The morning after the Blazers’ 107-100 overtime loss to the Miami Heat, the story in the media isn’t Portland’s performance against the Big Three. No, all anyone’s talking about this morning is this ass-slap by LeBron James after he hit the game-icing three-pointer in overtime (video courtesy of Blazersedge). Naturally, the reaction to LeBron’s end-of-game, crowd-baiting histrionics has been polarizing to say the least. Needless to say, it’s embarrassing to Blazers fans to be shown up in their own building by a guy who went from generally well-liked to completely unlikeable this summer faster than you could say “Taking my talents to South Beach.” I’ve seen plenty of people calling LeBron classless and all manner of other things. On the flip side, I’ve seen people applaud LeBron for embracing his newfound role as the NBA’s chief villain. And this may be unpopular with Blazers fans who are, like me, still recovering from the game that got away last night, but I’ve found myself in the latter contingent.
I’m not a LeBron fan in the slightest. I have close friends who are long-suffering Cavs fans, and I thought The Decision was as ill-advised and self-serving as everyone else did. But at the same time, I think it’s good for the league when there’s a unifying villain. Baseball is always more compelling when the Yankees are winning, because it gives other teams an “evil empire” to rally against. And we haven’t had a team like that in the NBA since at least Jordan’s Bulls. LeBron goading the Rose Garden crowd to boo him last night after ripping a winnable game out of their hands plays directly into this. Is he a douche? Of course. But I’m not mad at him for it.