It would’ve been easy for LeBron James to retaliate against all the hate with anger and arrogance, he certainly earned it after last night. James could’ve publicly laughed at his skeptics and there wouldn’t be anything anyone could do. He didn’t, he answered questions gracefully, with such authenticity and bliss that it was hard to muster enough hate to be anything more than disappointed. The truth is, no matter how much we all hate LeBron, it’s never been for being a bad person. It was for being immature and foolish in how he executed a controversial decision. However, there are far worse things in the sports world than childish and obnoxious behavior, and we vilify those culprits far less.
The point is, LeBron has been who he’s been the whole time. He’s never going to be the Michael Jordan-storybook-buzzer-beater hero we love to watch. He plays like he’s having fun, and like he loves to watch his teammates have fun. It’s unsettling in it’s uniqueness, but these Finals didn’t just prove that his style was enough to win a championship. It proved that his true colors weren’t the self-promoting moments from “The Decision,” but rather the gracious consistency he’s demonstrated otherwise.
I’ve rooted against LeBron as hard as anybody and will continue to do so out of instinct and love for my Celtics, but after the Finals last year, LeBron responded to questions with contempt for his audience, and it was an ugly statement about his sense of entitlement. However, it was only a sound bite. LeBron proved last night that however frustrating he is and however much we hate him, he doesn’t hate us.