You are hated like never before. For the first time in your life, people are criticizing you. Old fans have transformed into haters, and your old home has transformed into enemy territory.
Of course, you don’t understand it. You have never been at fault for anything in your life, so why would that change now? Haters will be haters. Cleveland will be Cleveland. It doesn’t matter if people like you right now. They will all come back, as long as you win your rings…right?
Well, the charade is over.
Nobody cares about your “Decision,” or your new friends. None of that matters anymore. South Beach or NYC. Cleveland or the City of Angels. Wherever. Now, you are free to be the greatest. Now, you are free to fill Tiger’s void and be our Global Icon. Now you are free to run back to your haven: The basketball court. The only place that you can be free. The one place on earth where you are still the Alpha Dog.
Unfortunately for you, the charade is not the only thing that’s over; the façade has fallen too. Now we can see you for what you are: the greatest myth in professional sports.
Oh sure, you are the greatest athlete that has ever lived. Period. You are the most breathtaking physical specimen that we have ever seen.
I will never forget that first night in Sac-Town. The way you glided all over the court. Your infectious smile and personality. The joyful way you “deferred” to your teammates on fast breaks.
The “48-Special” against Detroit.
“The Tomahawk Dunk” against Boston.
“The Shot 2.0” against Orlando.
They all speak for themselves.
But then there was “The Quit,” “The Elbow,” or “The Choke.” No matter what you call it, we saw your true colors. We know who you are.
You are someone who REFUSES to work on his game.
27 and 77. No, those aren’t your career highs, those are your shooting percentages from long range and from the charity stripe. And no, you no longer have any excuses. You made a “man’s decision” this summer, it’s time to man up.
You’ve been in the league for eight years now. From day one, you had one weakness: shooting. Eight years later, you still have one weakness: shooting.
I don’t remember Jordan having a weakness in Year 8. Kobe didn’t have one either. Come to think of it, does Kevin Durant even have any offensive weaknesses TODAY? In year 4? What’s your excuse?
Too busy working on your brand? You threw that away that this summer.
Too busy working on defense? Only when Coach K made you.
Too busy hosting “hate-days” on Twitter? Too busy reading a script written out for you by Nike?
No, you were too busy trying to get us believe a lie. “You were still only 25.” “You WERE shooting better.” “Your team was bad.”
Blah blah blah. While you were busy giving us excuses, your rivals were busy getting better. While you worked on your brand, you threw away a chance at multiple rings.
While you focused on you, you neglected your team. We see what you are.
You are someone that never made your teammates better.
In fact, not only did you not make your teammates better, you actually crippled them. Too bad for you that we have a good example now. We KNOW what a player that makes his team better looks like.
Durant get his points IN THE FLOW of a game. He doesn’t constantly have to have the ball at all times. He let Russell Westbrook make mistakes the last two years. They worked together. They figured each other out. They let each other earn their chops. And now? They are better than either of them would have been without the other. Oh sure, Larry, Curly (Varejao), and Mo may have scored more with you on the court.
Congratulations, you made them more EFFICIENT. But come on. That was easy for you. It didn’t take any work at all.
Stop hiding behind your stats. They don’t fool me anymore. I don’t care how many assists you average a game, as that doesn’t make you unselfish.
Stephon Marbury averaged eight assists a game during his career. You are one and the same to me. You may pass the ball to wide open players when you are double-teamed with three seconds left on the shot clock, but you don’t FIND people. You don’t go out of your way to get your guy the ball. You don’t have the point guard gene.
But that’s okay, we never wanted you to be Magic. We wanted you to be LeBron. We wanted to see you average 35 points a game. We wanted to see you go for the throat. We wanted to see you be the greatest assassin that ever played the game.
But you hid behind your personality. Now it’s disintegrated, and we see what you have done.
You are someone who has coasted on his own talent.
Ok, so you aren’t wired like Jordan. That’s fine. You aren’t even wired like Kobe. Cool. But do you even care?
In seven years, your outside shooting improved by 4%. This year, it’s worse than it’s ever been – including your rookie year. Every day, you are showing us what a phony you really are.
Go ahead and make fun of it. Ask me, “Should I care about my legacy?” Speculate whether or not you should just disappear. You’re right. You aren’t required to be what we want you to be.
That tells me everything I need to know about you as a person. Again, it’s all about you. YOUR legacy. YOUR friends. YOUR talents.
But you are getting paid…very well…to do what? Play basketball. Basketball is your job. I understand that you would never push yourself past where you would need to go to improve, but can’t you take enough responsibility in your craft to even try?
If your agent told you that he was already best agent in America, so he didn’t need to work any harder to make you money, would you fire him?
If your trainer told you he that already knew everything there was to know and he didn’t care about any new treatments for your injuries, would you respect him?
So why should I appreciate you?
Why should I even respect you?
What have you ever accomplished? Wow, you were born with more athleticism than anyone else in history. The list ends there. Now, we see you for what you really are.
You are a failure.
It’s the whole Catch-22 about sports. Is success determined by winning or is it more than that? Well, to most people it’s all about winning. You, of all people, had better hope that success is determined by more tha that.
Seven years in Cleveland…No rings.
By your own admission, sports are about more than that. The way sports are set up, the better team is SUPPOSED to win. A lot of times, the best player IS on the losing team.
If winning was the ONLY thing that indicated success, then 29 teams would be a failure every single year.
Do the Sacramento Kings have any chance of winning a title this year? How about the Pistons, or the Raptors, or the Pacers? So are they automatically failures? Should they just quit? No, for a lot of people, success is about fulfilling your potential.
As cheesy at it sounds, sometimes success is determined by getting as far as physically possible. That’s what you should be hanging your hat on. If you could make us say, “He did all he could…” you would still hold a semblance of dignity.
But right now, the epithet on your career’s tombstone, reads as follows:
“Had what it took to be the GOAT. Nearly broke the Top Ten.”
What a letdown. What an unbelievable tragedy.
I know. YOU don’t care. YOU had fun. YOU were as good as YOU wanted to be. YOU, YOU, YOU.
And you’re right. It DOESN’T matter what we wanted you to be. You DON’T owe us anything.
But let me return the favor and give you nothing in return.
Not my affection, not my admiration, not even my respect.
I’ll save that for the guys that DID want something more. I’ll save it for the thousands of lesser players that actually fulfilled their limited potential.
Michael Jordan once said, “Let your game speak.”
Yours does, LeBron. It speaks volumes.
A Disappointed Fan