Sometimes, it’s as if the idiot who told LeBron James to broadcast The Decision did that a lifetime or two ago.
The decision was enough of a topic, but to broadcast it that way, it was mighty easy to dislike James a bit.
Dislike. Not hate.
Be tired of. Not hate.
Hope went ringless in Miami. Not hate.
But hating for little or no reason is nice and easy.
The word “respect” is ferociously misused in most cases and certainly in sports. All people deserve common courtesy. One earns respect.
If one is a sports fan and can’t heap a fair helping of respect, grudging or not, James’ way, then one may not be a sports fan.
Way, way too many who watch the games prefer complaining and ripping, with no chance for a change of heart and mind. The hate in the sports world is accompanied by a constant refusal to give anyone a little credit.
Sometimes it’s just stubbornness; sometimes it’s just stupidity. You don’t have to be pals with somebody to respect them. It’s not a weakness. It’s a strength.
To dismiss or just keep hating James because of The Decision -- the show and the move -- or the tattoos or the slightly wacky mom or because we’ve had him in front of us now for a dozen years -- he’s 30 now, as his hairline increasingly reminds us -- is tired and sad.
Granted, ESPN can make us dislike just about anybody by shoving a topic or person down our throats.
It’s hard, however, to ignore the best in the game, no matter who it is.
Hating for silly or insipid reasons sure can detract from the pure enjoyment something can bring.
And there’s some joy in what we’re watching.
James isn’t as smooth as Michael Jordan, but he does have less baggage.
He lacks the magnetism of Magic Johnson but can do more on the court.
He’s not as explosive as Kobe Bryant but is more versatile.
His shot isn’t as smooth as George Gervin or certainly the current MVP, but he scores despite being the clear go-to guy.
He bears little resemblance on defense as the glove-like Gary Payton and lacks the court vision of John Stockton.
James is probably third at best on the list of any particular skill, and folks love making lists.
But he’s sure making a name for himself in the top three of any list of gamers.
The arguments to name a single best ever in anything can be time-wasters and moot. There’s a more lucid discussion to be made about, say, your starting five, your team.
And considering there are probably 40 legitimate candidates for the 15 members of a team, James sure is coming mighty close to cementing a starting spot (with Jordan, Bryant, Magic and Wilt Chamberlain).
James can be smooth or a grinder. He can bury 29-footers or slash through and posterize somebody. His passes are more intelligent than flashy.
As it turns out, James is becoming one of the best -- and most underrated -- leaders the NBA has seen.
Folks need to grasp that.
James lost favor with millions after the decision and then with Miami failing to dominate as predicted.
He earned some general brownie points by returning to Cleveland, but what he has done this year certainly has converted some from disliking to liking, if not to downright fans.
I now find myself pulling for Cleveland, more the city than James. But I’m kind of pulling for James, too. It’s nice when work ethic pays off.
James has grown as a player and a person, one with whom you could have a better -- and more broad -- conversation than you think. Plus, he has been a good citizen.
And look at what he’s doing with nowhere near the supporting cast of a typical NBA Finals team, and the Cavs have the series lead.
Kyrie Irving was a name sidekick, albeit one who is in only his fourth season. After that?
Had there not been an overflow of paranoia from the conference finals, few would know about Matthew Dellavedova. Some folks around here remember Iman Shumpert at Georgia Tech, but he’s on his second team in four seasons.
And we have Timofey Mozgov, J.R. Smith and Mike Miller. Kind of makes Stacey King, Will Perdue and Craig Hodges seem imposing.
He might use personal pronouns a bit much for some, but, well, he is the best in the game, and he’s more than proving it again.
We started this figuring the Cavs might last five games. But look at where we are.
No question James has had help, but what he’s leading is astounding.
There’s no need to add him to the Christmas card list, but not giving him his just due is absurd.
Contact Michael A. Lough at firstname.lastname@example.org or 744-4626