Monday, June 13, 2011
Updated: June 15, 7:53 AM ET
LeBron wasn't built for New York
By Rob Parker
Whew! New Yorkers were lucky.
As much as fans here wanted LeBron James to lead the New York Knicks to a championship, it was the right decision not to come to the Big Apple.
If he can't take the Heat (sorry for the pun) in Miami, he never would have been able to handle the scrutiny and criticism of playing in New York.
Never before has a player with so much talent come up so small in a pressure situation. In crunch time, with less than five minutes to go and the scoring margin five points or fewer, James scored zero points. Sadly, he had help -- with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh -- and still wilted, especially in the fourth quarter when the NBA Finals were on the line.
The only thing worse than his performance in his second trip to the Finals without getting a ring was his shot at fans.
At the news conference, after the underdog Dallas Mavericks won the title in six games, James was asked about all the fans in NBA America who openly rooted for him to lose.
James, already sports public enemy No. 1 after he bolted Cleveland via free agency last summer, bashed and belittled fans as though they were nothing and didn't matter.
It's one thing to be upset. It's another thing to handle losing with class.
James went as low as you could go, basically telling fans to go to hell and that he was still better than they were even though he lost.
"All the people that were rooting me on to fail, at the end of the day they have to wake up tomorrow and have the same life they had before," James said. "They have the same personal problems they had today.
"I'm going to continue to live the way I want to live and continue to do the things that I want with me and my family and be happy with that."
It's amazing that James, 26, still just doesn't get it.
His arrogance is bigger and better than his play on the court. Eleven months ago, he was a beloved player and always seemed to say the right thing for a player thrust into the spotlight at 18 years old. Most thought he had the chance to be as good as, if not better than, Michael Jordan.
James still can't figure out why fans turned on him after "The Decision." That's when James had a TV special to announce his free-agency decision to leave Cleveland and "take my talents to South Beach."
It wasn't that he left Cleveland. People understood. He was a free agent. It's his right to move to another team. It was just the idea that James wasn't willing to work for a title, work to be the best we ever saw.
Now you know why he didn't come to NYC. He didn't want to challenge.
Instead, James decided to take the easy way out. He just wanted to be one of the guys instead of "The Guy."
That's the reason most fans didn't want him to win his first championship ring. No one wants to see someone get there on the coattails of others, and that's what it looked like.
Even though James thinks anyone not rooting for him is a hater, it was sad to see him stoop to such a level and bash the people who make the game the game. James, on this night, acted as though he was the king and the fans were mere subjects not worth his time or energy.
"They can get a few days or a few months or whatever the case may be on being happy that not only myself but the Miami Heat not accomplishing their goal," James said. "But they'll have to get back to the real world at some point."
Sadly, James isn't living in the real world.
No matter how many cars and millions he has, he still doesn't have the thing he wants the most -- a championship. That's not to say it won't happen. James has been in the league only eight years and has probably a decade to finally be the last team standing.
James represents oversensitive players who can't take criticism or fans not pulling for them. Some of the greatest players both expected it and relished the fans of their opponents to despise them. Everybody isn't going to root for you. Just ask Jordan. People love him now but not at the time he was winning six championships.
On three, New Yorkers should all give James the Bronx cheer. He deserves it.