Obviously the big news in the world of sports right now is the Miami Heat and LeBron James capturing the NBA title.
The road to winning his first championship has been rough for James. Before taking his “talents to South Beach,” LeBron was a basketball prodigy in Akron, Ohio, where the St. Vincent-St. Mary High School games were televised nationally, and was taken first overall in the 2003 draft by nearby Cleveland.
His time as a Cavalier was worth all the hype and proved that he was one of the best in the game. He was the recipient of three league MVP awards, four All-Defensive team selections, Rookie of the Year honors and took Cleveland to the 2007 NBA Finals. He was beloved nationally, but more importantly, in Ohio.
He was billed as the hometown kid who not only rebuilt a fledgling basketball organization, but an entire city and region of the country that severely needed help. Then, following the 2010 season, he became a free agent and caused a frenzy during the 2011 draft.
At this point we all know about the hour-long televised debacle that was known as “The Decision” in July of 2010. It was that night that LeBron broke the hearts of fans in Cleveland after announcing that he would sign with the Miami Heat. To make matters worse, the Heat celebrated their free agency signings of James and Chris Bosh with pointless and over-the-top festivities shortly after “The Decision”. It was there that LeBron announced that the team would win seven championships.
Overnight LeBron James became one of the most hated athletes currently playing. And, he seemed to embrace it a bit during his first season in Miami. When the Heat reached the finals last season there were a lot of fans rooting against the highly publicized and hyped team; needless to say, many were pleased when they lost to Dallas.
Still, you would think that that would be enough to satisfy people’s hatred of James. But, even as of February of 2012 he was ranked 6th in a survey of the Top 10 Most Disliked Athletes in Sports. This was a list that contained far more questionable athletes, for both on-field and off-field issues, than LeBron. We’re talking about guys like Kurt Busch, A-Rod, TO, Kobe, Kris Humphries, Ndamukong Suh, Tiger Woods, and Michael Vick.
So, the big question today is: will James be vindicated or hated even more following his first NBA championship?
LeBron had a fantastic season, but he really stepped it up during the finals. OK, he was in beast mode. Following a triple-double of 26 points, 11 rebounds, and 13 assists to help the Heat win a 121-106 game for a 4-1 series victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder, it wasn’t a surprise that he was named the series MVP.
Even after the game LeBron said all the right things. He didn’t rub the victory in anyone’s face and was obviously just thrilled that he is now an NBA champion. He could have been petty, but instead he was classy.
As more time passes since his publicly ill-advised departure from Cleveland, will the victory and his on-court performance this season be enough to turn people’s opinions around?
Personally, LeBron seems like a nice enough guy that hasn’t really done anything awful outside of the game, unlike Kobe or Tiger Woods, and is undoubtedly one of, if not the best, player in the NBA. He just received some bad PR advice in the past. Maybe with this so-called monkey off his back, he can go back to being just a great basketball player and role model. And, that should be enough to remove him from any most-disliked athletes lists in the near future.
However, that’s just our opinion. What do you sports fans think? Is LeBron vindicated or will the Heat’s victory make him even more hated?
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