Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sports Myths: We all Hate Lebron

Let's take a trip back to 2003, which was Lebron James'(and my) senior year of High School.  James was celebrated like no amateur athlete ever was.  His games became pay-per-view events in the state of Ohio, and a few of his games were even televised on ESPN.  The kid had it all:  an NBA ready body, good looks, and the charisma to match.  He was viewed as the heir-apparent to Michael Jordan.

The Cleveland Cavaliers had the first pick in the 2003 draft, and naturally his hometown Cavs would select him number 1 overall.  The hopes and dreams of long-suffering Cleveland fans were placed squarely on his broad, eighteen-year-old shoulders.  Cleveland had their homegrown hero, who was ready to place the Cavs on the top of the basketball mountain.

James was a beast right out of the gate for Cleveland, winning Rookie of the Year, and averaging nearly 21 points, 5 rebounds, and 6 assists.  Cleveland finally arrived as an elite team in the 2006-2007 season, as James carried the Cavaliers through the playoffs.  James put up one of the greatest performances in the history of the NBA in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals, scoring his team's last 25 points, in a double-overtime win over Detroit.    The upstart Cavaliers however, were swept by the grizzled San Antonio Spurs, and the Cavs went back to the drawing board.

The last two seasons were successful for the Cavs, in the regular season anyway.  They won 66 games in the 08-09 season, and 61 in the 09-10 season, but they could never win that elusive championship.  Lebron's impending free agent status left Cavs fans all across Ohio wondering if the "global icon," would stay home, or chase his championship aspirations in a larger market.

The Cavaliers had one advantage, in that they could offer him the most money, due to the way the salary cap of the NBA is structured.  Plus, Lebron could stay in Ohio, and enjoy the comforts of home, and try to chase a championship for the longest suffering fans in all of professional sports. 

Then "The Decision" night came.  The elaborate spectacle that James, ESPN, and his entourage put together, in which James would conduct interviews, and the special would be capped off with James making the decision of where he would play for the foreseeable future.  Fans of perspective teams like the Heat, Bulls, and Knicks waited with great anticipation, Cavaliers fans watched with great trepidation.  James then uttered those now famous words, "I'm taking my talents to South Beach, and I'm playing for the Miami Heat."

Cavaliers fans stood in disbelief.  Their hometown hero spurned them for the hotter girl, and broke the hearts of an entire city.  The entire nation got to bear witness to the greatest athlete in the city's history spit in all of their collective faces.  The city turned from despair, to anger as fans ripped off their #23 jerseys, and burned them into the Earth.  Sports-talk radio was filled with blood-thirsty fan, ready to denounce James for his treason.  The wound was opened wider with James' proclamation that the Heat would win 8 championships with new superstars Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh.


The venom directed towards James was universal.  Everyone from regular fans, to sportswriters, even current players hated James for his shameless self-promotion.  A poll conducted by the Q scores company, ranked Lebron as the #6 hated athlete in all of America.  Clearly, that would suggest that James is completely hated all around America.  However, many different factors point that the hate for James is not shared by all, or even many.

James received over 2 million votes for the upcoming All-Star game, and was elected a starter.  What this tells me, is that basketball fans are still enthralled with the King.  Judging upon their attendance, we have learned the the city of Miami has a pretty apathetic fanbase, so we can rule out Heat fans stuffing the ballet box.  We also know that objective basketball fans are not the ones voting for the starters, since an injured Yao Ming is starting at center for the Western Conference.

Lebron's #6 Heat jersey is one of the top sellers in all the NBA, with popular players like Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard.  I am pretty sure that disgruntled Cavs fans are not buying box fulls of Lebron jerseys, simply to burn them.  They can hit up the clearance section at Ross, and burn his old Cavs jerseys.

The bottom line, here is that fans don't hate Lebron.  We all know that the world of fairweather fans is quite large.  Idiots hit up jersey shops every day, buying up Lebron and Kobe jerseys, simply because they are great players.  People can say they hate Lebron, but the facts do not back that up.  Lebron is just as popular as ever.

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