Why Do I Hate LeBron James?
I grew up just north of Dallas in the shadow of Texas Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys, America's Team. Just that statement may have some of you hating me. Like most Texans, though, I have a lot of pride in all things Texas. I root for the Texas Rangers, the Dallas Stars, and if you knocked on my door this past week, you may have found me lounging in a University of Texas t-shirt even though I went to college at the Air Force Academy and grad school at USC.
Now I was very excited last year when the Mavericks beat the Miami Heat to win the NBA Championship, but that didn't turn me against LeBron James. I have LeBron James gear in my closet that I got during his Cleveland days. I thought he would be a good person to take the next great player torch from Michael Jordan which was being held by Kobe when LeBron came in the NBA.
What sparked it all off was the spectacle infamously known as "The decision." I wasn't mad that he left Cleveland, even though I'd have respected him more if he stayed and tried to win there. What got me was how he left. LeBron, first on his own, then joined by Chris Bosh and Dwayne, had the most high profile free agent move to the Miami heat to win "Not 1, Not 2, Not 3, Not 4..." but presumably many championships.
This was before they played one game together and to my eyes looked like a lot of pride. They followed it up with an air around them that moved way past supreme confidence to arrogance. It seemed out of control and before the Finals, I thought "God resists the proud and gives Grace to the humble," and I just knew because of that, the Mavs would win. But along the way, as the Mavs were outplaying the Heat, DWade and LeBron just couldn't help themselves. They had to clown Dirk in the process.
After this any respect I had for LeBron was gone. And by the way, even though DWade ripped the heart out of my Mavs in 2006 to win the NBA Finals, I respected him and if you know me, I said for years that Dallas didn't have the heart to win a championship as a result of that series. But it just seemed like the sin of pride was just spreading. I lost respect for DWade too. I was officially in the hater camp.
If this wasn't bad enough, after losing to my Mavs in 2011, here's how LeBron responded to the growing hatred for him spreading among NBA fans.
That was enough to keep my haterade going until this year when during the playoffs when Boston was up 3-2 and going home to hopefully close out the Heat, when I was ready to start the online parade of fans waiting for Miami to lose and go home again without a championship when one of the commentators, Jeff Van Gundy made a comment. He said "There ought to be a statute of limitations on stupid." What he went on to explain was that while LeBron did make a bad decision and the way the Heat carried themselves in 2011 deserved the response it got, they didn't deserve to be hated or punished for it forever.
That was convicting for me as a Christian... when God forgives us, our sins to Him are as far as the East is from the West (Ps 103:12). And because we have been forgiven much, we are called to forgive much (Matt 18:21-35). What was I doing hating a man for making a bad decision. Right then, I did a review of the sins, THAT I COULD REMEMBER, that God has forgiven me for and the list was long. Womanizing, drunkenness, paying for an abortion, and did I mention pride?
The same sin I was holding against LeBron, I have been guilty of myself. I struggle with it from time to time now, which my wife and close friends can certainly confirm. Yet here I was holding it against LeBron just like the man in Matthew in the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant. Beyond that, there were the sins that I couldn't even remember, but even though God knows He has forgotten and does not hold them against me.
I resolved then to stop hating LeBron, DWade, and the Heat. I'm still rooting for Kevin Durant and the OKC Thunder to win the Finals because KD went to... you guessed it, the University of TX. I was actually there when he got the Wooden Award for the best college player in 2007. We go back... The first two games of the Finals have been really good and I hope there are seven good ones because I love good basketball. On top of that, I wish LeBron well and hope he plays great. But I'm not hating anymore. And who knew that God would use the sport I love to make me more like him. I bet He did.