It's no secret that I've been a critic of LeBron James over the years, there have been no shortage of anti-LBJ diatribes here: but I gotta say, I'm now a bit of a fan. I know when I decided to try appreciate him, I'm not sure when it happened - becoming fully appreciative of the guy.
Nearly a year and a half ago, I posted:
I for one am going to try to be less critical of him. It's something I've oft-pointed out to the anti-Kobe crowd: you're missing out on some amazing basketball if you focus too much on your hate. I'm definitely not as rabid as some are in the way I've regarded LeBron, but it's not been positive.
I think focusing less on what I don't like about LeBron and looking more towards simply enjoying basketball will be a good thing for me. No reason I can't be a Laker fan and enjoy LeBron's basketball.
And it's become a truth for me. I'm kind of aghast at how fundamentally enjoyable it's become to "like" LeBron - but it's not just me. LeBron's changed too. That's become really apparent of late.
First there was this:
I can't even imagine LeBron doing that earlier in his career (pre-title), and if he did - it would probably have come across as contrived... which it most likely would have been. But this was pure. Just joy in what some middle-aged dude had just achieved, and partaking in his ability to share the moment with Michael Drysch (the guy who hit the shot).
Then more recently, there was this:
Which... if at all possible, was even cooler.
I guess it happens with age, and the fact that he now has a title makes it easier for him to relax... and have fun with it. All that past madness - march on by. I'm guessing he's just happy to put it all behind him. I'm happy to do the same.
Much like you, I've been very critical of LeBron. All I'll say for now is this:
He's maturing, and he's growing on me.
I think it was kind of inevitable. For a while, it was 'cool' to hate him - for his failures in Cleveland, or for everything that happened in 2011 - but he's always had what it takes to be universally popular.
I think he's at a point now where he has pretty much no haters (obviously some Cavs fans, certain media members will always hate) and it's really quite remarkable.
Who was the last player to be so well-liked and accepted across the league? Kobe's always had haters, T-Mac, VC, AI, Shaq all had their criticisms... I guess Jordan? I know he was a jerk too, but he's the biggest idol the game's ever had.
On that, up until now it's been a case of wanting to be 'like Mike'. Can getting your ''Bron on' challenge that?
@MichaelSaunders Well... firstly, I think he absolutely still has his detractors. But I still believe he has a very long way to go before he's known on a Jordan level.
Here in Japan? Many people still don't know who LeBron is, but even kids know Jordan.