As facebook friends, twitter followers, office mates, and anyone unfortunate enough to end up watching a Miami Heat game with me is aware: I hope the Miami Heat do not win this year’s championship. This isn’t a secret, but I’ve been trying to think through my rationale for accepting what the kids call my status as “a hater.” It isn’t that I personally dislike Lebron James, his friends Chris and Dwyane, or anyone from Miami in particular. It also has nothing to do with the franchise – I didn’t mind at all when they won in 2006, I was a big Alonzo Mourning fan since his days at G’town. Contrary to popular opinion, it certainly isn't how the big 3 worked the system (that’s what you’re supposed to do with systems!). If memory serves, I believe that I posted a facebook status in 2009 or 10 (ask the NSA for specifics) to the effect that I hoped Bosh and James would go to the Heat in free agency because I thought it would be fun to watch another superteam formed by free agent friends agreeing to be on the same team (see: 2007 Celtics). What I was not prepared for was how much fun it would be – not to watch good basketball – but to watch Lebron James lose.
Lebron James losing is, objectively, the funniest/most depressing thing in sports (the depression merely adds to the humor). It isn’t fun to watch Kobe lose because he just gets angry. I can watch people get angry on Springer (same went for Jordan). Lately, when most teams lose, players temporarily sulk in the postgame press conferences, but then make cheerful TV appearances shortly thereafter (Mike Conley, Jr., Roy Hibbert, etc). Lebron James, however, gets this look like life has no meaning. There’s sulking after a loss and then there’s capital ‘S’ Sulking – wandering, lost, unable to figure out why we’re all here, why expend all the effort to be great, why hope? – that characterizes Lebron when he fails to win a title. In game 3, when the Heat were down by about 25 (which was hilarious) Lebron had a confused, distraught, upset look on his face akin to the look of a 6 year old wondering when goldie the fish he won at the fair learned to swim upside down. Stephen A. Smith characterized this look as “what the hell am I doing here.” I characterize it as depressing in its hilarity.
There are many aspects of Lebron’s life that would be nice – money, being able to dunk…that’s about all I’d care for, but I bet there are other good things about being Lebron. However, since he was 16 he was force-fed the narrative: “be the best in NBA history or bust.” Even crappier: throughout his whole career, what constitutes “the best” (and who defines it) has shifted more often and more extremely than the left’s opinion of Obama. That part of his life is unenviable due to the fact that the narrative constantly spewed is “Greatest Of All Time or goat.” Thinking that he’s bought into his own hype is the only way I can explain the [hilarious/depressing] “my life has no meaning” look on his face each time he fails to live up to the ever-changing definition of what it means for his career to mean anything other than “not the best, so didn’t live up to potential.” This whole cycle is depressing, and yet, it is hilarious to watch all parties involved deny/spin this cycle all while buying into it…and then depressing because I’ve bought into it. And then hilarious again. And depressing again.
Thanks for reading.