It's Time To Take The Heat Off LeBron

LeBron James of the Miami Heat heads to the basket against the Dallas Mavericks during Game 5 of the NBA Finals. James chose to play with the Heat in hopes of winning an NBA championship. i i

hide captionLeBron James of the Miami Heat heads to the basket against the Dallas Mavericks during Game 5 of the NBA Finals. James chose to play with the Heat in hopes of winning an NBA championship.

Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images
LeBron James of the Miami Heat heads to the basket against the Dallas Mavericks during Game 5 of the NBA Finals. James chose to play with the Heat in hopes of winning an NBA championship.

LeBron James of the Miami Heat heads to the basket against the Dallas Mavericks during Game 5 of the NBA Finals. James chose to play with the Heat in hopes of winning an NBA championship.

Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images

Gabe O'Connor is a production assistant for All Things Considered.

If you hate LeBron James and you thought The Decision was the worst thing that ever happened in the history of terrible, awful things, you must be chittering like a squirrel in sheer delight today.

The Dallas Mavericks are one game away from denying the NBA title to the Man Who Crushed Cleveland and to the rest of the Miami Heat — who probably would like to destroy other Rust Belt cities if they had a chance.

Hyperbole? Sure. But sports in 2011 are nothing if not pure overreaction.

I got why people, even outside of Cleveland, were mad at LeBron when he said he was going to take his talents to South Beach. The Decision — the contrived, prolonged ESPN telecast built around the brief, painful interview during which James finally announced his plans — was insensitive at best. I winced right along with everyone else when I saw it.

But it was also almost a year ago. If you're rooting against him still and you're not from Cleveland, why?

And keep in mind, if you have been rooting for "anyone but Miami" in these playoffs you've been rooting for — if not bad people — then people who have done some bad things. This includes current Maverick guard Jason Kidd, who also happens to be a convicted wife beater.

Look, I am not trying to single out Kidd (even though I just did) and I'm not saying you should hate Jason Kidd or the Mavericks. If you want to continue to think the Heat and LeBron James personify everything that's awful in sports — that's fine.

But there are worse things than deciding, as James did, to take millions of dollars less than than he could have received elsewhere, to play with his good friend for the sake of winning a championship. And that's exactly why Lebron joined Dwyane Wade in Miami last summer, even if he did tear out the heart of an entire city and set it on fire on national TV while laughing like an insane person.

Oh ... right ... hyperbole ... sorry about that.

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