In case anyone cares.
I’m taking the opposite task of Posnanski, who feels bad that he has spent so much vitriol on Lebron, and I respect Posnanski, so I’m feeling a bit on the defensive. I’m also on the defensive because the right thing to do is to forgive, forget, move on, especially knowing Lebron’s life story.
I can fuel my anger and disgust with Lebron’s blase post-game answer, about all the haters having to go back to their lives while till be rich. That answer is so ignorant of what the fans mean to him, so out-0f-touch with what he owes to the people who actually do pay his salary, if not directly. This statement alone could justify my feelings.
But come on man, my internal monologue goes on, he had a shitty childhood, not in any middle class my daddy didn’t love me enough sense, but in actuality, a mom who abandoned him, his only savior being basketball and his god-given ability. And this mother never truly leaves, with ugly vague rumors that even spread to his girlfriend popping up at the worst times. He tries control everything in his life, and the more control he tries to instill, the crazier things get, and the more he seems to withdraw, become passive and unresponsive and lacking in energy. He doesn’t fight unless he’s ahead, and I hate front-runners, without, perhaps, understanding what they are all about.
I also him for the standards he’s violated. He hand-picked his team like the NBA is the goddamn AAU, recruited (which he never did in Cleveland), picking a big brother who is older and wiser and came from a bit less chaos, a bit more stability, including three years of college. Players should not be able to pick their own teams in my vision of the NBA, and superstars should understand the importance of being a part of a team, the tradition, and not join a pseud0-family member/role model in a city that isn’t real (except for the Hispanic parts, but that’s another story).
And he picked up his own daddy, one who flashed rings at him and didn’t put together a real presentation in that dog-and-pony show bullshit last summer. I have never liked Pat Riley, with his comb-over and his relentlessly died-dark hair and his thuggish Knick teams and his Van Gundy proteges. He’s a smug bastard much like Lebron, with no built0in points of sympathy due to his upbringing. Riley is NBA royalty with no humility or self-awareness, and the fact that Lebron chose him, over even the Russian billionaire, pisses me off even more. Alpha males who seem to have earned nothing violate nearly everything I believe in.
And yet, as I write, I realize that my hatred of Lebron is for things he can’t affect, things about me and who I am. I have witnessed my teams win championships – Michigan in 1997, the Reds in the 70s and 1991, and I saw the Bengals at least go to the Super Bowl twice. I’m not stuck in the Cleveland malaise because I have rooted for champions who I grew up watching, so I’ve experienced that vicarious pleasure, and I shouldn’t need Lebron to do this for me, or for Cleveland.
What gives me this joy in hatred, then? I know that in Lebron’s mind this failure to beat Dallas is a failure, and it’s one that cannot have looked good as he looked back at the tape. Do I hope that he has discovered something about himself, and that that discovery will make him wiser, gentler, kinder, more secure in himself and not so interested in promulgating ridiculous notions of masculinity rooted in aggression and preening and fake stupidity? Am I so invested in wanting to like someone who’s a basketball player extraordinaire because I love the game and want to think that good people play it? Am I so interested in looking for someone who can dispute that narrative that will at first ignore all evidence that he’s not and then revile him when I discover the truth? In either case, this is not a comfortable scenario to be a part of.