Well, as we all know, Lebron James and the Miami Heat finally won the NBA title. This was supposed to be their 2nd in what was supposed to “7″ titles. However, it was their first. What changes with this championship other than me no longer being able to wear my “RINGLESS” shirt to mock Lebron? Well, for starters, my view on Lebron is changing.
For the past 2 years, I have considered myself a true “Lebron Hater”. There are several reasons for this. To start with, while I was not necessarily a “Lebron fan” when he was in Cleveland, I loved the story. A hometown kid gets drafted by his hometown team and takes them to heights that they had never reached in their history and he did it virtually by himself (or at least as close as anyone has come). It was a great story for a league that needed a great story.
Then came “The Decision”!! My issue was never that he left Cleveland. It was how he left Cleveland. Not that he “colluded” with D-Wade and Bosh either. You cannot tell me that in today’s NBA, players aren’t talking to each other all of the time about ways to get together and play on the same team. Lebron, Wade and Bosh just did it relatively publicly. The problem was that he did it in a way that made it look like he thought he was bigger than the game. In hindsight, it becomes a bit hard to blame him because he was treated like he was bigger than the game.
Following “The Decision” came “The Party” when those “3 Kings” were acting as if the very fact that they decided to play together meant that winning championships would come easy. We all remember “Not 1, Not 2, Not 3……etc.”
Just when we thought Lebron couldn’t possibly make himself look any worse, he showed us how wrong we were. From the comments about the rest of us having to go back to our lives while he went on with his great life, having video of a college kid dunking on him taken away from the person who shot it and all the way to he and D-Wade making fun of Dirk Nowitzki being sick during last years finals made Lebron into the the ultimate villain. He was making Allen Iverson’s “We talkin’ ’bout practice” rant look like the good ol’ days. He was even blamed for changing D-Wade from a beloved and respected player to a villain.
So why am I changing my view on Lebron? Is it that he finally won a championship? In a word…..No!!
Then what it is?
Remember the third paragraph of this article when I said my issue was with how he left Cleveland? Well, my change in how I view Lebron is about how he won the championship. He did it with class and with that “assassin” mentality that we all appreciated in past winners of multiple championships like Magic, Bird, Michael and Kobe. Gone was the grandstanding and celebrating. Gone was the bragging. Gone were the “crunch-time” disappearances and “deferring” to D-Wade.
This time, Lebron did not tell usthat he is the best player in the game, he showed us that he is the best player in the game and he did it with a humility and class that we have not seen from him previously.
He was the closer that we have been expecting him to be. Was he perfect in the 4th quarters of the finals? No, he missed some free throws, he missed some shots. But, he was aggressive, he made plays on both ends of the floor, he found the open man and because he was finally taking those big shots in the big moments because he wanted to rather than because he had to, he was hitting most of them. That 3 that he hit when he was fighting leg cramps (and we were all thinking “Here he goes again. Ducking out under pressure”) was the series clincher.
Beyond his play, was also his attitude. He showed a class, grace and humility in winning that he never showed in losing. In interviews he owned his past mistakes, even referring to himself as immature. After winning the title, he could have easily stood up and said “I told you so”, but he didn’t.
If the Lebron that we saw in the finals, is the “new Lebron” that we will see from now until the end of his career, then I suspect that many will go from “Lebron haters” to respecting him to maybe even “Lebron fans”. Lebron is finally a champion because he figured it out and started acting like a champion.
Of course, if he gets his championship ring fitted for his middle finger as a Miami Heat beat writer suggested, then you can forget all of the above!!