FILE – In this Dec. 13, 2009, file photo, Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James dunks in front of Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant, rear, in the second quarter of an NBA basketball in Oklahoma City. LeBron James and Kevin Durant have squared off 23 times, with James holding an 18-5 edge. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)
Game 7s rarely live up to the hype.
They can be exciting, they can be legendary, but usually they play out like any other game: one team plays better than the other. Maybe they shot the ball better, got more breaks or made a few defensive plays at critical moments.
By the time the fourth quarter rolls around, one team often has already taken control of the game.
The Celtics face such a game Monday against the Wizards. Maybe it will be legendary, maybe not. But either way, the winning team will face LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday.
Whatever nationwide dislike there is for the New England Patriots is nothing compared to that aimed toward LeBron James.
As with the Patriots, James has plenty of supporters throughout the country. As with the Patriots, these supporters assign James a level of aptitude like this world has never seen. Everything is perfect, every success was planned by a sage genius. We are all witnesses.
But there are even more who feel exactly the opposite. Every negative feeling that exists about the Patriots as an organization, LeBron James receives as an individual.
It’s not for the right reasons, though.
Last week on Twitter, a local high school athlete wrote, “People love to hate on Bron. I don’t get it.”
I responded, “There’s just something about him…”
There are, in fact, several things about James. But they’re probably all dumb reasons to dislike him.
He was a king and a chosen one while he was still in high school. Anointed before he was even drafted, already assigned to the rarefied air where Michael Jordan was floating.
He got a sweet shoe deal for all that, but he also opened himself up to comparisons that nobody could ever live up to (right?) — Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Magic Johnson. He hadn’t even won a playoff game.
Then there was The Decision. If dumping someone by text message if awful, then doing it on national television is downright deplorable, especially with an all-time regrettable line like, “I’m taking my talents to South Beach.”
That was bad, but it was seven years ago. Besides, Cleveland’s prodigal son is three seasons into his return to Cleveland, and he even gave the hard-luck, longsuffering city a championship last year.
And, yeah, James often has an Alex Rodriguez-like awkwardness and self-centeredness. For instance, in February, while discussing teammates’ injuries, James told reporters: “As long as I’m in the lineup, we’ve got a chance.” Way to make the entire crew feel like a valuable part of the success.
So, he’s not perfect. But consider this: By all indications, James seems like a decent person. Charisma isn’t seeping out of his pores, but I have a theory that if I ever hung out with him, I would probably end up liking him a lot.
James is the best basketball player in the world. He isn’t the most flashy, dazzling player — you don’t tune into a game wondering what amazing feat he’ll pull off — but he is the best. And, because of him, his team will probably beat your team more often than not.
Look at the run he’s on: Since 2011, James has played in every NBA Finals, four times with Miami and twice with Cleveland. (The Celtics were the last LeBron-less team to represent the Eastern Conference in the Finals. That was 2010.)
The reason that the Patriots are so widely disliked is because they always win. LeBron James deserves that same respect.
Hate him because you can’t beat him. He’s earned that.