Jon Friedman's Media Web
LeBron James, I don't hate you anymore6/22/12 11:37 AM ET (MarketWatch)Print
ReutersMiami Heat star LeBron James celebrates near the end of Game 5.
NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- Maybe it is as simple as saying this: Winning cures everything.
LeBron James is a champion now, and America should be ready to forgive him and move on.
Some of you may recall that I once wrote a column subtly entitled, "Dear LeBron James: Why I really hate you." In case anyone missed my point, the subhead read: "You're the poster child for American sports' ills." Read that Media Web column on LeBron James.
And he was. He callously bolted championship-starved Cleveland, near which he'd grown up, and headed for the glamorous city of Miami.
James's popularity sank after his ill-fated television special, pretentiously entitled "The Decision," his obnoxious boasting at a silly pep rally that his new team, the Miami Heat, would win multiple NBA championships and that he was thrilled to have decided to "take my talents to South Beach."
Blech. No wonder the sports universe celebrated James's failure to capture a championship a year ago, losing improbably to the highly likable Dallas Mavericks. The biggest reason was that James played poorly. Some charged that he had choked -- the cruelest criticism of a professional athlete.
That was then. James led the Heat to his first NBA championship Thursday night -- and the franchise's second one -- capping a 4-1 championship-series rout of the up-and-coming Oklahoma City Thunder. James performed brilliantly throughout and was deservedly voted the series' most valuable player.
I don't hate James anymore for the five reasons below -- and I suspect you probably agree with me. It boils down to more than jumping on the James bandwagon or being a frontrunner of a fan.
1.Humility. In the aftermath of his greatest sports accomplishment, James, who broke into the NBA in 2003 fresh out of high school, spoke proudly about his personal growth. He gets it. At last.
2.Leadership. When younger, effervescent teammate Mario Chalmers started preening during the Game 5 rout, James sternly took him aside and told him to knock it off.
3.Courage. James fought through severe leg cramps in Game 4 to can a big three-point shot and pave the way for a Heat win.
4. Restraint. During the season, when the Heat were struggling, James remained the consummate team player. He held the squad together.
5. Maturity. James understood his role as a senior spokesman on the team, and he rose to the challenge with a generosity of spirit. He is fully the face of the franchise.
The Heat are poised to return to the NBA Finals next year. I wouldn't be surprised if the team again confronts the Oklahoma City Thunder. Both teams are led by young stars -- James is still only 27, while teammate Dwyane Wade turned 30 this year, while the Thunder's Kevin Durant is but 23 -- and are built to contend for championships for years to come.
Today, all is forgiven.
MEDIA WEB QUESTION OF THE DAY: Should we finally forgive James?
What do you think? Feel free to post your comment below.