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Finally LeBron IS the King

June 23, 2012 - Al Stephenson
As I have stated many times, I am a Cleveland fan. Indians, Browns, Cavaliers - I root for all three. I am not a fan of NBA basketball, but did follow the sport somewhat when LeBron James played for the Cavs because there was the possibility of Cleveland getting that long awaited championship. Alas it did not happen before James decided he had a better chance to get a ring elsewhere.

As a Cleveland fan, I fully expected LeBron to go to another team when he got the chance. It's what athletes do. They make so much money these days that many times the choice of "where" to go comes down to the jewelry. The media makes such a big deal about being a champion to validate an athlete's place in history that having a chance to win a title may well be the only factor come free agency time. That however is another story that I will get to soon.

For now, as a Cleveland sports fan, I would like to congratulate LeBron James on achieving his dream. Today LeBron can say he is an NBA champion. Also today, Cleveland sports fans can move on.

I don't think LeBron James is a bad person. On the contrary I believe he is basically a very good person. The method he chose to leave the Cavs may not have been his idea. I'm guessing he was shocked at the hatred it caused, but hatred is indeed what that dog and pony show elicited from Cleveland fans. Most of us rooted against the Heat as much as we ever rooted for the Cavs last season. This year - for me at least - the feeling was more like who cares. He now has a ring, he can be called the King and Clevelanders can only hope that the woeful Cavs will turn things around.

Perhaps what is most disturbing about the whole situation is the media's constant harping on the need for an athlete to win a ring to be considered "one of the greats" of his sport. Who decided that winning a title was the only way to validate a career? It is such nonsense. In a team sport, one athlete cannot possibly be held accountable for a team's success - or even failure for that matter. For proof of how silly the whole notion is, let me give you the following exhibits.

Exhibit A - Ernie Banks. The Hall of Famer spent his entire career with the Chicago Cubs. If you follow sports at all you know playing for the Cubbies means that Banks has exactly zero World Series rings. Are you going to tell me that Ernie Banks cannot be considered one of baseball's greatest because of a lack of a championship? Again the word is nonsense!

Exhibit B - Robert Horry. The man made a nice living playing in the NBA for some fifteen seasons. He frequently came off the bench because he was not good enough to be a starter. A good defender and pretty fair three point shooter, he was more than a journeyman to be sure, but isn't likely to make the Hall of Fame. He does however have seven (count 'em SEVEN) NBA rings. He had the good fortune of playing for the Rockets, Lakers and Spurs in seasons where they won multiple titles. If we are going to use championships to validate an athlete's career, then Robert Horry is one of the NBA's greatest.

I think you know what word I'm thinking about.

The view from my seat suggests that the hurt has passed. I can now focus all my attention on rooting for Cleveland teams - you know, like the first place Tribe!


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