Friday, June 22, 2012 at 8:10 AM
Two years ago virtually every sports writer criticized LeBron for leaving Cleveland to “take [his] talents to South Beach.” But their criticism had far more to do with the fanfare he made of his announcement than with his leaving. And it did not matter to them that LeBron orchestrated that fanfare so that the millions generated could be donated to Boys & Girls Clubs nationwide, including in Cleveland.
No doubt this is why the schadenfreude was palpable last year, especially in Cleveland, when he led the Miami Heat to the finals only to literally choke under pressure, losing that seven-game series to the Dallas Mavericks 4-2.
What made winning a championship so sweet for Dr. J and Michael has to have been finally winning on a team with which they suffered so many years of playoff frustration. Not to mention the unbridled pride and joy they brought to longsuffering fans in cities that, in the case of Philadelphia, had not won an NBA championship in almost two decades, and in the case of Chicago, had never won at all.
By contrast, I fear that winning for LeBron will be bitter sweet. Not least because instead of being hailed as a basketball savior in Miami, where the Heat won a championship just years ago (in 2006), he’ll be regarded as nothing more than a hired gun who was brought in to help them win a few more…
[On the other hand] the people of Cleveland should be thanking their lucky stars that LeBron gave them seven years of the best entertainment in sports as well as ancillary economic benefits and national goodwill that most cities would die for. He did not sign a contract to be their golden goose for the rest of his career; therefore, the notion of a betrayal in this case is utterly baseless and irresponsible.
(“LeBron abandons Cleveland for Miami,” The iPINIONS Journal, July 13, 2010)
So here’s to what must be a bitter-sweet (and belated) victory for LeBron. I’m sure all is now forgiven in Miami for the blanks he shot last year. What’s more, given the way the Heat dispatched the Oklahoma Thunder in such convincing fashion 4-1, Miami fans can be forgiven their expectation that he really will deliver on his promise of:
[Not, one], not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, not seven and hey I’m not just up here blowing smoke at none of these fans … I’m about business and we believe we can win multiple championships….
(“Heat’s welcome party for LeBron,” YouTube, July 10, 2010)
Well, perhaps he can. But for now, congratulations to the Miami Heat on winning this year’s NBA championship. And oh what a relief it must be for their hired gun, series MVP LeBron James!