In Defense of LeBron James

June 16th, 2011 | by K.Malphurs

[Never gets old. via @bigeeej2]

Not that the world needs another article about LeBron James, but let me add my thoughts to the mix. First off, know that I don’t now, and never really have, hated the Miami Heat. I cheered for the Mavericks in the Finals, not because they were playing the Heat, but because I enjoyed watching their style of play. The Mavericks deserve massive amounts of praise for their ability throughout the entire playoff series. They deserved the title and more than a few words will and should be written about their team. However, in this space I want to write about LeBron.

I can’t get past the amount of criticism that LeBron has taken after this Finals. People have forgotten his outstanding play against Boston and Chicago. They don’t care that his advanced playoff stats show that he had more Win Shares than Wade or Bosh. He played poorly in the Finals, but how much of that should be attributed to him “choking” and how much of that is just plain poor luck? He played above his level against Chicago and below his level against Dallas. Maybe he was worn down, maybe he wasn’t clutch, but it seems clear the greatest crime committed by LeBron James was just being human.

We’ve witnessed the humanization of great stars before. Michael Jordan was an egomaniac with an incredible game and even better understanding of marketing. Those two skills helped convince the world that he was a great guy, and someone people should emulate. He was machiavellian and his single-minded desire to win at any cost bordered on sociopathic. In reality nobody really wants their child to “be like Mike.”

However, LeBron James isn’t like Michael Jordan. He isn’t now, and he probably will never be. The personality, the work ethic, the body type, the teammates – everything is different. Given similar circumstances and fame from an early age, I can’t say I wouldn’t be calling myself the Chosen One either. Or King Malphurs. If I were dominant in the NBA before I was legally able to drink, then I might also skip working out in the offseason on my jumper. If I were surrounded by a terrible collection of talent in Cleveland, then I also might have left to join my friends in Miami. If I felt that everybody who surrounded me was just using me for money, then I also might just make my closest friends my business partners.

LeBron James has done some really dumb things. The Decision and the Miami Heat introduction party were both terrible ideas. Also, he’s stuck his foot in his mouth a couple of times with quotes that didn’t come from the Bull Durham set of clichés. The real result of all the wrong moves LeBron has made? More proof that he is human. Despite the attempted deification by his Nike marketing campaign, James makes mistakes the same way the rest of us make mistakes. But most of us have the advantage of not having those mistakes replayed 100 times.

So what should he do? I hope he learns some humility, rather than fully embracing the heel role like he seems poised to do. Michael Rosenberg of cnnsi.com wrote about it in this article, and I agree with him. I don’t blame LeBron for not having much humility before this season. He was a spoiled athlete in a world full of them. However, now is the time for LeBron to show his humanity. Show some humility. Show some respect. Show some intelligence. I can only hope we’ll do the same as fans.

K.Malphurs

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5 Comments

  1. Jon says:

    Jordan’s response owned LeBron all to pieces. “Maybe I destroyed the game, or maybe you’re just making excuses.”

    Why is an ostensibly Utah-themed blog defending the biggest threat to the small market business model in the past decade anyway? If truehoop wants this blog to be more than dead space, you guys should get in touch with the Jazz fan base and speak to them. We’re more interested in discussing things like Kanter, Fredette, Knight, Walker, and the like than we are LeBron.

  2. J says:

    I agree with Jon. This article read like it was written for a different audience, or maybe we just need different bloggers. Regardless, I’m expecting better in the future. And just in case you have ran out of ideas for future articles (which seems obvious since this is the only article we’ve seen in weeks) I’m going to give you a few topics.

    1. Why the Jazz should NOT draft Jimmer

    2. Drafting outside the box

    3. News of current players off-season workouts

    4. Keys to Corbin’s success

    5. Assistant Coach wishlist

    6. The 3 Jazz draft workouts (including Kemba vs. Jimmer, and why Knights wasn’t there)

    7. How the CBA will impact you

    8. Interview with an Owner (who is Greg Miller?)

    Now that’s just a small sample of possible topics. How many bloggers write for this site anyways? I can think of at least three, and if not one of you can think of a subject to write four or five paragraphs so that we can read them and critique them as if we were your sophomore lit professor than maybe, just maybe, you’re in the wrong line of work.

    Look, I know we’re a small market team, and maybe you think you have better things to do, but don’t act like you’re one of us and then show up a few weeks later with this shite. Written apology and make-up article expected, if not than shut it down and move on.

  3. SurlyMae says:

    On the same line as Jon & J, I don’t want to read about LeBaby on a blog whose slogan is ‘Only the finest in news & opinion on the Utah Jazz.’ The Hitler thing was funny as always, and you almost convinced me to look at the situation differently, but I’m smart enough that if I actually did want to read about that fool, I’d know where to look.
    I want more postings, more often, from the great writers I’ve read here. C’mon now! When I first found this blog I was impressed enough that this site is now one of seven (& one of three related to the Jazz) that automatically opens when I launch my browser. I expect better and you can do better.

  4. Jeff says:

    I wanted to open up a comment box just to ask why we haven’t heard much from a blog that has it’s link to ESPN? Then I read the three previous comments echoing what I had thought. As a legitimate blogging website I expect the Lebron story to be a side dish on the spread of delicious meals you’ve produced concerning the Utah Jazz, their prospects, and any happenings with the current men in a Jazz uniform.
    Sorry for the hungry Jazz fan complaints.

  5. Lee says:

    You know who else was completely human? Greg Ostertag. Same goes for at least 75 percent of the players drafted every year. It is the other 10 to 25 percent who end up having decent careers, and usually because they are disciplined enough to not give into being “human.”

    I don’t think LeBron James is lazy — I’m sure he puts some time in — but the he’s-just-human defense is weaker than James’ fortitude during the biggest of moments.

    For the record, I’m fine with a Jazz blog not always talking about the Utah Jazz.

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