Does winning heal all wounds? Do the ends always justify the means? Can a man who was among the most popular players in the NBA, only to end up on the list of the most hated athletes on the planet, get back the admiration he lost by winning an NBA Championship? Barring a miraculous comeback by the Oklahoma City Thunder, LeBron James and the Miami Heat will win the Association’s Finals, before this time next week.
When James his first NBA Title in his ninth campaign in the Association, restore his reputation and put his name once again alongside, Bird, Magic, Michael and Kobe in the fans’ minds? Or will be a “mental asterisk” after his name, because unlike the four other players, he had to join another star’s team to win a Title?
For the fans of the Cleveland Cavaliers, the answer is an obvious no, as their worst fear is about to come true; despite what Cleveland Team Owner Dan Gilbert told the Cavaliers fans when James deserted the team for South Beach, the Heat will win a Championship before the team from Cleveland does. Their former franchise player sporting his Championship ring, will only intensify their contempt for him and tear the scars off of the wounds they incurred when he left, that had finally started to close this past season.
The three-time NBA MVP, made a lot of cold, callous and sometimes ignorant statements in his first year in Miami. However the one that most likely hurt the fans of Cleveland the most, was when he said that winning an NBA Title with Miami would be no less special than winning one with the Cavaliers. James knows that is not the case; that Cleveland fans have starved for a Major League Championship since 1964, when the Browns won the NFL Title. That was why the night he was drafted, he told the world that he would light up Cleveland like Las Vegas, a promise he neglected to fulfill.
The Heat won the Finals in 2006, when that team’s “True Chosen One” Dwyane Wade teamed up with Shaquille O’Neal to win the club’s first title. Also let’s realize that Miami happens to be a very transient city; with many of its residents relocated from cities in the Northeast; they may be Heat fans now, but probably they grew up rooting for another team earlier in life. They can not possibly connect to a team, like a fan that has spent their entire life in one city, rooting for the same team year after year. Each season ending with the infamous words “Wait Til Next Year.”
Moving on from Cleveland and Cavaliers fans however; how will fans of other teams, who lost as much respect for him as those from the city he left, now react? Will Sixers and Kings fans, who shared Cleveland’s fans outrage and mercilessly booed him each time he played in their arena last season, now consider him one of the all-time greats in the Association? Or will they still consider him D-Wade’s version of Scottie Pippen, a necessary piece for a team, but not a player who could lead an NBA team to a Title?
Many members of the media are ready to return him to the lofty perch he occupied with Cleveland, as those who watched the game on TV Tuesday night, heard broadcasters refer to him as the greatest player on the planet. It will be interesting to see in the coming days and weeks whether the fans share that opinion.