On the NBA: Hating greatness

Yes, it’s true, we swim in a sea of LeBron Hate. But I’m not convinced it’s toxic in any novel way. We’ve always had this. Social media, of course, grants some transparency to many of our uglier voices. But the hot spittle of the mediocre-feeling masses is nothing to sound the alarm about, disturbing racial undertones (which are sometimes overtones) notwithstanding.

Let’s be real: no sports fan likes a dynasty. Not unless it’s her own team that is one. The notion of Carmelo Anthony joining up with LeBron and his boys to form The Four Horsemen upsets America for a multitude of reasons, but the primary one is this: I want my team to win a championship, and this development makes that unlikely. I hate these men for squashing my surrogate warriors, for taking away my chance at sharing bounties of fifth-hand pride with my city.

Some select few are candid enough to state it this way. But most of the rest are unwilling to show us their pathetic sports-loving core—they instead imbue these mens’ moves with all kinds of moralistic yammering. It’s not right, it’s weak, it’s wrong, Michael would’ve, etcetera, etcetera ad nauseam.

We err when we hand validity to this rhetoric. I’m erring, right now, by paying it any heed. Anger is rarely useful, and it’s especially rubbish-laden when it cloaks itself as righteous ideological soldiering.

And the bottom line is that this is just sports. Basketball is allowed to absorb mean energy because it barely matters. It’s “fun”; it’s a matrix for the worst in us like video games are—the correlation between the violence in hollering voices aimed at TV screens and violence that matters is something even less than that between Halo 3 gunnings and Newtown massacres. There’s certainly troubling symbolism afoot in the public’s often emotionally shaky relationship with the games they pour their attention into. But let’s not get crazy with the armchair sniping of some dudes being dudes on a couch with a keyboard.

And smashing the angry LeBron-hating hoards is more akin to hating LeBron than loving him. It is its own bloody sport. Both parties in this unfortunate discourse are jumping into the NBA as a way of waging silly conceptual battles; of proving ourselves somehow superior. As someone with the ambition to be more a lover than a fighter, I say PAH to the defenders almost as much as I do the offenders. Let’s watch without hating the players or each other. Let’s respect the dumb wind everyone throws into this pastime. Let’s have ourselves an unpolitical ball, because where else can we do so?

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Total comments: 4
  • feelingsupersonic says 2 months ago Jordan classy? Jordan as an example of character? Those ideas associated with Jordan seem far from reality to me. The Jordan I remember didn't have much class or exhibit exemplary character at all. Jordan was an asshole by many accounts including family members as well as countless teammates.

    If today's media coverage got ahold of Jordan playing in the present day he would be a villain.
  • thejohnnygold says 2 months ago

    Not true. Though I started out as a Rockets fan, I'm more a fan of the game now and I don't really have a team. I cheer for the teams that have the players I like, regardless of which city they arbitrarily happen to be playing for at the moment. I like watching competitors, beautiful, graceful basketball. Jordan with his indomitable will and sweet yet unstoppable fadeaway, Hakeem and his endless array of ballerina moves, feathery touch, and unmatched coordination. Men of physical grace, yet also class and character. I like the Spurs' exquisite motion offense (didn't care for their boring, post-heavy, slow down attack of the early to mid 90's).

    Lebron and Melo are the antithesis of that. Lebron's game is not graceful. Other than his jumper at times, neither is Melo's. Class would not be a term to describe either, more like immature and crass, and wussies for wanting to team up in ther primes. So yeah, you're painting with too broad a brush.

    I really liked your first paragraph....and then the second one happened :(

    You talk about painting with broad brushes...seemingly because you know how to do it yourself. I disagree with your assessment of LeBron and Carmelo. Cultures change. The forward pass was blasphemy for "true" football fans. Players like LeBron and Carmelo are glimpses of the future of this game--the evolution. In time, NBA courts will have 10 guys who are all, more or less, skilled the way these two are. In fact, is it not largely part of Michael Jordan's legacy that he created this shift in the NBA paradigm by being such a supremely gifted individual talent?

    Dislike them if you want for their choices, but you are de-humanizing them in my opinion. They have the right to make choices--choices that make them happy--and those choices owe nothing to us, the fans.

    Think about it. Option A: stay in Cleveland and toil away on a team full of mediocre players with the hopes that one day we will win a championship for the people. Option B: go to Miami, play with my friends, enjoy my work, and actuallywin some of those desired championships for myself.

    Is that selfish? Sure, you can call it that. Remember....LeBron doesn't owe me, you, or any other fan anything. Are they "wussies" for teaming up? Maybe....some people prefer to work smarter, not harder. I'd call 4 consecutive trips to the finals a successful merger.

    One last thought--why does Hakeem always get a free pass for "teaming up" with Drexler? Why? Because they played in college together? That doesn't change the reality of the situation. Barkley came in after that. Oh wait, Jordan did it too!!! Rodman was apparently a big part of that second cluster of championships. Wussies, all of 'em!!!

    (Before any disclaimers come in about those moves being made by the GM's and it wasn't the players doing....stop and think about it. If you're the GM of Chicago, you think you aren't going to at least consult MJ on a personnel decision? Please. Same with Dream....the man just won a championship....he was the best player in the game at the time.....you ask him first.)

  • huitlacoche says 2 months ago

    New post: On the NBA: Hating greatness
    By: John Wilmes

    The notion of Carmelo Anthony joining up with LeBron and his boys to form The Four Horsemen upsets America for a multitude of reasons, but the primary one is this: I want my team to win a championship, and this development makes that unlikely. I hate these men for squashing my surrogate warriors, for taking away my chance at sharing bounties of fifth-hand pride with my city.

    Not true. Though I started out as a Rockets fan, I'm more a fan of the game now and I don't really have a team. I cheer for the teams that have the players I like, regardless of which city they arbitrarily happen to be playing for at the moment. I like watching competitors, beautiful, graceful basketball. Jordan with his indomitable will and sweet yet unstoppable fadeaway, Hakeem and his endless array of ballerina moves, feathery touch, and unmatched coordination. Men of physical grace, yet also class and character. I like the Spurs' exquisite motion offense (didn't care for their boring, post-heavy, slow down attack of the early to mid 90's).

    Lebron and Melo are the antithesis of that. Lebron's game is not graceful. Other than his jumper at times, neither is Melo's. Class would not be a term to describe either, more like immature and crass, and wussies for wanting to team up in ther primes. So yeah, you're painting with too broad a brush.

  • cjuice28 says 2 months ago

    I've said it before in some discussion thread, but I'll share here. I think there is more of a matter of degree here than you suggest.

    I think Lebron is different. Different than Jordan, Different than Duncan, and even Different than Kobe (although maybe less so than Jordan and Duncan). His level of arrogance is unbearable. And I think its pretty noticeable. I could see myself being friends with Duncan, but with Lebron never.

    http://offthebench.nbcsports.com/2011/12/13/photog-who-shot-lebron-james-for-nike-says-lebron-showed-up-with-masseuse-would-not-allow-direct-conversation-with-him/

    http://25.media.tumblr.com/db3aba19c8c23beb526f236f667745cf/tumblr_moq60vmpwC1r0jlbgo1_1280.jpg

    There is this idea that is perpetuated among people who discuss sports, that you can't acknowledge someone's greatness while simultaneously "hating" them. In other words, if you "hate" them, then that means they're not a great player or in some way deficient on the court. That's simply false.

    I readily acknowledge Lebron is a great player- he is the best player in the NBA now, and is one of the best ever. However, I enjoy seeing him fail, because I do not like my perception of who he is as a person. So, while I may not like Kobe winning 3 straight titles, I dislike that a whole lot less, than Lebron going for 3 straight.