Monday, June 25, 2012
NBA Finals Post Mortem: Pricks Can Win Championships, Too.
Dear me, do we really need all of these peons to LeBron James' personal growth as a man? His victory is interesting and well-deserved, and I don't mind analyzing the psyche of successful athletes, but I'm calling bullshit. The Miami Heat won the NBA Finals because they're an excellent basketball team and LeBron James is an incredibly talented player; they most certainly did not win because James "matured" or "hit rock bottom and returned" or "learned how to be a champion".
I mean, I'm sure James is slightly more mature this year than he was last year- but then, so is everyone, including Durant, Rondo, Duncan, Rose, and the rest of this year's non-champions. They've all faced adversity, too, not the least of which being James and the other excellent basketball players on the Heat. As for "learned how to be a champion", that's a bullshit fucking phrase that I'm not even going to attempt to fucking decipher without a shit ton of useless fucking profanity.
Unfortunately, my protests amount to very little, and the "LeBron James finally won because loss and unpopularity last season made him focus on what's important" narrative is already taking hold. The sports punditry is just incapable of handling it when someone they don't like wins- so they immediately recast that person as someone who only won because they finally came around to the things the sports pundits like. I guess that's the annoying cousin to Orwell's "We've always been at war with Eastasia" thing.
The worst part is, that kind of narrative setting cheapens the sport- it cheapens all sports. The best thing about sports is that it's a Grand Meritocracy. Eventually, talent wins out over rank, money, popularity, records- and yes, personality. That's amazing; it's what gives us upsets and underdogs and no-names making history. But more importantly, it's incredibly progressive; it's why Jackie Robinson and Roberto Clemente were ultimately inevitable, why Ted Williams gets a place in history even though he quarreled with the intolerant, close-minded Boston media, why Brett Favre gets no passes just because he fooled so many football writers into thinking he was jes' a good ol' boy havin' fun out there.
Ultimately, it means some pricks are going to win sometimes, but, well, suck it up; that's a small price to pay for all the amazing things we get out of the Grand Meritocracy. It's not worth hiding from or pretending it doesn't happen, like we're saying in this narrative on LeBron. When we put personality back at the center of things, we move away from the Grand Meritocracy, and toward some stupid bullshit political version of sports where the pundits tell us to ignore the score, they know who the real winners are.
The thing is, LeBron probably never was as much of an asshole as we thought right after "The Decision"- and nor is he a Saved Man, now; he's always been a little full of himself, but he's always been an incredibly hard worker. I'm confidant that LeBron has been roughly the same man throughout the last two years. And y'know what? That's complexity is more interesting anyway- to say nothing of a better sign for a future great athlete who is even more complicated.