LeBron James is a great player. He’ll make an even better villain.
I haven’t much cared for the Celtics since Bill Russell retired, but I have to admit: I was pulling for them last night. And when LeBron and his South Beach-based talents and his Super Friends managed to muster all of nine points in the first quarter of the first game of the NBA season … well, I laughed out loud.
The NBA built itself on hyping players, but massive overload of the Summer of LeBron and his ESPN-aired Decision and the sheer wrong-headedness of a player this gifted feeling the need to cherry-pick both a new team and an NBA title at the ridiculously young age of 25 left a lot of folks cold. I know. I’m one.
When even commissioner David Stern, who never met a PR campaign he couldn’t embrace, called “The Decision” “ill-conceived,” you know something went bad somewhere. But let’s give the NBA credit: It knows how to play catch-up ball. So Night 1 of the Endless Season began with TNT bringing us the Miami Heat against the Boston Celtics. And the Celtics won. And the Heat looked bad. And I said, “Hooray.”
LeBron had 31 points. (He is, as noted, a great player.) He also had eight turnovers. His new best buddy Dwyane Wade had 13 points and six turnovers. Their new wingman Chris Bosh had eight points and one turnover. Not one made half his shots.
But — and here’s the greater point — the Heat fell way behind early but managed to keep it interesting. And that made it even better. It would be no fun rooting against a demonstrably lousy team, and that’s why LeBron will make such a splendid meanie. Because he’s so good he’ll render every game fascinating, and when ultimately he loses it will be instructive to see what he says then.
Because you just know whatever LeBron and his Super Friends do, they won’t do it quietly. ESPN will see to that.