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How Will LeBron, Miami Handle the Heat?

Jul 11, 2010 – 1:00 PM
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Jay Mariotti

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If you haven't noticed, America needs villains and jerks in daily life, pariahs to despise and pummel in the comments sections of social media. It apparently makes people feel better to vent, and now, though I'd recommend a terrorist or shady politician, the new targets are LeBron James and the Miami Heat. For seven years in a searing spotlight that branded him as "The Chosen One," LeBron had been hailed as an upstanding, gracious basketball ambassador who never found trouble and seemed much older than he was, right down to the deep wrinkles on his forehead.

Who ever thought that he would become a douche bag for the masses? And that his two new mega-teammates, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, would face the unaccustomed wrath of joining The James Gang, an unholy trinity converging in a hedonistic world -- "South Beach," as LeBron mumbled before he could say "Miami" -- and intending to spend at least six seasons as a prearranged superteam ratcheting up the sports-hate quotient beyond that of the Yankees?

It's a good thing the Heat, with architect Pat Riley and owner Mickey Arison watching proudly, threw a nightclub-style party for James, his mates and 13,000 delirious fans on a weekend night at American Airlines Arena. LeBron needed to feel some love and do some dancing, knowing his jerseys were being burned throughout northeast Ohio and that his move was being savaged everywhere -- from the psycho rant of Dan Gilbert, the owner he left behind in Cleveland, to current and former NBA players and even sociologists who speak of him like a fugitive on the run. Never have three stars of such high magnitude colluded to join a team simultaneously, a power conspiracy that is supposed to be impossible because of the league's salary-cap structure but not when the principles agree to take less money. Acknowledging that the barrage of invectives has wounded him, James embraced the scene as he and his partners in crime wore their Heat uniforms, no doubt to plant images so fans will rush out and buy jerseys.
Filed under: NBA, Sports

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