Tales From the Hilltop
An intelligent, yet Devil's Advocate view of the world

Episode Thirty-Five: Darth Brizzle and the Basketball Prophecy

“I can feel your anger. It makes you stronger. Gives you focus.”  Darth Sidious, Star Wars – Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

Today’s episode is a look at the transformation into the guy who went from one of the most loved players in the NBA to now what seems as its most despised player, one Mr. LeBron James.

Now, if you ever read this blog before, there was an episode where I chronicled the upcoming free-agency period he would undergo after the 2009-2010 season, and how the entire sports world would view his decision. This picks up where that left off. Now, as we all know, LeBron shocked the sports universe by deciding not only to leave his home state’s team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, but to join two of the Top 10 players in the NBA in Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh for an essential super-team in the Miami Heat.

What followed after this “decision” while was media backlash of epic proportions. First, the country was almost horrified to see that James had basically turned his back on his home state by leaving them on national TV. That night, the country saw – on ESPN, the network that pretty much promoted all this – the city of Cleveland pretty much denounce the guy overnight: merchandise was thrown away or destroyed, jerseys burned, and the name “LeBron James” became the arch-nemesis to Clevelanders, Ohioans, and basketball purists everywhere. And then there was the open letter by Cavs owner, Dan Gilbert. Too funny to be taken serious. Too serious to be ignored.

But this is all history. We’ve seen the jilted venom all summer that was hurled towards this man.

(For the record: I was never a Cavs fan, nor much a LeBron fan, but I’m trying to call a spade a spade here.)

Fast forward to the start of the new NBA season, with this new Miami team pretty much being the focal point.  The collective energy of the fans was that Miami was now the team to beat – and hate – throughout their campaign. So, for the most part of the early months, he’s been bombarded by boos, jeers, even racial gestures both on and off the court.

My question is “Why?” Why should this man be treated as the worst person in the world simply because he went to a team he thought had an exponentially better chance to win NBA titles over the next six years then the team he left behind?

I guess the first reason for what seems like sincere hatred for this man is because most of the American public took the sympathy for Clevelanders and blamed LeBron for their continuing misery. To most of America, LeBron leaving that city was LIKE driving a silver spike through their hearts. For a city that hasn’t seen a major sports title in either football with the Browns, basketball with the Cavs, or baseball with the Indians come to their hometown since the Korean War or so, we felt bad. We thought that LeBron would eventually take them to the first championship and give them hope. Seeing him leave was very familiar to the way Anakin Skywalker – who was also referred to as the Chosen One – switched sides to become Darth Vader and help almost extinct the Jedi. The empathy felt towards Cleveland pretty much had the rest of the country hating LeBron.

The second reason is purists everywhere were claiming that LeBron cheated the game by teaming up with Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh, superstars in the NBA as well to form this new team. They claimed that these three – spearheaded by James, of course – crushed the idea of fair and balanced competition towards the game and were very quick to point out that none of the game’s all-time legends: namely Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, or Magic Johnson who would never think of aligning with each other to win championships.

So, as I now go back to my original question of “Why”, I’m going to try to offer different perspectives of the major questions asked about this move.

Perspective #1 – He gave up on the city of Cleveland. I find that to be nothing more than the worst analyzing of basketball ever.  For years, even the most casual fan was often left wondering as to who would finally be the last piece to a championship puzzle for the Cavs, in being a suitable sidekick to back-up LeBron. We never got an answer to that question. The Cavs front office failed to provide the right person to assist LeBron, mostly relying on him to save them every night. I believe his main reason to leave was based on this. He didn’t want to be on a team that matter how hard he tried, his supporting cast couldn’t help in delivering a title to Cleveland. And isn’t basketball a team sport, after all? I mean, look at the Cavs right now. As of today, they are the worst team in the league. If ownership was any good and confident that could win a title without LeBron (as Gilbert’s crazy break-up letter pretty much guaranteed they’d do), them him leaving wouldn’t have caused the Cavs to totally implode the way they have this season, no matter how great his skills are in today’s game.

Perspective #2 – He cheated competition to win. OK, going on the notion that basketball takes more than one guy to get a title, no one person has been able to do this. Mike had Scottie Pippen (a hall-of-fame player), Larry had Kevin McHale (HoF), Robert Parish, and Dennis Johnson (HoF). Magic had Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (one of THE greatest players of all-time), and James Worthy (HoF as well), and the list goes on. So, if this is true, and it’s been pretty much proven that no matter how talented, special, gifted, or basketball savvy one guy is, why should he shoulder his own championship load alone?  The decision that was made for all three of them to play in Miami for the next five or six years was mutually done by all three, and they even took less money they could get elsewhere to do so.  Besides, no one’s crowning the Heat champs yet. The games still have to be played. We’ll see how that pans out. (Because I still believe at this moment, the Boston Celtics are the team to beat)

Perspective #3 – James is an egomaniac, and the “Decision” show was the worst showing of selfishness in sports EVER. Honestly, I don’t have a defense for this. He may very well be (and that special may have topped them all), but he wouldn’t be the first ultra star athlete to be on that level. And why should he stop now? The people pretty much made him this way. He didn’t nickname himself “King James” coming out of high school; ESPN did. He wasn’t going around calling himself “The Chosen One”, every sports magazine on the planet did that, which spread to the people.  So, if after 10 years of global – not national, global – praise, admiration, elite status amongst the people (while making nine-figures of income per year), can you blame the guy if he thinks he’s better than 99.9999975% of the Earth’s population, and has been since the day he came into the NBA? I’m not excusing it, but I’m just trying to explain as to why “all of sudden, James’ ego has come full circle.” My point in this; don’t hate him now, when he was like this all the while Cleveland, just because he’s not on the Cavs anymore. Don’t be hypocrites about the situation.

To be honest, as I go back to the title of this episode, I’ve made one rational conclusion of what LeBron should do with all this newfound negativity surrounding him: love it.

Cherish it.

Embrace it.

Hell, become one with it.

He should  appreciate the new role of “King Villain” that’s been bestowed upon him. For one, it seems to have given him a new focus for the game into helping the Heat dominate the league in becoming that feared team people though they’d reach with this line-up. For another, it would take away some of the phoniness I felt James was giving off in justifying his decision, hoping people would still like him. Honestly, why should he care that everyone outside of the city of Miami and his fan base thinks? As long as he’s playing at high levels, his team accepts him, his family and friends are backing him, then SCREW everyone else. It’s not their concern, and the sooner he realizes this, the better off he and the Heat will be. Besides, becoming one with the role he been given seems to give him more of an edge on the league anyways. And everyone seems to love anti-heroes these days. Trust me, if it worked for Kobe, it’ll work for LeBron. Watch. All it will take is time…and rings.

So, you know what? I’ll never call LeBron “King James” again. Not that I ever did, but instead, I’m making up a nickname for him that’s tons more cooler and more descriptive to who he’s been molded to through all these events: Darth Brizzle. The Chosen One’s darker persona. Use the hate from the jeers, the articles, sports stories, blogs, Q ratings, and everywhere else to destroy all who opposed (and still do) your decision.

Darth Brizzle could be the best nickname ever if the prophecy holds true.

1/12/2011

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