We all know LeBron James floundered in the NBA finals, says Buzz Bissinger at The Daily Beast. But does that justify the smug "vitriol, the spewing hatred" commentators are spitting out? Truly, we've "sunk to a new level of nuclear negativity" since the Dallas Mavericks trounced James and the rest of the Miami Heat on Sunday night. After James ditched his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers last summer in search of a championship in Miami, NBA fans have relished his every misstep. But enough may be enough. Here, three reasons it's time to give LeBron a break:
1. LeBron is evil, but he's not Voldemort
There is no denying that James' "ignominious betrayal of the people of Cleveland," and his premature crowing over the Heat's unstoppability both grated on fans, says Joe Queenan at The Weekly Standard. But "there are limits to the amount of derision that can be heaped onto a single human being." LeBron may be like Judas Iscariot, "but he is not in fact Judas Iscariot. He is satanic, but he is not in fact Satan." Adds Harlan Coben at Bloomberg: "I'm all for taking athletes down a peg when they deserve it. But please, let the punishment fit the crime."
2. James will surely beat himself up more than we ever can
Not only is LeBron really a decent guy, says Bill Reiter at Fox Sports, but after choking in the fourth quarter of the finals' last game, he has to spend the next year wondering whether he's "a bad basketball player." That's plenty of punishment for anyone, especially for the Chosen One, who can't hide from the spotlight.
3. We should actually admire James
If anything, we should be marveling at the "almost stoic poise" with which James reacted to the hatred heaped on him all season, says Greg Cote at The Miami Herald. Ever since James abandoned the Cleveland Cavaliers for Miami he has been treated like the bad guy. But "LeBron hasn't stopped being the best player in the NBA," and every one of his detractors would shut up if he agreed to play for their team.