If you’re reading this letter then that means that you finally did it and I swallowed enough Drano to kill Gary Busey. You are an NBA champion at last. I’m sure that it was a long, tough, and stressful journey for you but it is over. You can finally say goodbye to Karl Malone and Charles Barkley and other ringless wonders for you will be kissing the Larry O’Brien Trophy for the rest of the summer.
A lot of emotions have been stirring up inside of me during this year’s playoffs. I kept most of them locked up with the plan to reveal them at the right time. Well, there probably isn’t a more right time than now. I don’t want to dwell on the past any longer. Holding a grudge is something that I will do for the rest of your career, but it isn’t something that will consume me like it has over the last two years. You and I both know the details and nothing can be said or done to make me accept what happened two years ago. Basically, I just want you to know that you made me a die-hard NBA fan again and I supported you even when you refused to shake hands after a playoff series loss and wanted to be a global icon and showed up all of your opponents. I was behind you 100%. And my reward for that was a hot, steamy shit all over my forehead. Just because I'm German doesn't mean that I like to be shit on. But enough about that—this line of thinking isn’t going to get us anywhere.
Something funny happened to me after game 3 of your series with Indiana this year. You guys lost so I felt inclined to watch your post-game press conference just to get some laughs. However, just watching you react like a normal person, I actually felt sympathy for you. You were carrying yourself like a guy who had the entire weight of the world on your shoulders and that it was beginning to crush you. I thought that I saw an innocence that I interpreted as a person that was in over his head. I felt bad for you. But then my big, smart brain reminded me that you asked for ALL OF THIS so I went back to my usual logic of despising you at all costs. Just know, though, that for an instant I was back on your side once more.
Ever since that moment, you have changed. Since game 3 in Indianapolis, there is a different aura around you. You aren’t mean-mugging your opponents now. You aren’t pandering to the crowd anymore. You almost looked detached. What we as fans once knew of you and your style is completely gone. Whatever happened, something changed and you have carried yourself with a win-at-all-costs demeanor. It’s almost as if you are now Kobe Bryant out there. It has seriously been a pleasure to watch. Like I said, I don’t know what was the turning point or what made it finally click for you, but it looks like the switch has finally been turned up to 11 for good and you have realized that championships are all that matters. Bill Simmons said it best:
I don't care how much you hated "The Decision" — if you can't appreciate what LeBron James is doing right now, you need to start following another sport. It's one of the greatest night-to-night athletic feats we have ever witnessed.And he’s right. This is what everyone wanted to see from you since you came into the league: the stone cold killer who attacks the game and never settles. It is unfortunate that you never understood this while in Cleveland, but it is refreshing to see that you finally “get” it. You get what is important. It’s not about branding or being an icon or making the top ten every night—it is about being the BEST. And it appears that that is what matters to you now. You’ve grown up. It sort of sucks that I can't cheer for this version of LeBron.
I hope that you see what I see now that you have that illusive ring. I see that it was never about not having players around you. It was always about you wanting it. You didn’t need Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. You really didn’t. You needed to be Kobe Bryant. It was always that. It was always about taking the game and championships as seriously as they are. Basketball is a fun game but to be the best, you have to outwork everybody and want it more. You said that you wanted championships over the first 8 years of your career but your actions never matched with your words. Now they do and now you are being rewarded. Just know that one insignificant blogger out here truly believes that THIS LeBron that we saw in the summer of 2012 could win a title anywhere and with anyone. You did not have to destroy your legacy and charm to get to where you are now.
I am still having a hard time figuring out how I feel about this though. I’m not sad that you won. I’m not angry. I’m certainly not happy or proud. When you came into the league, we were told that you reaching the mountain top was just a formality. You were going to win rings by the fistful. It took a lot longer than we all expected, but you did it and now a lot of the haters of the world like Dan Gilbert, myself, and the rest of America get to swallow all of your shit. I guess that if I had to sum up my emotions right now, I would say that I’m going through the final step of The 5 Steps of Grieving. I’ve reached acceptance. I accept that no matter how hard I cheered against you and how much I wanted you to keep failing, you were too great of a player to keep coming up short. So I have no other choice than to accept you as a champion. Don’t get me wrong, I still don’t think that this justifies what you did, but I have accepted it and maybe now I can finally move on.
I will never come out and say “congratulations” because part of being a great sports fan is to never give in to your hate. But I have had to watch the Red Sox and Cowboys win a combined 5 titles so it’s not like it is the first time that I’ve had to eat shit. I guess that the best I can do is tip my cap to a hell of a basketball player that finally put it all together and achieved his dream even if it was at the expense of me.
Just know that I will always root for you to lose until the day that you retire and probably until the day that I die. I am neither forgetting about what happened or forgiving you, but as a sports fan, I don't like to see wasted talent.
Whew, I feel better. Hell, if I've got to watch scumbags like John Calipari and Jeff Carter win a title this year, we might as well crown your ass while were at it.