LeBron James got it wrong again: the real world is brighter this morning. Millions of sports fans who were sick and tired of a vain braggart strutting around and proclaiming a championship dynasty are delighted with the humbling of James and the Miami Heat at the hands of the Dallas Mavericks.
When it was time for James to deliver on his boasts, he checked out. When it was time for “King James” to take Michael Jordan’s crown as the greatest basketball player ever, he stumbled and pouted. You have to deliver on the basketball court. You don’t stand there and read your press clippings. Dirk Nowitzki and his band of blue-collar teammates kept their mouths shut and got the job done.
James acknowledged last night that Miami’s fall in six games felt like a “personal failure,” but “I’m not going to hang my head low.” Why not? Doesn’t he feel humbled by scoring only 11 points in the final periods of the first five games of the NBA Finals?
Last summer, he raised his head as high as could be and predicted a string of championships that would last nearly a decade. “Not one, not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, not seven,” he crowed to the wild cheers of Miami Heat fans who wanted to believe they could buy NBA championships.
James isn’t about to take responsibility for all the hype he helped create. He isn’t inclined to examine his failures and perhaps learn from them. He isn’t going to worry about fans who are delighted to see him fail. He doesn’t let Cleveland fans or anyone else hold a mirror to his face.
“All the people that were rooting for me to fail, at the end of the day, they have to wake up tomorrow and have the same life that they had before they woke up today,” James said last night. “They have the same personal problems they had today.”
What millions of fans don’t have today is confirmation that shallow, pampered, self-indulgent athletes always get their way and that teams with big bucks can always buy championships. The Mavericks struck a vote for the values of team play, hard work, humility and perseverance.
Millions of fans who live by such values and want to pass them along to their children are feeling pretty darn good today.