Let’s get two things out of the way …
- I am a Bulls fan
- I do not follow LeBron James on Twitter
That being said, mocking LeBron James because of his leg cramps needs to just stop. The primary reason it needs to stop is because it’s indicative of a very ugly society, one I (obviously) cannot abide. We crave celebrity, we demand perfection from athletes, we build people up to demi-god status, and then it seems we cannot wait to tear them down at the first opportunity. Were it simple criticism, that would be fine. But it’s not. Oftentimes, it’s personal, degrading, and downright mean.
If you must be unhappy with LeBron James’ leg cramps, then focus instead on the fact that the arena’s air conditioning went out, creating ninety-plus degree temperatures. Blame LeBron and his training staff for perhaps not recognizing the signs and hydrating him enough throughout the game. (It should be noted, however, that they had him take seven anti-cramping pills during the game.)
I contest that his leg cramps are simply one of those things that happens to athletes It cannot be helped. LeBron James has a history of leg cramps dating all the way back to high school. I challenge you to find a better conditioned athlete in the NBA. This is not a matter of being soft or weak-willed. As any athlete will tell you, when the body seizes, nothing can help but time and rest.
So why are people so eager to tear this man down?
Is it “The Decision?” Okay, that was a bad moment, a stupid moment, a moment we all wish never happened. But please take a few things into account. LeBron did not act alone in that. ESPN was more than happy to turn it into a circus, and then, ironically, led the charge in criticizing LeBron for the move. Also, LeBron has been king of the hill since the age of eighteen. He has not needed to answer to anyone. This is a man who has successfully navigated professional sports, the business world, and society’s infatuation with “celebrity” with no more than a high school diploma. Haven’t we all made bad decisions in our mid-twenties? Don’t we all have that one moment we wish we could take back. Furthermore, can many claim to come out of such calamity wiser and more mature as has LeBron James?
To be honest, I happen to believe LeBron is highly intelligent. His missteps have been few. By and large, he walks that fine line of celebrity without crossing over. By all accounts he is a wonderful teammate, a caring father, a charitable citizen, and a decent human being.
Think of all the young people who achieved his level of fame and fortune and did not crash and burn. Think of all the other young people who allowed their career to die, who became more invested in their celebrity than their craft, who drowned from various vices.
Yet, here’s LeBron James. A multiple MVP. An Olympic champion. An NBA champion. A man who has not relented in his quest to win, who has improved upon his physique and skill set with each passing year. In LeBron James we have a sports icon in the making.
Are people mad the way James, Wade, and Bosh came together? Get over it. That’s the way it is in the NBA. LeBron found that out during his tenure in Cleveland. Rose is discovering it in Chicago. Nobody hated Pierce, Garnett, and Allen for forming a triumvirate, and they did it before LeBron. Couldn’t it be argued that Jordan, Pippen, and Rodman were a similar situation? It takes three any more. Need I mention that Duncan has Parker and Ginobili as his running mates?
To be honest, we have two admirable NBA franchises vying for the trophy this year, two teams that do things the right way. Everything I just said about James I could also say about Tim Duncan on most accounts. I want the Heat to win because I love teams that stick together and continue winning, players who take less money to keep something special rolling. But the Spurs fall into that same category, so for me, this is a win-win situation. (Of course, I would be happier were the Bulls in contention, but alas …)
I sound like a LeBron James apologist, but I’m not. I do believe in defending people treated unfairly. LeBron James gives every indication of playing his ass off all the time. He clearly wants to win. He seems like a guy trying to behave and give back to family, friends, and the community. I wish we could all say the same, including me.
So stop with the Lebroning. The man had unrelenting leg cramps.