Courtesy of MCT
Sometime during the third quarter of the Miami Heat’s trouncing of the Oklahoma City Thunder to win the NBA Finals Thursday, the camera zoomed in on LeBron James.
I’m not sure why, but he was making a twisting motion with his hands, like he was wringing water out of a wet rag.
Heat fans joined arm in arm at the bar of the Buffalo Wild Wings where I was watching the game. They were all wearing their team memorabilia (which was probably purchased in the last month), standing the entire time and were consumed in a joyous stupor that only an inevitable championship and a little too much to drink could produce.
At that moment, I felt like my neck was between LeBron’s twisting hands.
I’m a LeBron hater. I despise him. My utter disdain for the man is ingrained into my psyche.
For that reason I can’t objectively discuss anything related to him, but in my defense, there are few who can. LeBron, like politics or religion, can rarely be discussed rationally.
As a Cleveland Cavaliers supporter, I will never and can never forgive him for what he did to that city. I’m not going to get into the semantics of the situation (we can save that for another day), but please don’t reduce it to ‘who wouldn’t want to leave Cleveland for Miami?’ To pretend it was that simple is ignorant to an infinite degree.
Later in the night, I sullenly rose from my chair to head to the bathroom, shuffling past the Heat fans’ victory party on my way.
I didn’t find this out until later, but while I was doing my business in the bathroom, one of the obnoxious Heat fans came over to my girlfriend (who was watching the game with me).
The exchange, according to my girlfriend, went something like this:
Obnoxious Heat fan: “Do you want to see something funny?”
Obnoxious Heat fan: “Look at these.”
He then whipped out his phone and showed my girlfriend three pictures he had taken of the two of us throughout the night.
The first was one of me obviously upset sometime earlier in the game. The second was of me angrily typing something into my phone. And the third was one with my head in my hands, looking defeated.
Obnoxious Heat fan: “Aren’t those hilarious? My friends and I can’t stop laughing.”
Girlfriend: “Actually that’s really creepy. We don’t even know you.”
Of course it’s creepy. It’s beyond weird.
When my girlfriend decided I had finally cooled down enough to tell me the story, it got me thinking.
LeBron gave up a lot for this championship. People like that are his supporters now – people who think rooting for a team that so many people hate is cool and edgy.
Well, the King may have a ring, but the haters will still sing, whether he thinks so or not.
According to Sports Illustrated, LeBron called his veteran teammate Shane Battier over to him after the game.
“What are they gonna say, Shane?” James said.
“Nothing,” Battier said.
“What are they gonna say, Shane?”
“Nothing,” Battier said.
Well, contrary to what Mr. Battier believed in the midst of the Heat’s champagne supernova, I do indeed have something to say.
Yes, LeBron won his championship. He got the monkey off his back and shirked the “I-don’t-perform-well-in-big-games” image along the way.
But does anyone honestly believe it ends here? Do you think with the championship, LeBron and his buddy Dwayne Wade can skip happily into the sunset?
I hate to sound like Lee Corso, but…
Not so fast.
LeBron, championship or no championship, is still one of the most hated men in all of sports.
He still holds a spot on Cleveland sports’ Mount Rushmore of most hated people with Art Modell and John Elway.
And so no matter how many championships the so-called king wins, ‘they’ are always going to have something to say.
If for no other reason than because he could have had so much more and willingly chose to give it away.
Not all championships are created equal.
A single championship in Cleveland and LeBron would have been a borderline deity.
A championship in New York and he would have ruled the world’s greatest city.
A championship in Miami and it’s good chatter before people head out to the club.
Now LeBron’s supporters are like the obnoxious fans at Buffalo Wild Wings.
And unlike them, I still will hold LeBron to his word.
In 2006 LeBron told ESPN the Magazine, “I don’t want to go ring chasing. I want to stay with the Cavs and build a champion.”
We all know how that ended.
In 2010, right after LeBron signed with Miami and started talking about how many championships he was going to win.
“Not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, not seven,” he said. “And when I say that, I really believe it. I’m not just up here blowing smoke.”
Well, one down LeBron. You’re 12.5 percent of the way to what you said you would accomplish.
Guess who will be there to see if you can make it the rest of the way?
I’ll give you a hint. They don’t take pictures of strangers at bars.