Before we get into the meat of today’s post, let me say a couple of words in acknowledgement of the Miami Heat’s terrific championship season:
Now, read on…
It has begun. The sing-song dance of those who accused and abused the Miami Heat and Lebron James especially. Now he is “on the playing field” with Michael Jordan (according to one especially onerous talking head). Now he has the “heart of a champion”.
The firestorm of criticism and, yes, hate, this team and star player has received over the past two years is evaporating like a drop of water on a black car outside on a Florida June afternoon. The problem is, why was it there in the first place (the criticism, not the black car)?
Ever since this happened, I’ve been following this story with great dedication to the “narrative”. The vilification of Lebron James showed a horribly ugly side of human nature that seems to have escaped thenotice of the very perpetrators of that vitriol.
To recap, a 25-year old James made the decision to leave Cleveland via a “made-for-cable” public announcement on ESPN. Bad idea (though it did net two million dollars for Boys’ Clubs in Ohio). Then, the Miami Heat organization set up a local celebration that (unfortunately) went viral where James, obviously deliriously excited about his future NBA prospects, made another poor choice in voicing his excitement in a statement of silly hyperbole.
And those two things became a rallying cry for just about everyone outside of South Florida to actively root against the team and the man. That’s ok, actually, in the framework of sports. Why wouldn’t you root for your own team and be annoyed when your rival got better.
But then, in some sad upchucking of the most unpleasant parts of humanity, it went further. The narrative changed from rooting against the team and the man to demonizing them in a 24 month journey of venom and hate.
Criticize the basketball play? Fine. Point out the pieces don’t fit? Sure. Predict the experiment will fail? Go right ahead. Casting aspersions on the character and heart of the players? Excuse me? Do any of those people understand how hard it is to play the game of basketball at the professional level? No heart? The team fell two victories short of winning it all in their first season!
It doesn’t surprise me that people have a dark side; I’m not naive about the world. Still, it continues to disappoint me that a country whose dominant religion’s core value is forgiveness, so rarely employs that valuable and precious gift.
A 25-year old prodigy who went straight from high school to being a millionaire made a bad decision (from bad advisors), got excited about his new job and spent the next two years doing everything he could to be the best basketball player and teammate (and person) he could. For that, he was ridiculed, vilified and character assassinated. Without remorse or consideration. I wonder how any of us would fare if our own mistakes were put on such a nationally publicized scale?
So, let’s all try to be better people. Try out that forgiveness thing…I hear it works wonders.
Here endeth the lesson.