LeBron James and the Miami Heat lead the NBA Finals 2-1 over Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder. Through those three games James is averaging 30 points per game, 10 rebounds, four assists and almost two steals per game on 46% shooting. James has been great defensively and shut down Durant in the fourth quarter of game three. The demons that haunted James in last year’s finals against Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks seem to have been exercised. James persistence to get to the basket has also put Durant in foul trouble the past two games and Dwyane Wade seems to have found his stride again. However, despite James’ performance in clutch situations throughout the 2012 NBA playoffs, the haters continue to hate. This begs the question; will the LeBron haters continue their attack on the King if he finally wins a championship this season?
The LeBron haters have even found flaws in his performance throughout the first three games of these finals series. The loudest argument came after game two when he came in contact with Durant on his last second shot attempt. The LeBron haters blamed the referees for the Thunder loss instead of the Thunder’s seven missed free throws and bad interior defense. In the mind of a LeBron hater, when the Thunder won game one it was because of the stellar play. However, when the Heat won games two and three it because of the preferential treatment they received from the officials.
But the LeBron hate goes way beyond this finals series. For some reason adults have a hard time understanding why someone would leave Cleveland for Miami. The geographical factors are reason alone. James played his heart out for the Cleveland Cavaliers every night for seven seasons and even took them to the NBA finals while leading a team full of Tito Jacksons. The large mistake James made during his move to South Beach was having an hour-long ESPN special to make the announcement. Even though the event’s proceeds went to charity, it was an arrogant, self centered and self-serving move that disappointed NBA fans around the world. However, I have always wondered if New Yorkers would feel different about the special if James would have chosen to be a Knick, or if Cleveland fans would have felt different if he had announced he was staying with the Cavs.
It seems as if LeBron Haters might be as selfish as they accuse James of being. Unlike a lot of our favorite athletes and celebrities, James has kept his name of the tabloids and off of TMZ. James has been charitable, a seemingly model family man and has never thrown his teammates under the bus (I’m looking at you Kobe & Shaq). I could even understand LeBron hate if he was a ball hog or engaged in unsportsmanlike conduct, but neither has ever occurred. The most laughable product of LeBron hate is the way haters have painted the James vs. Durant battle as a battle between good and evil. Instead of what is really is, the two best players in the world fighting for the biggest prize in basketball.
Real NBA fans acknowledge the fact that this is a series featuring a great veteran NBA warrior who has suffered numerous playoff failures against an up and coming team with a great core on the biggest stage for the first time. My money is on the vet, but I am sure the LeBron Haters will have an excuse when he lifts the Larry O’Brien trophy (66 game season, refs, etc.).