LeBron can help the Cleveland Cavs win, but struggling to win off the court

Lebron haterIs it just me, but doesn’t it almost seem as the mere mention of LeBron James’ name is as divisive as the hated-or-loved Kobe Bryant?

Lebron is probably the best basketball player in the world, but the King can’t catch a break. Even after turning a Cleveland team from a pretender to a contender (in the East, at least), coming up big in big games, and now even tying Michael Jordan for playoff game winners just serves to incite the haters to come out of the woodwork.

The guy can’t win — why do people hate on LeBron when he does so many good things on the court? When you’re as good as LeBron James is, you’re going to have haters, but the problem isn’t James’ on-court performance, unfortunately, James is still trying to live down a universally-panned ESPN TV special from 2010. Lebron still eats up the betting stats, and people must be making a killing on him yet, the haters remain. He is the most bet on NBA player in history with millions bet on him each season. (Source: http://www.bonuswire.com)

Yep, we’re talking about his admittedly poor decision to announce that he would be “taking his talents to South Beach” on national television. It turned even the most neutral fans against LeBron.

“If I could look back on it I would probably change a lot of it,” said James. “The fact of having a whole TV special, and people getting the opportunity to watch me make a decision on where I wanted to play, I probably would change that. Because I can now look and see if the shoe was on the other foot and I was a fan, and I was very passionate about one player, and he decided to leave, I would be upset too about the way he handled it.”

I was one of those neutral fans, if anything I had positive impressions of Lebron prior to 2010’s Decision. However after the TV Special (that I didn’t watch), it left a bad taste in my mouth for a couple years. It reeked of self-involvement and a complete lack of self-awareness.

Since then, LeBron has become a lot more self-aware and has handled himself with respect. As a strict basketball fan, I can’t help but marvel at his combination of extraordinary skills, size, strength and speed. But I have no allegiance or connection to either Cleveland or Miami.

(It’s funny to see those same fans that burned The King’s jersey in response are the same ones defending him from trolls from Miami)

In short, The Decision was a great one in that LeBron was forced to mature. Could he have taken a different route? Yes, but he made a mistake, a huge, public one at that, and learned from it. What else can we ask from him? It’s not like he smokes, drives drunk and bets his paycheck on sports (click here for a complete listing).

LeBron Harden

“Last year after Game 6 (of the 2011 Finals), after losing once again, I was very frustrated,” LeBron said. “I was very hurt that I let my teammates down, and I was very immature. I played to prove people wrong instead of just playing my game, instead of just going out and having fun and playing a game that I grew up loving and why I fell in love with the game.”

Even so, when you grow up with a camera following your every move, facial expression and thought as Lebron James has since high school, it will capture the glory… but also the mistakes.

LeBron may seem infallible on the court, but James is a human being; a 6-8 powerhouse of a basketball playing human being, but one that is as prone to missteps as any regular person.

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