Monday, June 1, 2009

LeBron Has Entered the Dark Side

Sometime during the 2009 postseason, it became popular to hate LeBron James. I'll admit he's not helping his own cause at the moment, but where did this stem from exactly? He was The King, more likable than Kobe but just as marketable, a guy who played as hard as he could as long as he could and was making strides as a complete, all-around basketball player. But something happened during that Magic series; he became a closer.

The one knock on LeBron is that he was not clutch. Well, knocking down game-tying free throws, hitting a fade-away buzzer beater and winning an entire fourth quarter playing one-on-five put that notion to rest. Those moments propelled him to Kobe-status, a super stardom James was already at but now it's legitimatized. No doubt this was fueled by the ESPN Kobe-LeBron puppet ads. And there's no doubt this has also led to Lebron's polarization. You know he's big and you know he's legit because now he has more haters than every before.

James added more gas to the fire by his "poor sportsmanship" after the Game 6 loss. Failing to shake anybody's hand (but more importantly, Dwight Howard's hand) and not talking to the media, for the first time fans and sportswriters alike ripped LeBron and questioned his personality. For years we have been desperately seeking Jordan, but the once James does something purely Jordan-esque, he is condemned for it. I think it's clear that if Michael Jordan was playing in today's game, his legendary competitiveness would be chalked up to thuggery and selfishness.

So, there are two paths to follow now for LeBron. The first path is damage control, to repair his image and regain his status as King. This is the mostly likely route for James to take. But he can also decide that instead of being Kobe, he would much rather be Jordan. That path leads to storming off the court, not even caring who Dwight Howard is, jetting to New York and becoming the most feared player in the league. It is the Dark Side, and I hope he takes it.

Going from hometown boy to the savior of Cleveland is nice, but it's a fairy tale. Real life is mean an nasty, and that's what LeBron needs to be. I say flee to the Knicks, bring Bosh or Wade with you, and become part of the Jay-Z lifestyle you obviously love. The White Sportswriters of America will hate you for it. See how they fell in love with Howard, who is as nice as can be with a million dollar smile. You tried that, but the Magic series brought out the real you. There is no turning back.


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