Post-game Reactions

Over the last week or so, we’ve been seeing a lot of the argument that there’s something inherently sinister about how hard we’re all rooting against LeBron James. That the fact that we revel in his loss says terrible things about our moral culture. That the larger trend goes way beyond basketball.

This argument has, on occasion, made me feel like a bad person for wanting him to fail as desperately as I do, which is very desperately indeed.

But I shouldn’t feel bad. And neither should you, as a Celtics fan or an NBA fan or a human being. Because honestly? It doesn’t really go beyond basketball. The whole discussion may manifest itself in other, crazier forms, and it definitely has a tendency to go too far, but in the end: it’s about basketball.

To clarify the original argument: I’ve specifically heard implications that, if you joyously celebrated LeBron’s failure in the Finals as I did, you are probably either:

A) a racist
B) a petty, spiteful jerk
C) jealous of him (but, for some reason, not jealous of Dirk Nowitzki)

Now, there are certainly people out there who root against LeBron for the wrong reasons, including the ones above (except C, which…come on).

But the idea that racism, jealousy, personality flaws, or some other non-basketball thing goes hand in hand with resenting LeBron is, at best, completely cuckoo bananas, and at worst, very insulting to the community of NBA fans. None of that has anything to do with why we want LeBron to lose. It’s not really The Decision, either. Would we feel as strongly as we do if he’d told Jim Gray he was headed for New York, or Chicago, or the Clippers, or the Mavericks?

No, like the majority of people who follow the game, I actually root against LeBron for basketball reasons alone. I want LeBron to fail because LeBron and the Heat represent the potential to absolutely torpedo the NBA’s already limited parity. Because they could have a ruinous effect on the NBA’s overall product. I root against them because I’m scared.

The NBA already has the least parity of any major professional sport: before Sunday, eight different frachises had won a championship in the previous 30 seasons, and only a handful of teams realistically have a title shot at the beginning of each year. Compared to any other sport, it’s extremely difficult to turn an also-ran into a champion. Over the last 30 years, it’s been nearly impossible.

The lack of parity, exemplified by another Laker championship, was easily my least favorite thing about the league when last season ended. Then the formation of the Big Three introduced the possibility of a single championship contender for years to come, and, as a result, the least fun NBA ever. Think about it: the best player in the league teamed up with another top-five player, joined by a top-five player at his position. There was a chance for them to break basically every record, the most terrifying of which was “consecutive championships.”

This was a new problem for us, as fans. The reason we’d never had to deal with this before is that no player has ever been both A) good enough to destroy professional basketball as we know it and B) actively interested in sharing responsibility as his team’s best player, thus creating an invincible hellspawn dynasty.

But LeBron was both. And, in defiance of all of our wishes, he deliberately constructed a world where he could win forever.

And you know what? He still could! Miami’s season, minus an injury to one of the stars, was almost, almost as bad as it could possibly have been. Consider this:

A) They filled out their roster with absolutely terrible players with zero upside, basing each signing almost entirely on the question “Is this guy one of our best friends?”
B) They lost their fourth-best player for almost the entire year.
C) Their best player (also the best player in the world) performed way, way below his potential in the Finals.

And they still got within two games of a championship. These factors are unlikely to conspire again. We should still be afraid of them.

We are, too. Pretty much every narrative that has developed about the Heat in the last week or so is at least partially the result of this fear. The idea that LeBron lacks the necessary “will to win” is really just a hope that he won’t run train on the league for years to come. The idea that this Miami team needs to be blown up is, to be kind, a pipe dream and, to be mean, stupid. We really just want them to go away.

Here’s the crazy thing: the strategy might actually be working! Casting LeBron as a villain and dumping on him all over television, print, and the Internet has very possibly had the following effects, in chronological order:

1) Decreased LeBron’s desire to play basketball
2) Caused him to perform below his potential in the Finals
3) Sustained NBA competitiveness for one merciful year
4) Made him consider getting rid of the Google Alert he set for himself

If this causality chain has actually occurred, there are big ethical questions to be considered. We (the media and the fans) are making a man’s life a little bit worse to serve our own interests. If nothing else, we should definitely be nicer about how we approach the discussion of LeBron James.

But that doesn’t mean we should feel bad about rooting against him. We want to see a competitive league, and LeBron, Wade, and Bosh conspired to stand in the way of that goal. So we wanted them to fail. We were really happy when they lost, because it meant another year when their potential to dominate the league was not realized.

I’m still scared of the Heat, so I’m going to root against them next year, too. Not because I think LeBron is a terrible person: I violently wanted LeBron to beat the Spurs in 2007. Not because I’m a terrible person: I own a chain of shelters for orphan baby turtles. And definitely not because I’m jealous of LeBron: the only person in the NBA I’m jealous of is Von Wafer, and only because he’s currently dating my ex-wife.

I’m rooting against the Heat because seeing ideal NBA competitiveness is more important to me than seeing the ideal NBA team. Because I don’t want to know who’s going to win every year.

Why does it have to be more than that?

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Hayes Davenport

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  • hdavenport

    That's the last post about LeBron. We now return to your regularly scheduled etc.

    • Morpheus

      I was just saying…i'm on the wrong site.

  • TMC

    As much as we as fans have vitriol for a player like LeBron, I believe that everyone who has wished to see him fail as a player would never hope to see him fail as a person. If we were to ever hear a story of real tragedy in LeBron's life, not a single person would ever say "he had his comeuppance"

    For me, sport is a place of suspended reality, it is the bridge of entertainment that we get in the artificial worlds of television and movies and real world people. In entertainment, characters are developed who we grow to love or hate; we become engaged in these characters. Our connections with these characters simply makes it all the more compelling. For us to love something so dearly, we obviously will have an equal reaction of hate towards that which stands in the way of what we love. When a character we hate in entertainment has something bad happen to him, we are happy that this imaginary world is following the track we wish it, but we are able to distinguish between the actor who portrays this character and we do not hold the same vitriol for them personally.

    This is what makes the sports so interesting, it is a place where there are story lines and characters involved in dramatic situations. Yet the characters on the court are people. Part of us wants to engage those feelings of hate we reserve for characters in entertainment, but in doing so we feel as though we are casting our feelings on a real person. If you knew LeBron or any other professional player, I'm sure that your feelings of him away from the court will severely differ from those of the person they are when they compete.

    In short…hate away.

    • Zee

      The sad part is that many are unable to distinguish between the two realities.

  • hdavenport

    Yes. BUT. NBA players don't think of themselves as playing characters. They read what people say (recall BRobb's infamous Tony Allen story), and it's not fair for us to force them to separate how we feel about them as players and as people.

    So our rhetoric should probably reflect the way we actually feel: if we don't really want terrible things to happen to LeBron, we shouldn't say that we do. If we do want terrible things to happen to LeBron, then we are, in fact, wrong.

    • hdavenport

      The above is a response to TMC. I didn't hit reply because I'm a dummy.

      • Batman

        i never get tired of hearing the tony allen story

  • TedL

    You've got a good reason to root against him. But that's not the only one. Let me borrow from Omar, with a twist:If you call yourself the king you best not miss.

    • hdavenport

      I had a comment here a second ago that was dumb because I didn't read your comment carefully enough. I deleted it in shame. I agree, a big part of this is that we enjoy mocking people who assume victory and don't get it.

      But I'd still point out that this attitude towards LeBron was in place way before we knew he was going to lose.

  • skeeds

    The Heat seemed to "steal" the hopes of 4-5 teams that went all out to build around one of these 3. No matter how foolish that was. And the way the media presented it it was as if Lebron burned Ohio to the ground. In contrast with other great teamups, this was so overhyped, that it left everyone feeling cheated when 3 of the 5 big names went to the same team.

    10 years ago, when the face of the NBA at the time, Shaq, quit on the Magic to join the Lakers, yeah Orlando was mad, but that was it. Shaq will be loved for eternity despite joining Kobe, and forming a superteam at a time when talent was so thin in the NBA… THAT was scary. Remember those awfull East teams, going to the Finals to get swept by the Lakers? At least now there's a lot of competition…

  • Zee

    The reason I think this article misses it's point is because it focuses solely on LeBron when he should focus solely on the Miami Heat dynamic alone. Why should anyone want one man (instead of a team) to fail? When you make it about one man, it's hard for any individual (LeBron) to not taking it personal and beyond basketball. I've wondered if he has even pondered suicidal thoughts, because for one more to be hated on so much is almost inhumane. Even the governor of Ohio wrote a declaration mocking LeBron after the Mavs won??? When government officials start getting involved and taking jabs at a player, we've allowed ourselves as "fans" to cross the line. There are literally people who wish LeBron dead – and all because he chose to leave. Granted, he left his former team is very poor taste. And they celebrated a championship before they even played one single game. But is that the worst that could happen in life? It made for great entertainment. Wrestling has more twists and plots than any other sports, but maybe it's because we all know its fake that no-one trips. Still, the Heat existing made for one very exciting year in NBA history. It made its mark, and though they didn't win a title, they will be remembered, and probably more than the Mavs victory (sadly).

    I'm glad the Heat lost, but I'm not happy with personal failures. The Heat losing and the Mavs winning as a team was good for the NBA, because it put hope back in TEAMS being the ultimate "title clenching formula." Not a "big 3." And though our C's are dubbed a "big 3," they still have a team mindset as individuals. They're veterans. Whereas Wade, Bron and Bosh are still in their prime at 26.

    So yes, wanting one man to fail, as if he alone held the key to the universe is 1) almost silly (no offense) and 2) somewhat just plain wrong. One man can't win alone. He needs a team. So want the team to fail.

    • hdavenport

      This post focuses on LeBron because he's the best of the three, and because 80% of Heat hate has been leveled at him. You're absolutely right, though. We're much better off directing our negativity toward teams rather than individuals.

  • sdv

    Its funny that we despise the idea of one dominant NBA team now, yet our own team's legacy is built on such a model…

    • Wadefan

      I was thinking the same thing. Bosh, Lebron and Wade is just Boston Celtics light. If Ray, Paul and KG guys got together in their primes they would have had a dynasty. I mean, even as old as they were, if it weren't for the basketball gods inflicting injuries on Perkins and Garnett Boston would have had at least 2 titles (possibly 3, but I doubt the Lakers would lose 3x to the same team) from '08 to '10.

      I don't really like the parity argument either, especially since we just had the best regular season (and playoffs) of NBA basketball I've ever seen.

  • CsFanInArkansas

    "…a hope that he won't run train on the league for years to come." = beautiful.

    also, i'd love to bring my son to one of your orphan baby turtle shelter chain locations…where might i find one?

    • hdavenport

      We have locations in all of America's "turtle towns": Denver, El Paso, Knoxville, two in Montpelier, and 31 in St. Paul. Buthe turtles are currently in heat so maybe wait until fall to bring your son…might be a little loud right now if his ears aren't fully developed.

  • Dave Fritz

    "… LeBron, Wade, and Bosh conspired to stand in the way of that goal"

    And Pat Riley, Mitch Kupchak, Jerry West, Danny Ainge, R. C. Buford, Red Auerbach, Carmelo Anthony and a whole bunch of others didn't? In fact, you could say the same of every fan who equates greatness with championships won.

    The Miami Heat have become the instant New York Yankees, a team to hate because they win so much. Every sport needs a team like that. The only difference with Miami is that they replaced the Lakers and the Celtics without the drudgery of going through all that winning. Miami just achieved it for WANTING to win so much.

  • Patrick

    Von Wafer is dating your ex-wife??? How did that happen and WHY are you jealous?

    • hdavenport

      No, not really. I was just playin’!

  • NHBluesMan

    i really hope the new CBA puts something in place to prevent this from happening again, otherwise we'll end up with 3 or 4 teams fighting for the championship every year, which would just suck. As much as i loved watching the Celtic's bring home 17, and as painful as it was to watch 18 slip through their fingers, it makes the game alot more enjoyable to see other teams win (besides the Lakers of course), and routing for the underdog makes it more enjoyable too. I'd love to see the Thunder or Grizzlies win the next one, and i really want some talent to spread around the East abit more so it isn't so top-heavy.

    On a semi-related note, realistically how many more years do you guys think the Heat can compete like this? Unless they can bring in some young talent, D-Wade will be 34 in 5 years, and i wouldn't be surprised if he has some injury that alters his playing (not wishing any ill on him, just saying that the way he throws his body around, he's bound to seriously injure a knee). And while LeBron is younger, i feel the same about him, however i feel the Heat would suffer more from losing D-Wade than LeBron to a season ending injury.

    • -JP

      the Parity argument doesn't hold a lot of water in my book. In all of the other sports there are only so many teams that can win a title any given season. Thats not as much a problem with the NBA as it is with basketball as a sport, 5 players on the court, allows them to have a MUCH greater effect on the games. There are plenty of teams with a lot of talent in the NBA that have no chance of a title next year, New York Knicks come to mind, more a problem with the sport itself rather than the NBA. Also, who gave the Mavs a shot to win the title this year? Most ppl picked Portland in Round 1.

    • pastelpaul

      Wade has alot of miles on him and has taken too many hits. I think he is bound to start to slide downward. LeBron has never had to really work that hard to be the best so it's a question if he'll commit to improve his game. Bosh has the most upside potential to get better. He got more confident, is not an egomaniac and has a great work ethic. He's a good guy that I think people can relate too because he isn't afraid to be human. It will be interesting to see how they rebound. Le Bron could become re committed or he could go into a shell of self pity. It's kind of 50/50. It seemed too easy for the Heat to get to the Finals this year. They aren't that good. Their roster was full of antique cars and rent a wreck players. They over achieved.

  • c's>heat

    Don't bring up being a racist as a reason to hate Lebron. I don't think racists watch the NBA for a few reasons. But on another note we hated Lebron because of his personality. He's smug, arrogant, selfish and ego-centric. His comments after he lost the finals showed the true Lebron that I hate. I hate Lebron because he calls himself King James when no one deserves that title ever.

    • Indeed I'll hate on LeBron for
      "The Decision" why not just tell Cleveland to trade you instead of leaving them with nothing?
      "The chosen one" ? really so its not down to hard work LeBron?
      "The King" of what exactly?

      Those comments about how my life sucks – really? so i didn't just watch you and you friends fail on the biggest stage in front of the whole world? because you are rich that wasn't a bad day?

      Oh and LeBron how is a Game 5 while tied 2-2 more important than a Finals game 4 while down 3-0?
      Short memory indeed..

  • Chris

    I'm trying to figure out if this is called Celtics Hub, why are there so many articles like this on here? I know Miami eliminated us this past year but don't see them as a concern in the near future.

    • janos

      Hi Chris, is Janos.
      This is celtichub web site NBA, one-stopping shop news best team BOSTON CELTIC as well different news on NBA. Is true, Yankee is more concern near future, then in fall back to NBA and Celtic.

      • I_Love_Green

        Janos has the right answer for all the questions!

        • CsFanInArkansas

          No joke – where the hell are we on Janos getting a regular guest-appearance gig on this site?!?!?!

          I'm looking at you, Hayes…

          • I_Love_Green

            Can you imagine trying to decipher an entire article by him though?!

  • Avinash

    Damn, is Von Wafer really dating your ex-wife? The guy seems like a total jerk, I used to follow his Twitter when we signed him earlier this year and it was full of posts about how he wears the illest kicks and hoe some dude that insulted him has to shop at walmart.

    Personally, I feel guilty for hating on Lebron sometimes cuse after all he is human and maybe he does realize hes made a mistake (notice how he isnt really there mentally during the commercial out takes for the decision).

    At the end of the day though, he bought it upon himself. You cant call yourself the king and then go become a sidekick and likewise you cant label NBA fans witnesses and then insult them at press conferences.


  • James Patrick

    RACIST? please. then i guess we want 80% of the league to fail, including most of our own beloved C's.

    Screw LaBron. He's arrogant and screw D Wade too. And Screw Bosh. There is ONLY one Big 3!

  • I_Love_Green

    So are you mad at Von for dating your ex-wife?

    • hdavenport


      • CsFanInArkansas

        ………who is Von Wafer?

        • CsFanInArkansas

          ^ that's the Jeopardy answer to the clue: I'm an NBA nomad currently employed by the Boston Celtics and most importantly dating Hayes Davenport's ex-wife…

          • Batman

            Nomad? That gives me an image of a tribe of NBA journeymen….

  • NickFaldo

    This article was self-indulgent garbage and anything but funny.

    Some rich gay dude talking about Von Wafer's girlfriend and turtle sex later on in the comments. Wow. Fuck that.

    It was a failure starting with the title. Hayes thinks Lebron is decent. Maybe he is. But no examples are provided. A-Rod saved a kid's life while the Yankees were in town. That's what I'm talking about. What is so decent about Lebron?

    What about his claims of racism explaining some of the Lebron hate? Maybe it's true. I doubt it. Where's the proof? Perhaps Hayes suffers from diarhhea of the mouth?

    Only a true idiot would be terrified of Miami running off multiple championships. This article had nothing on that anyway. Nothing on the salary cap. Nothing on the rest of the Heat roster other than saying they're awful.

    Only an idiot or a conceited white guy could have written this junk. I don't think Hayes is stupid. But he's definitely some form of hack.

    You ever watch a tv show and say that's not funny or ask who could write such garbage? That's this guy.

    • hdavenport

      Just in time for the commenter awards, we have…THE BEST COMMENT EVER!!!!!!!

      Congratulations CBS Golf Analyst Nick Faldo! All that Googling me has finally paid off!

    • jacksobd

      "What about his claims of racism…"
      "Only an idiot or a conceited white guy could have written this junk."

      Hayes, I'm inclined to go with NickFaldo on this one. I mean, he clearly knows what it means to be a racist.

    • I_Love_Green

      Nick Faldo I'm curious as to why you're always so angry.

    • janos

      Haynes i make a dislike on nickfaldo. Is bad post.

      • Morpheus

        I agree with the guy. He's totally right.

  • jonathan

    I hate hearing about Lebron. The guys a choker, Straight up. This is celticshub, not lebron. Stop talking about him like he's on the celtics. Talk about other things, like potential free agent/draft picks.

  • Zee

    Concerning his postgame comment, LeBron clarified that. I know he has made some poor decisions, but we all have. He’s young and his “mess ups” just happen to be under a microscope, where ours are not. Lets stop demonizing people. That says much worse about us.


  • Morpheus

    WOW…Sorry, but the reasons you state Hayes, why people hate LeBron are way off base. And you underrate the effect of The Decision and the impact it had on Cleveland, average NBA fan and basketball fans alike.

    Reason why people don't like, hate, wanna hang "The King" on a lampost like a pinata, has less to do with "racism" or "jealousy", but stems more from his words and actions off the court and his crab dribble, ability to blind the officials when he travels…list goes on.

    • hdavenport

      Agree to disagree. LeBron was in the league for seven years before his popularity abruptly sank, which happened the instant he signed with Miami. I think he's basically the same person off the court in Miami as he was in Cleveland, but there's a huge difference in how he's perceived now. You claim it's about how he handled the Decision, and you might be right, but I don't think he gets anywhere near the hate he's gotten if he ends up in New York, Chicago, etc.

      His traveling is one of my least favorite things about him, too, but it's A) not really his fault that he gets away with it and B) probably not in the top ten things that people tend to criticize about him.

      • Morpheus

        Wrong again. It's more about "how" he left Cleveland and "how" he handled "The Decision". Don't you think, he would've pulled the same stunt even if he decided to take "his talents" to Chicago, NY etc…

        It's not about where he could've played, it's about how he handled the whole Decision BS.

        Name other players that get away with travelling more than Bron does? Superstar treatment. Fans hate that.

        • Batman

          Lebron is the best player in the NBA but hes not the only superstar
          Traveling to kind of stupid to place on one player because THEY ALL TRAVEL
          Rondo travels
          Pierce travels
          KG travels
          Ray travels
          Dwade travels
          Kobe travels
          (name other superstar)
          Literally calling out Lebron makes no sense

    • hdavenport

      By the way, I said that racism and jealousy were NOT the reasons people don't like him. Not sure if you got that, hard to tell from your comment.

  • Morpheus

    I don't have a problem with Miami winning 6-7 championships, because let's be honest ,we want the Cs to win just as much if not more, same with every other fan of an NBA team. I DO have a problem with Wade's bitchiness when he cries foul, yet hardle ever gets called for a fucking technical foul. Double standards if you ask me, since every other player who even looked at an NBA official wrong, after a missed call was called for a tech. It's called the "Superstar" treatment and every NBA fan hates that.

    I like you Hayes, but you're wrong on this.

    • -JP

      I lost A TON of respect for DWade in these playoffs, cheap plays all over the place, mostly the Rondo takedown, and all the flopping in the Finals.

      The NBA should make flopping a tech, that disrespects the game just as much as jawing with the refs a little bit in my opinion

  • I_Love_Green

    Game 7 tonight….lets hope it goes well for us this year.

    • Batman

      Uh yeah….go Tim Thomas! (Am i trying to hard?)

  • I_Love_Green

    Boston= City of the Champs

  • Morpheus

    Go Bruins.

  • -JP

    I don't think comparing the Heat and Celtics, as some have, is fair. Boston traded for their Big 3, not conspired together, years previous to their free agent year to play together.

    Also, I sports-hate LeBron for more reasons than the ones you listed above, I hated the Decision, it slapped an entire city in the face, I hated the Welcome Party they threw for themselves – biggest celebration w/out winning anything of all time, and I hate the way LeBron acts, he is childish, the mocking of Dirk, the celebration after beating the Celtics (in round 2), nicknaming his team "The Heatles" (he realizes there were FOUR beatles???), and him referring to himself as "The King" (come back to earth). For those reasons I want to see him fail.

  • Morpheus

    Bruins 2011 Stanley Cup CHAMPS!!!!

  • lakershater13

    Okay the finals are over and it is officially the off season. If you read everything I was posting the last week or two you will see all i wanted to do was trash a certain player wearing #6. Since the finals are over now its time to move on to the BOSTON CELTICS. This is CELTICSHUB…not a lebron forum.

    Rumors are going around about trading Badley for a top 10 pick in this years draft. Other rumors are that Rondo could be had for the right price. Shouldnt you guys be writing an article about that?

    • I_Love_Green

      Rondo is basically untouchable, and I doubt a team would take Bradley for a top 10 pick.

      There ya go.

      • duggyfresh88

        Rondo's contract (5 years, $11 mil per year) is such a good contract that Danny would be a complete fool to trade it. Go Bruins! The Cup is home!

      • TMC

        This isn't a very strong draft, and I don't think it would be too far of a stretch to couple Bradly with the 25th pick for something in the 8-13 range.

        He's a project, but this Biyombo kid could be a very interesting addition (I'm thinking a serge Ibaka type). Give him a year or two with grooming from KG…I like where that could go.

        • Batman

          Biyombo feels very busty to me

          • CsFanInArkansas

            "feels very busty"…………are you saying the dude has man-tits?

          • Batman

            aw man that was worded weirdly
            I just meant i think he has a high chance of being a bust

          • Morpheus

            Calling you out on this one. BB will be a defensive star, his offense will develop over time since he's only 18, has an incredible work ethic, picked up the game real quick.

            BB is not bust material.

  • Tom

    Who cares about labron! It’s pretty sad that he is in the news way more for losing a championship than the whole team of Dallas is for winning it that’s why alot of people dislike him they have to hear about him aaallllll the time and he’s over rated, I think he proved that this year.

  • James Patrick

    It'll be nice to hang a new banner in the Garden, even though it's not green and white. It just goes to show the brilliance which is Boston sports teams and their fans!

  • I hate Lebron because he is an idiot, straight up. Hated him the day he started playing, though he has amazing talent on the court, his character is just terrible. Sorry, he isn't a king by any means. I'm sure the Heat will continue to humiliate themselves due to his awfulness. Sorry D-wade and Veloci-Bosh.

  • SGK

    wow everyone saying that hating lebron is not a racist act… thats exactly what hayes said! to paraphrase: "if you watch the nba, you are probably NOT a racist" so you if you hate lebron you probably know a thing or two about basketball and sports in general, and you probably don't like him more because of what he stands for rather than what his skin color is. He's a threat, no matter how good he actually is, because he has an intimidation factor. His stock definitely dropped in the past few years, and understanding why has been a constant struggle for me as a fan.

    btw hayes I remember you from high school! howd you get this gig lol

    • hdavenport

      Whoa! Who is this?

      • SGK

        i was a sixie when you were a senior, so you probably won't remember me lol. I'm Kaan.

  • DMaintenance

    Lebron is a WWE style villian in the league, not an actual villian in life.

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