It would take someone much smarter than I to explain all the factors that go in to America’s intense dislike of James, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say I enjoyed having LeBron play the role of villain this year, whether he wanted the title or not. I may not share in America’s hatred for anything Heat related, but it was nice to have a team to root against, and when the Heat played the Mavs in the Finals, it was easy to root for a guy like Dirk who has played with the same team his whole career.

In a way I feel bad for Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd. This should have been their moment to celebrate the crowning achievement of their Hall of Fame careers, but the story has been more about how the Megateam failed than how two of the greatest players in the history of the NBA finally got their rings. But this is just the world we live in, it’s a lot easier to focus on the failure’s of someone who is hated by the general public than too appreciate the success of players that are on teams we do not have a vested interested in.

I doubt that Dirk is going to mind the lack of intense media coverage that he probably deserves right now. I could be totally wrong here but, Nowitzki doesn’t strike me as someone who wants to be the center of attention all of the time. That’s what I’ve appreciated about his game over the years, he has improved vastly since entering the league, but he has done so in a way so subtle that it only becomes apparent when it comes under the intense scrutiny that playing in the NBA Finals can provide.

LeBron has always craved the attention, and now he has it, just not the kind he is looking for. There’s nothing subtle about his game, and I think it’s fair to say at this point that he has not taken the steps necessary to evolve into the kind of player that can carry a team to a title.

It would be wise for James to look at how Dirk went about getting a title, and start working on his game instead of worrying about what the world thinks about him. Because if he takes the time to develop a post game, or even the high post game that we see Nowitzki, Bryant, and Pierce use to such devastating effect he will be unstoppable. Then the world can call him whatever they want, but they’ll also have to call him a champion.