The King of "Still Doesn't Get It."
For all of LeBron James' considerable talents - undeniable and spectacular - perhaps his biggest talent is the ability to live in a universe that is completely un-related to one everybody else lives in.
Just when I thought LeBron was saying all the right things, growing up in front of our eyes, he uncorks a "hater's rebuttal" last night that fell as flat as a 28-foot desperation airball.
"Absolutely not, because at the end of the day, all the people that were rooting on me to fail, at the end of the day, they have to wake up tomorrow and have the same life that they had before they woke up today," James said. "They have the same personal problems they had today. I'm going to continue to live the way I want to live and continue to do the things that I want to do with me and my family and be happy with that."
In other words: "You people suck, and I'm still rich and famous. Suck on that."
What James still can't comprehend - and sadly, many of the Miami Heat cultists now trying to spin this debacle - is that people aren't rooting against him PER SE, they are rooting against everything LeBron James and the Heat STAND FOR in sports today.
Flash over substance.
Celebrations before accomplishment.
Immaturity before class.
Hype before humility.
American sports fans are a pretty forgiving lot, all things considered. Most wanted Pete Rose forgiven and re-instated, many still want Tiger Woods to make a comeback, and even athletes nearly convicted of rape and murder (Kobe Bryant and Ray Lewis) can be re-habilitated to the point where they are once again marketable spokesmen in their sports.
So trust me, LeBron is not that far from being liked - even loved - if he can just get it through his dense, overly indulged, juvenile brain.
a. You have to win.
b. You have to at least fake some humility.
c. You have to be honest about your shortcomings.
Stop flopping like a soccer playing girl from the movie "Ladybugs."
Stop making excuses for everything that doesn't go right.
Stop acting like a child while trying to "diss" an opposing player.
I think most satisfying of all, is that what Miami tried to do - while perfectly legal - is only "do-able" in about 4 or 5 NBA cities at best. You need a playground for the rich and famous as your home city (Miami, check, Cleveland, ha!). You need a super deep pocketed owner who doesn't mind perhaps actually losing money in the short run on a very expensive team. And you need one superstar already installed, and another one willing to take slightly less money.
On top of all that, you need an NBA salary "cap" that is more flexible than Plastic Man.
In short, this is no "model" for success that other teams would be wise to try to replicate. In fact, they can't. Half the league can barely attract as single "B" level free agent, much less THREE "A" level guys.
But this will all be addressed in the coming lockout. The NBA should re-calibrate the league so that guys can make a fabulous living playing professional basketball, stuck to the city they are drafted by for the term of their first contract, and make leaving via free agency a serious consideration that is not a "have my cake and eat it too" scenario like Carmelo Anthony engineered this season.
Keep teams on a true "hard cap" and make them feel the consequences of stupid signings.
Then, and only then, you'll have a league. Right now, you have a reality show. And like a dew-eyed bachelorette getting pwned on the final episode by a dude who leaves her high and dry, this LeBron Debacle was some of the sweetest schadenfruede pie - evah!