“What’s up, 1 through 5?” – Erik Spoelstra, Miami Heat Head Coach.
He did not rape anybody. He does not have several different kids to several different ‘baby mommas’. And he has never been convicted for murdering dogs. But because of a couple of ill-advised decisions, he is hated more than those guys.
For the entire 2010/11 NBA season, every game away from Miami became a playoff game. LeBron from the moment he stepped upon the court until the he stepped off it was greeted with deafening disapproval. The Cleveland mascot wore in a bulletproof vest for LeBron’s first game back in Cleveland because he simply did not know what to expect. The hate for him was that intense.
He changed. LeBron embraced the villain. He tried to thrive on the hate. He lost on the big stage.
His failure in the finals cast him into the darkness of Michael Jordan’s shadow. He was critiqued on everything that he was not; ignored for everything that he was. His legacy was already defined, even though he was only 27.
This season has been different. He gave up playing with the game with hate. He went back to enjoying the game, playing it his way. The 6’8 ft, 250 pound James’ went H.A.M on the Association (This). The fact that he averaged 27 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists in a lockout affected season is remarkable. Averaging over 37 minutes and playing 62 out of 66 possible games, he had no other goal but to dominate. On top of phenomenal offensive production, his defence was near league best, showcased by the ability to guard any player from point guard to centre.
This consistent display by the best basketball player in the world is not what is impressive of this MVP winning season.
The LeBron James and Dwyane Wade organised, team photo in response to the Trayvon Martin shooting says more about LeBron than any statistic on the court could. He used his power and influence to make a political stand. In a world of luxury, it is a show of maturity.
LeBron’s maturity echoes through on the podium. His speech is humble. He love for those close to him is evident. He acknowledges the sacrifices those close to him make; his teammates and family. It is during that speech, that I feel he is ready; to quell the hate and bring back to Miami a championship.