This is more of a rant post but it brings up an interesting storyline that I'm noticing as of late. Seeing that we're on the brink of a game tonight that can very well start to write the next chapter in the story of Lebron James, I think it's apt to have some perspective on what's happened in almost a whole calendar year and what the true perceptions should be moving forward.
The Decision and the Backlash
It isn't necessary to go back through every detail. We all know what took place July 8th of 2010 and how it captured the imagination and attention of a country changed the landscape of the NBA for years to come. Yes it was handled terribly wrong but Lebron made a personal decision that he had a right to make. He played for 7 years in Cleveland and he earned the right as a FA to do what he felt was best for his career and as of now it's looking like he made the correct decision. The initial reaction to the Lebron James decision was one of ridicule. Here's a guy that abandoned a team that had back to back 60+ win seasons to go get himself a ring. That was the perception at the time. Whether it was HOFers like MJ or Barkley or media around the globe, the consensus was disappointment in Lebron's decision and how he handled it.
The Backlash to the Backlash
With that being said, a funny thing has happened. Lebron James is now a victim. Whether it's ESPN which admittedly has a dog in the fight or local media as of late, you often here these types of sentiments... "This poor guy can't win for losing. Everyone's just jealous and if he was on your team no one would be bitching" or "How could you blame the guy for leaving Cleveland. He was all they had and it was a miracle they got that far" or "He doesn't have to be a closer in Miami because he's facilitating and getting others involved while playing great defense. The guys a freak" and my personal favorite.."MJ never had a guy who could do what Wade could do so why hate on Lebron for doing the dirty work while Wade flourishes? He's just doing what winners have to do" Now we even got Scottie Pippen saying he's better than MJ. See how revisionist history works?
The true Perception...(well In my humble opinion)
Yes I'm a Bulls fan and if Lebron chose to come here instead of Miami I would've been elated like many of us here but that's not what this is about. It's not about being jealous of Lebron or being a hater because the Heat beat the Bulls. It's not about him making the decision to leave Cleveland. It's about what Lebron told us he was. He chose to call himself "King James". He's the one that told us to "Witness". His detractors are just holding him to his own standards while others are being apologists that want him to have it both ways. For example, I find it amazing that a guy that has played as well as an average night from Luol Deng in these Finals can be looked at as displaying the type of greatness usually shown by Magic, Bird, and MJ.
Look this guy is a great player but he forfeited the right to walk with immortals when he left a winning team to hitch his wagon to 3/5ths of an All-Star team in Miami. He's Robin, he's Pippen and there's no shame in that. I just think others should allow him to own it and quit acting like we're not watching the same game. We all watched Scottie so we all know how this works. Scottie was still great and is still a HOFer but he's no MJ. Why? Because those type of accolades are reserved for those that display that unique gene. The ones that do it when it matters the most and that's the gene Wade is displaying in these finals. There's a difference and more people should acknowledge it. Fans who feel like he's playing his rightful role as a sidekick reserve that right. Not Jeff Van Gundy or Mark Jackson who are condescending to the thought of Lebron being a sidekick. If Lebron wins a ring while Wade is looking like 2006 Wade and winning Finals MVP then Lebron will be perceived the way he should be...as a guy that knew his limitations and played his role as the sidekick in order to win a ring. Because despite what the media says, being a 6'9 and 260 pounds freak of nature does not give you a guaranteed perception of greatness. Being great does.