Note: Before writing this, I became aware of Greg Cote’s column on the same theme but immediately stopped reading after a paragraph, realizing he somehow STOLE this idea from my brain, despite publishing it about 24 hours earlier.
Full disclosure: I’m a born-and-bred Miamian, and have been a Miami Heat fan for life. Less than 36 hours from Game 7 taking over our Sunday night, I have an admission: I’ve been infected by LeBron James‘ greatness.
Despite rooting for Steph Curry and the Warriors to this point, even betting on them with a friend, a bet we’ve since rescinded, my rooting interest has radically shifted. Take me back to 2014, because I’m rooting hard for the King again.
LeBron’s greatness has been permeating through my soul for a while now. It strikes upon his every impact play on both ends, for which I’ve lost count. Whether it’s an epic chase-down block — there’s been no one better in that regard — or flying down the court like the All-Pro wideout he could’ve been while exemplifying his speed-power concoction with a dynamic soul-crushing alley oop, I’ve decided to say, uncle.
Open your loins, LeBron James Fan Club. I want back in.
This is not to say I’m now a Cleveland Cavaliers fan because a whale-sized chunk of that organization remains as likable as Donald Trump in Mexico City. Also, Dan Gilbert is a clown. You can root for LeBron and not directly root for the Cavs. I’m rooting for greatness and nobody has more of it than number 23.
With the Heat out two rounds ago, the hoops junkie within is craving the best possible ending, one that involves a 3-1 series comeback led by LeBron strapping a bunch of saps to his seemingly robotic frame and dragging them to championship glory.
Miamians should cleanse away their bitter feelings toward the king. It doesn’t make you a lesser Heat fan. It doesn’t make you a flip-flopper. It does make you a basketball fan. It does feel good. And this is coming from someone who once advocated for the booing of James every time he touched the ball this season in Miami.
Fighting against greatness is exhausting. Just ask Draymond Green.
Draymond has 3 seconds to get out, goes early, to weakside, brilliant pass by LeBron. https://t.co/RTxGIagttB
— BBALLBREAKDOWN (@bballbreakdown) June 17, 2016
What do you strive for when going to see a movie? The best and most entertaining film possible, right? You want your money’s worth and you don’t root against a director of the film you’re going to see. And LeBron stuffing his third title down those analytical pundits’ throats who never deemed this feasible would be a win for basketball.
It’s no different than non-Bulls fans rooting for Michael Jordan to tally as many titles as possible during that incredible stretch of two three-peats. Steph Curry might’ve won the MVP the last two seasons while becoming the best shooter the league has ever seen, but as we’ve seen the last two years, he’s no LeBron from a pure value standpoint. No slight to Steph — it’s like a straight flush topping four aces. Both can be elite hands while one tops the other.
Like Jordan, James is the greatest player of his generation, a proclamation that’s no longer up for debate. Nobody — not Kobe, not Wade, not Steph — impacts the game quite the same way on both ends. Nobody makes his teammates better as much as James, who showed off this power by making has-been Richard Jefferson look 10 years younger.
While many think this Warriors team plays the prettiest basketball we’ve ever seen, the same point can be made with James on an individual level. He’s become the most versatile and skilled player most of us have ever seen, one who, when hitting his outside jumper — every great has at least one imperfection — becomes a cannon ball at point-blank range. Unstoppable.
Rooting for James is rooting for basketball, not Cleveland. No matter what jersey he wears, we should want his basketball prime squeezed for all its worth. We should want him to win not one but 12 titles.
It’s okay to root for LeBron James again. His greatness is captivating.