BY ROB BHATT
When the Miami Heat snatched the 2013 NBA championship from the jaws of defeat — thank you, Ray Allen — from the San Antonia Spurs, the loss only strengthened the resolve of the entire franchise that came up short.
And when those duly-inspired Spurs snatched that title back earlier this year, it only strengthened the resolve of former Heat star LeBron James — to run all the way back home to Cleveland. I’m assuming that he didn’t actually take the basketball from the game that clinched the Heat’s defeat home with him that night, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he did.
I have to confess: I’m a little old-fashioned when it comes to sports-related matters. I was raised to believe that the best thing to say when you lose is, “Wait till next time!” If that loss comes in the last game of the season — regular season or postseason — you say, “Wait till next year!” And then you work your tail off to get better, make your team better and win next time. This is what builds character, you are led to believe, if you believe in such things.
And this is the one of the main reasons why the 2014 NBA champions should go down as one of the greatest teams of all-time in any sport (disclaimer: as a Lakers‘ fan, it pains me to give the Spurs any props.)
When you finish as the runner-up, you can choose to tip your cap or not tip your cap to the champions. But it seems inexcusable to say, “Oh, yeah! Well, I’ll show you. I’ll abandon the teammates that I lured to South Florida to win championships, and beat feet back home.”
And yet, for some reason, the national media is portraying LeBron’s homecoming as some sort of feel-good story. I’m not buying it. You could make the case that LeBron’s latest “decision” — though abdication might be a better word to describe the self-imposed exile of this self-proclaimed “King” — is more offensive than his original free-agent Decision. At least back then, he raised some money for a worthy charity. This time, he just rolled up his tent and skipped town on teammates and a city where he over-promised and under-delivered championships.
“When the going gets tough, the tough get going,” an old axiom says.
Unfortunately, LeBron James will probably never understand the true meaning of that saying.
Sports fan Rob Bhatt lives in Seattle.
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