Today: Jun 16, 2024

Sports Commentary: Rooting for LeBron James

Ryan Flynn – Sports Editor

Confetti fell as the Dallas Mavericks claimed the 2011 NBA title, and I smiled. My favorite athlete in all of sports watched as his dream was squandered, and I couldn’t have been happier. I’d watched his rise to greatness for six years in Cleveland, watched him dominate the pro game like few ever have. I also watched him come up short time and time again before uttering those eight terrible words:

“I’m gonna take my talents to South Beach.”

Like almost everyone else, I was bitter. I rooted against my idol in 2011. To this day I’m glad that he and his teammates were humbled. That they learned just how damned hard it is to clutch the O’Brien trophy.

I tried to gravitate towards a new hoops idol. Durant seemed an obvious choice. The humble sharpshooter superstar seemed like the perfect anti-LeBron. And yet, I found that I kept flipping on Heat games. I hated to admit it but from a pure aesthetic level, I just liked watching #6 more. I listed to the boos, observed the mounting hate that seem to come from all directions. Talking heads and fans alike doubted, dismissed and even loathed James.

To me, it became irresistible.

Do I like the way he left Cleveland, or the preseason parade that followed? Of course not. But the man has paid his dues. He took the next logical step and spent much more time on the low block. He guarded point guards this past year, and wings and even centers. And he learned once more to embrace the moment and step up in the clutch.

Game six in Boston seemed like an out-of-body experience. Game five against OKC, a clinic in all phases of the game. At some point it stops being about the storylines off the court and more about the greatness that is happening on it.

Root for whoever you want, but don’t dare turn your eyes away from James. We’ve watched the most scrutinized athlete, maybe ever, rise to greatness and lose his way, only to find the perfect balance in his game and reach the pinnacle.

Now, with the season just weeks away, we’re about to see the King finally play without the monkey on his back. He’s got his championship; he’s silenced his doubters.

Now, we get to Witness his prime.

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