Rick Reilly Says Enough – I Say “PLEASE!”
By Guy Mitchell aka sweetg1
ESPN’s journalist Rick Reilly wrote a commentary this morning about LeBron James and how it was time to stop the hate. That enough was enough already – I say, “PLEASE”.
The entire article was posted here: http://espn.go.com/espn/story/_/id/8011587/lebron-being-lebron
For those that do not wish to pull up the link, I’ll summarize it for you. The first part of the story reads as follows:
This whole We Hate LeBron thing reminds me of a story.
A woman is in front of an apartment house that’s engulfed in flames. She’s screaming, “Help! Help! My baby’s in there!”
A man sprints up and says, “Which floor?”
“Tenth!” she screams. “In the back!”
He rips off his coat and goes running in. Five minutes later, he’s back, coughing, choking, and handing the woman the baby.
She looks at the man with a frown and sniffs, “He had a hat.”
That’s life for LeBron James.
Anything short of an NBA title makes James a useless wad of pre-chewed pork gristle in your eyes.
Whatever he does — three MVPs in nine seasons — it’s never enough. You hate him — still! — for the way he botched the announcement of his free-agent move from Cleveland to Miami.
Forget that hundreds of people move from Cleveland to Miami every year.
Forget that dozens of NBA players change teams every year.
It was only one mistake. Has he showed up in any police reports since? Has he cheated on his fiancée ? Has he left his children stranded in the pick-up circle at school?
I usually agree with some of his commentary, but I disagree with this one. People don’t hate or judge James because of “one mistake”. He is judged by the magnitude of the mistake. He brought his girlfriend (who was expecting a proposal) to national TV and broke up with her in the most public way possible. If people hated him because of a costly turnover (or something that might have occurred during a game when he was giving his best effort), that would be different, but I think people generally look at the ramifications of what he did. Chris Webber made “one mistake” and people didn’t hate him for it.
Reilly closed his article by saying that James is the kind of player who is loved by his teammates and suggests that THAT is the type of player that you want your kids to have as a hero. I don’t think most people would deny how great of a player he is. No matter how much people hate him, it’s hard to argue against the three MVPs that he has or how good of a teammate he is. In my opinion, the hate is more than one mistake, to which Reilly alludes, but the entire makeup of James. Yes, he dissed the entire state of Ohio. He also refused to shake an opponent’s hand after a playoff loss, claiming that he’s a competitor. I’m sorry, but I don’t recall Jordan (or Bird or Magic) EVER refusing to shake an opposing player’s hand when they lost and they were as competitive, if not more, than James).
When you start looking at some of these things collectively, then you find yourself saying, “is this the kind of guy who I want my kids to emulate?” I think it goes beyond “one mistake” and I think it goes beyond his analogy of “where’s the hat?”
Yes, he made a mistake (more than one, in my mind). However, fans love to forgive when players make mistakes. People look at Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds as guys who have made mistakes. Fans look at these guys and really spout venom at them. These mistakes are mistakes that may keep them out of the Hall of Fame. Andy Pettite made the same mistake, but he said he was sorry, and the people forgave him. McGwire made a mistake and people looked at him differently. When he stepped forward and apologized, people forgave him, even cheering him when he came back. In my mind, this is what’s wrong with the James generation. He is a great player, but he gives the impression that it’s not so much about the team, but it’s about him. When he didn’t pull the Cleveland Cavalier management aside and tell them that he was changing teams, he showed that he was only thinking about himself. When he refused to congratulate the other team after the playoff loss, he shouted, “I’m a competitor” as the reason instead of, “I gave it my best, but the other team played better”, and he ultimately made the loss about how competitive he was. I’m of the opinion that this is why people hate him or don’t relate to him. It has nothing to do with “forgetting the hat”. We live in the “me” generation.
I cannot cite all of the good things that he does away from the court. When James starts showing the public something besides great stats and allows us to see more and more of being a good person, then I (and others) will give him his props. Until then, consider me not a fan (but I’m willing to change my mind down the road).
A basketball fan who doesn’t live in Cleveland and doesn’t root for the Cavaliers
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