America, our long national nightmare is over. Last night was both the beginning and ending of an era. Not merely the turning of a page in a book, but an entire new volume altogether. I’m speaking of the Miami Heat winning the 2012 NBA Championship of course, but also about sports journalism.
For the last five years and certainly the last 12 months there has been a line of demarcation in the world of sportswriters. Those who spend as many waking moments as possible slandering Lebron James and the Heat and those who, frankly, do not.
Writers, columnists, bloggers, magazine editors, studio analysts, radio play by play announcers, you name it – all of us have had to pick sides.
Lebron has been the No.1 story in the League for years now – both because of his precocious talents and because he sells ads.
The build up to his free agency revealed the initial fissures amongst the ranks with every sports site/publication asking whether he would stay or leave. The hysteria ratcheted up day after dreadful day, until we finally got to The Decision and then “BOOM!,” a civil war began and only reached its conclusion last night.
I'll tell you from first hand knowledge a lot of media folks wanted the Heat to win just so the narrative could change. It always rang hollow, anyway.
Demonizing a guy because he decided to take control of his destiny, like that’s not the American Dream.
People called him a coward and worse, because he left the only state in which he had ever lived. Then they burned his jersey and said he was a traitor, as if teams don’t trade players every damn year. Writers complained that if he had went to another city – a place with a more hardcore fan base – that he wouldn’t have been judged so harshly. That was always one of the biggest cop-outs. Raise your hand if you wouldn’t leave Cleveland for Miami for a better job, if you had the opportunity. That’s a no-brainer. It was nonsense then and its nonsense now.
They arrived with flair and over-the-top energy and that caused a backlash. Writers used whatever angle available; whatever negative they could play-up was exploited. It was cowardly and shameful.
Remember in 2010 we were belly-button deep in recession talk? Writers went in hardbody and decided the best way to handle the Heat story was to disembowel them.
They joked about how he looked and what kind of clothes he wore and whether or not he was a legit All-Star.
The public, foaming at the mouth, ate it all up. It became the number one story in all of sports. When people cried this postseason about the refs and NBA Commissioner David Stern wanting the Heat to win because of ratings, I always countered that, if anything, Stern wants the Heat to lose again.
This postseason it’s been harder to criticize, so people hedged their bets. A lot of my colleagues won’t admit anything other than how great they are as prognosticators.
Last night I thought about calling them out on Twitter, but then I remembered that I’m a grown man. I don’t play around like that. But the ones out there who bought condos from their Lebron hate money…well they know who they are. And they know what they said.
I’ll wait until I see them in person and then let them know how I feel. Professionally of course.