Unlike Others, King James Can't Handle Being Hated
This justifiable King James bashing continues Pat Riley's biggest dream, but it adds to LeBron's worst nightmare.
Riley loves it, all right. He has something else for the narrative he is trying to slam-dunk into the psyche of his Miami Heat players, and that is the following: They hate us. Not only will we have to overcome the rest of the NBA this season, but we'll have to conquer that ever-growing mass dribbling toward us that is 5.98 sextillion tons.
That's the weight of the earth, by the way. Thus we have Riley unleashing the old us-against-world thing.
Hey, it worked for the Bad Boys.
As for King James, he's never been here before, which is despised by more than a few folks -- especially around Lake Erie, where he once was hugged the most. So can he function as a universal villain?
I don't know, but I'm guessing probably not.
The guy hasn't exactly been Jordan-like with consistency when under pressure, and now James will try to function at a high level while spending the first of his eight NBA seasons as a verbal punching bag. He has no one to blame but himself. Then again, you also have Riley, the sly guru of the Heat who spent weeks, months or maybe years maneuvering in the shadows with James and Chris Bosh.
The superstars bolted their original teams as free agents this summer to join Riley and Dwyane Wade in South Beach, and everybody involved said the formation of the Heat's Big Three wasn't premeditated -- even though evidence and common sense said otherwise.
To worsen matters, James held the world hostage through ESPN with "The Decision" in prime time when he officially announced he was leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Heat.
Among those saying in June that the whole thing reeked were former player turned TV comic Charles Barkley along with general manager Otis Smith and coach Stan Van Gundy of the Orlando Magic. Still, it wasn't until a few days ago that Riley decided to yell his indignation over the tongue-lashing of the Heat by critics.
Not coincidentally, Miami's training camp starts this month -- as in, wasn't this lovely timing to help Riley's narrative?
About Riley's indignation ...
"I take a little umbrage to some of the things that came from people in our game who, all of a sudden, have become the moral conscious or moral authority on the decision of every team or some individual might make," he said, probably trying to stifle a chuckle during his conference call last week with South Florida writers. "I know one thing: Our team will be ready. And I think that's the way we can answer all the critics."
To translate: Riley rushed to a secluded spot, leaped toward the heavens with arms raised and screamed "Yesssss" when the Heat bashing started, increased and exploded.
Added Riley to those writers, "Charles Barkley, to me, went way, way, way over the top taking these personal attacks. Calling these guys a bunch of punks is a personal attack. For him to say that is wrong."
Yeah, well. If LeBron were Kobe, then LeBron would do something about it by going nuts on the court through the end of June while taking his teammates along for the ride. But LeBron isn't Kobe.
Kobe feeds off the negativity.
Kobe wants the negativity.
For verification, Kobe has five world championships to LeBron's zero, and Kobe has prospered as the game's best player despite everything -- his celebrated feuding with Shaq, the question about the Los Angeles Lakers' legitimacy as a force with Kobe and without Shaq, the rape allegations that Kobe survived, getting ripped in a book by Lakers coach and icon Phil Jackson and the tired mantra that he is too arrogant or something.
So Kobe already is that player for the narrative that Riley is hoping that LeBron becomes.
LeBron isn't Vick, either. Despite that dogfighting mess, Vick has shown his resilience. He has survived nearly two years in a federal pen, all those animal rights protesters and himself (you know, that nearly career-ending incident this summer involving a shooting at his birthday party). Not only that, he will start at quarterback in the NFL for the first time in four years when he does so on Sunday for the Philadelphia Eagles.
You also know T.O. and Chad are crazy but tough.
While Owens keeps brushing off the self-inflicted arrows slung his way by moving from controversy to controversy and from team to team, Ochocinco keeps stirring the pot with silly words, tweets and actions to motivate his feet to run faster and his hands to catch better.
Tiger is LeBron. That's because Tiger also hasn't been here before after spending most of his career as the perfect son. And then it became known after he crashed his SUV into a tree outside of his home last Thanksgiving that he was far from the perfect husband. His golf game has been missing ever since that crash, the revelations of his various affairs and his pending divorce that eventually became final.
So it's like this for Riley: To fulfill his dream and to make his narrative more than just a bunch of hot air, he has to keep LeBron away from Tiger and expose him to others among the Hated Six.
Maybe something will rub off.
Follow Terence on Twitter at @TMooreAOL.