When Does Questioning LeBron Go Too Far?

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There’s very little preach in Double Dribble. Neither Paul nor J (I) start our names with “The Reverend.” Anymore. We disagree with a lot of nonsense, vociferously disagree, irrationally disagree, humbly disagree, pointlessly disagree, but, generally speaking, we don’t sermonize our disagreement. Permit J (that’s still me) a moment to depart from our typical non-preach to climb atop my high horse.

You can question LeBron’s competitiveness because you think he’s taking the easy way out. That’s your prerogative. I disagree, pointlessly and humbly, but I can accept that you agree with Charles Barkley and Magic Johnson and find the concept of 3 of the top players in the game going out of their respective ways to join forces repugnant. Fine. You can question LeBron’s loyalty because you believe that he owes something more to his fine fans in the downtrodden city of sports sufferers, Cleveland.

What you can’t do, ethically, in my high horse Reverend J opinion, is question the man’s effort and integrity. I’m referring to a recent barrage of comments I’ve read on blogs explaining how LeBron quit on his team in games 5 & 6 against the Celtics in last season’s Eastern Conference Semi-Finals. Of course the first person to make the claim was Cav’s owner Dan Gilbert in his infamous open letter to the fans. But lately I’ve read more and more people positing their opinions that LeBron gave up on his team prior to finishing the playoffs and stating those opinions as indisputable fact.

Okay. Okay, I’ll give it to fans. Fans have that option. Anonymous posters in comments on blogs can say whatever they want. When they spew out indefensible opinion as unarguable fact, it makes them irrational and drains all their words of impact, transforming their online essence into an impotent, lifeless, flaccid brain slug. But that’s okay.

Where my uppity sense of superiority really gets its panties in a craw of a twist is when reputable journalists who I’ve admired for years come out with unsubstantiated supposition that attacks a player’s honesty. I don’t want to go after Kelly Dwyer here. I really like his work. But his latest LeBron article is out of line. In this post, Kelly brings up the issue of LeBron’s injured shooting elbow and for all intents and purposes insinuates that the injury was maybe not such a big deal and that LeBron could have played better if he really wanted to do so.

It looked like there was something wrong with him last spring, but he didn’t have to make it so obvious.

He put up great stats, but unlike the great stats that helped his team win more games in the NBA than anyone else over the last two years, the numbers didn’t really help his team in a meaningful way.

And while the injury may have had a huge impact on his team going out way too early in the playoffs, Cleveland still should have won last season.

WHAT?!? FLABBERGAST! I honestly couldn’t believe I was reading that. LeBron put up a triple double with nearly 30 points and 20 rebounds in game 6, and it wasn’t enough. How much more should he have done? And before you answer know that Kobe Bryant – the heroic Kobe Bryant who won last year’s title heroically despite shooting worse than Ben Wallace with his eyes shut – has never in his career had a triple double in the playoffs. Ditto for Dwyane Wade. Since 1991 the Greatest of All Time managed one playoff triple double.

You getting the point? It isn’t that these guys are doing something wrong, it’s that even though LeBron couldn’t shoot like he normally did or hang onto the ball like he normally would (almost sounds like he had an injury to his shooting arm, huh?), he found a way to impact the game at a level that even great players rarely do. And his effort, commitment and integrity are being questioned. Furthermore, Dwyer asks if we’ve forgotten the elbow injury in the series against Boston, but he seems to have forgotten that it actually occurred in the series against Chicago and was an ongoing issue that improved with rest and deteriorated with usage (and his Usage, by the way, was top 5 in the playoffs even though he was supposedly dogging it and shirking responsibility while completely shutting down Paul Pierce).

Pardon me a moment. I need a ladder to get off this damn horse. And my hair’s all frizzy cause my head’s been up in the clouds. Alright thanks. I’m back. Now if you’re wondering I’m not particularly a LeBron fan. I’m a Celtics fan and a Carmelo fan, so I’ve actually always kind of rooted against LeBron. I thought the LeBronze title he got tagged with after the 2004 & 2006 international debacles was pretty funny. And I AM a Kelly Dwyer fan. I’ve been reading his stuff for a long time. I think he’s funny and smart and knows his stuff. But in this one instance, I really was kind of appalled by the gall of questioning an injured man’s injury in the wake of so much bad press. Maybe it’s the inner Clark Kent in me not liking to see someone getting kicked when they’re down (I even supported Barry Bonds for a while there). Maybe it’s the simple fact that there’s no way to substantiate the accusation and no way to take it back once it’s out there – like accusing a man of cheating on his wife when you’re just guessing on circumstantial evidence. Maybe I’m just a puritanical a-hole. Whatever my problem, I’d like to see a lot less of this type of coverage, and a lot more of this type of coverage:

http://www.youtube.com/v/GlHeCG7IQSg?version=3 Because it always should have been the Age of Darius.

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8 Responses to “When Does Questioning LeBron Go Too Far?”

  1. High Above Courtside Says:

    His integrity and honesty took an unrecoverable blow with his self serving decision to participate in the unmitigated hoax he called ‘the decision”

    • jpalumbo Says:

      See that’s the type of reasoning that let me get away with skipping first period my entire senior year of high school. “Oh, Jason’s a good student who gets straight As. There must be a good reason he’s not here.” Wrong. I was sleeping in and getting my morning coffee on. A man’s behavior is not predicated on past actions, and his past behavior cannot be explained by later actions. Well not always.

  2. High Above Courtside Says:

    Well that is malarky. If it was true why do you feel the need to defend him? How has the ‘South Bitch” gone from one of the most beloved atheletes to one of the most hated? It wasn’t what he did, it was the way he did it.

    Oh and by the way his game 6 triple double was really a quad double—-you seem to forget about his 9 official and 11 unoffcial turn overs which gave the game away.

    • jpalumbo Says:

      You can’t defeat me with circular logic. I wouldn’t bother to defend if the attack wasn’t unprovable conjecture, which, once conjected irrevocably tarnishes the “victim”. Now obviously the ESPN decision was the stupidest, crudest, most ego-centric bit of cruelty that ever managed to raise millions of dollars for the Boys and Girls club, but because a man is an egotistical monster, that doesn’t make him a quitter. If I understand, the thought process behind going the notion that he got so many turnovers sans serious injury is: LeBron cared so little about advancing in the playoffs last year he decided to just start throwing the ball to the opposition? Nothing to do with having a hurt arm that he uses to control his intricate dribbling. And you know this is true because he was a jerk on ESPN?

    • High Above Courtside Says:

      Talk about circular logic? That same “bad arm” also produced the fore-mentioned triple double. Can’t play it both ways man.

      • jpalumbo Says:

        I disagree. Jordan’s only playoff triple double in the ’90s came against NY when he had a badly injured wrist. He shot for crap but helped in other ways. Isn’t that basketball dogma? Injuries take away the ability to be precise, not the ability to give effort – and wrack up rebounds and free throw attempts. Of course after grabbing 18 rebounds, his Bron’s effort is what is in question here.

  3. pmadavi Says:

    We feel the need to defend him because the vitriol against him has been purely emotional, but directed at his game and not his person. Because there is vitriol in the first place, when at most, there should be disappointment. Because a guy who raped a college girl in a bathroom and was suspended 4 games because of it has a higher Q score than LeBron. Because all of it reeks of unfairness, and of holding LeBron to a standard no other player is expected to meet.

  4. jpalumbo Says:

    For anyone confused by Paul’s comment, the alleged rapist he’s referring to is a quarterback and not a shooting guard.

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