Rooting for Lebron

If there is one thing America hates, it’s a bitch. America loves the alpha male. For example, when the Miami Heat were down 2-0 in the 2006 NBA Finals, Dwyane Wade put the team on his back and scored 40 points a game the rest of the series to give the Heat the title. That was a classic American performance.

So in 2010, when reigning league MVP Lebron James announced he would be leaving his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers to join the Heat, America gagged. The Heat were already Wade’s team. His decision confirmed the mindset behind his inclination to pass the ball at critical junctures in the 2010 playoffs, rather than shoot. After the Decision, Lebron might as well have tattooed ‘I’m a huge bitch’ on his forehead.

After Lebron announced his Decision at the end of an hour-long ESPN special filmed in Greenwich CT, he joined his new teammates for an 11-month premature title celebration. It was so, so arrogant. But America is down with arrogance. 90% of golf fans root for Tiger Woods to win that elusive major championship, including myself. His text conversations with porn stars told us that he is one of the most prolific douchebags of our time, but also that he sure as hell wasn’t a bitch. At any rate, we want him to succeed. America turned on Lebron because he joined the wrong team. If he went the Knicks, everyone would have forgotten the excessive fanfare because his new team would be his team.

There’s only one person America hates more than Lebron, and thats Justin Bieber, who is Canadian. thus making Lebron the most widely-hated American today. I know this because of the YouTube top comment system, where one person writes the comment, and everyone else gives it a thumbs up. Upvoting: the democracy of the internet. There are only two public figures who get a steady dose of shit: Bieber and Lebron, those high-profile perceived bitches. Bieber as a symbol of bad music and the female gender: Lebron for his passive tendencies in important situations, and for his receding hairline, which for anyone else would be considered below the belt. But not for Lebron.

I only became a Lebron fan after he moved to the Heat, and it was a conscious decision. Right now he is my favorite athlete, by far. He’s all I got. The Seahawks and Mariners are mediocre, and the Sonics have long since mutated into the Oklahoma City Thunder (for which I explain my consequent depression here). The relocation of the Sonics roughly coincided with Lebron’s relocation to Miami, and as the Thunder become more dominant, more chic, more distant from their past in Seattle, so my affection for Lebron grows, and now in the Eastern Conference Finals it is reaching a fever pitch. If I had the choice between a night with Kate Upton and Lebron getting a championship, I’d take Lebron in a heartbeat.

I want Lebron to succeed on a personal level. Despite all that crap he pulled in the weeks before, during, and after the Decision, he seems like an okay dude who means well, and it irks me to see an okay dude get burned so insistently. He’s like an ant under a magnifying glass on a sunny day. I like his ugly mouthguard. I like the nerdy Nation of Islam casual wear he rocks after games. I like that he organized this powerful Heat tribute to Trayvon Martin. Kobe wouldn’t have done that.

I want Lebron to succeed on a basketball level. He just put together one of the finest seasons in the history in the league, and yet it won’t mean much if he doesn’t come away with a ring. History tends to be written in terms of winners and losers, and I don’t want Lebron to be a loser.

Most importantly, I want Lebron to crush the perception that he’s a bitch. As if he didn’t seem like a big enough bitch after the whole Celtics/Decision debacle, he was passive again in the 2011 Finals, when Dirk put the Mavericks on his back to give them the title. And then he dominated this year’s All-Star Game with 36 points, including 6-8 from beyond the arc, but in the dying seconds with his team down 151-149, and Kobe (playing for the other team) telling him to “shoot the fucking ball”, he chose to pass, and his pass was intercepted. Game over. That bothered me. He couldn’t even man up in the All-Star Game.

Lebron has earned some of America’s begrudging respect back with his phenomenal regular season and the 40-18-9 he put up in a must-win playoff game at Indiana. But the animosity lingers.  Two years ago, Lebron joined the Heat because he wanted to have championships rather than earn them. This so violated America’s principles of hard work and upward mobility that it could never forgive him. America still wants Lebron to fail.

The matchup isn’t set, but the NBA Finals will surely put the Heat against the San Antonio Spurs, who have yet to lose a playoff game and haven’t lost in six weeks. Some are calling the Spurs the best team ever. On the other side, the Heat are a .500 team at best if you remove Lebron from the equation. He has been putting the Heat on his back all season and all through the first two rounds of the playoffs. The Heat’s roster is razor-thin, especially with Chris Bosh injured indefinitely, and the Spurs’ is as deep and experienced as they come.

The Spurs are going to win, barring a Herculean performance by Lebron. It will be the end of the season, and his body won’t be 100%. If the Heat somehow win the title, Lebron won’t have just earned it — he will have taken it. If he can repress his throbbing urge to pass the ball in crunchtime and just drive to the hole, and if that shot goes in, he will have succeeded as a person, a basketball player, and as an American. If it misses, at least he leaves nothing of his determination to our imagination.

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