- “People just don’t understand him.”
- “He’s under a lot of pressure.”
- “He may not show it, but he really does care.”
- “He’s got so much potential, he just needs time to find himself.”
- “It’s going to be different this time.”
(Did you enjoy this article? Check out Scott William Foley’s short stories HERE!)
I’m a big Bears fan. I’m almost embarrassed to admit how much I look forward to the NFL season, and I count the days until my Bears play. Today encompassed much of my emotions concerning the Bears during the last twenty years or so.
They looked great today. They looked terrible today. To make matters worse, they lost on their home field to a team that is generally not considered a formidable opponent.
Did I get upset? Sure, I did. What sports fan wouldn’t? However, during a brief car ride today, I heard the local sports personalities bashing the Bears to no end. (I should note that I live two hours south of Chicago.) They next played the Jay Cutler post-game media session. Jay got a little lippy with them, no doubt. But at the same time, the reporters asked him antagonizing, leading questions. After the fifth or sixth one, he started going into what people call his smart-ass mode. I can’t say I blame the guy. They lost. He threw interceptions. They had bad penalties. They’ll try to do better the next time. What more is there to say?
After his press conference the host of the show I listened to starting mocking Cutler, laughing at him, and generally tearing Cutler apart. This is part of why I don’t often listen to sports radio anymore. Like any other media outlet, it’s all about sensation and getting the ratings. When the Bears are up, the local media adores them. When they are down, the media is on them like a pack of wolves. And it’s all because that’s what the viewer and/or listener wants.
I don’t want to sound overly ra-ra-ra!, but that little bit on the radio helped put the game in perspective for me. I don’t believe any of the Bears actively tried to lose that game, and I certainly don’t believe they deserved the tongue-lashing the local media dished out during the ten minutes I rode in my car.
I’m a Bears fan. I root for the Bears. Maybe they win, maybe they lose, and that’s part of competitive sports. I’m looking forward to next week, the rest of the season, and while I hope for the best, nothing should stop me from enjoying watching my team play.
You probably know that I’m first and foremost a Bulls fan. It’s been a tough couple of years, but I think we are finally on the upswing and ready to seriously compete. But as good as my Bulls are, I can’t deny the Cavaliers are going to be extremely good, especially with the impending acquisition of Kevin Love.
That’s a matter of debate.
I heard on ESPN today that Vegas is placing the Cavaliers as three-to-one favorites to win the whole enchilada next season. Wha-huh? Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, guys.
Yeah, LeBron James is the best basketball player in the entire world – no doubt. Yes, the Cavaliers look great and if they get Ray Allen to join they are only getting better. But you cannot discount the Bulls, and you certainly can’t ignore the eternal phenomena known as the San Antonio Spurs. The Trailblazers, the Warriors, and the Clippers could also go all the way if they get hot. Heck, I’ll be honest, I think the Heat have even recovered from James’ exit pretty well.
Yes, Kevin Love is fantastic and I’m glad he’s going to get a chance to play for a team trying to win immediately. But, as Miami’s big three can tell you from their first year, there’s something called chemistry that must come into play. Irving, James, and Love have never played together on the same floor at the same time as far as I know. They each excel at their position, they each spread the court, and they each do their own unique thing that shouldn’t trample on the others’ egos, but I think they’ll still need a year to build that elusive chemistry.
So, let’s take a breath and slow that championship talk down. What’s going on with the Cavaliers is wonderful for the league, for the players involved, and especially for the community, but I think we need to avoid getting caught up in the moment. Will they escape the East? Yeah, I can see that. But can they beat the West? Right now I’m inclined to say no, but we’ll have to wait and see the guys actually play together before we can know for sure.
Wait and see … that’s not a popular concept among people who talk sports, is it?
You know I love my Billy Shakespeare, and as he told us in The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet, “Love moderately.”
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.