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In Defense of LeBron James

3:05 PM, Jun 14, 2011 • By JOE QUEENAN
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LeBron James, who choked away the NBA championship with another dismal fourth-quarter performance on Sunday, is the most despised athlete in America, possibly the world. No, make that the solar system. I, like most basketball fans I know, rejoiced when the Dallas Mavericks beat the Heat last Sunday. It was the triumph of the team over a gaggle of hired guns, the triumph of a bunch of selfless unknowns over a galaxy of selfish superstars. Everyone who loves basketball took pleasure in Goliath’s ignominious defeat. This in itself is remarkable because people from Boston and New York and Philadelphia and Los Angeles are not in the habit of rooting for sports franchises from Dallas, particularly since the appalling and repellent Mark Cuban owns the team. To have an entire planet root for a team from Dallas, owned by a schmuck, and led by a native of Germany gives a pretty idea of how much LeBron James is disliked.

LeBron James

Photo Credit: NBA.com

Be that as it may, LeBron James cannot be held accountable for everything bad that has happened in this society in recent years. Much as we would like the villainous star to fill the role of all-purpose ogre, there are many misfortunes that have befallen us that cannot be attributed to the machinations of LeBron James.

Here are just a few examples.

LeBron did not help Iran develop its nuclear enrichment program.

LeBron did not assist North Korea in secretly shipping weapons to other repressive regimes.

LeBron did not cause the subprime mortgage crisis. Well, not all of it.

LeBron has not thrown in his lot with Somali pirates.

LeBron did not come up with the idea of outsourcing customer service calls to India.

LeBron did not tell his wife he was divorcing her while she was in the hospital recovering from cancer.

LeBron did not write "Achy Breaky Heart."

LeBron did not lie about sending Twitter pictures of his crotch.

LeBron did not cause that gaping hole in the ozone layer over Australia.

LeBron did not helicopter into the Arctic Circle and kill a polar bear purely as a lark.

LeBron cannot cause tornadoes.

LeBron did not betray America's sweetheart, Sandra Bullock.

LeBron did not direct and star in Bruno.

LeBron did not try to dismantle Medicare.

LeBron has never played footsie with Hugo Chavez.

LeBron has never referred to Fidel Castro as "my friend."

LeBron did not cause U.S. structural unemployment.

LeBron played no part whatsoever in the rise of the Kardashians.

LeBron did not assure Bernanke that quantitative easing would work.

LeBron did not collaborate with Julie Taymo on Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark?  

In pointing out all this, I am not exculpating LeBron for his ignominious betrayal of the people of Cleveland, nor for his prematurely celebrating a championship his team did not win. I do not like LeBron James, I will never like LeBron James, and every time LeBron James steps onto a basketball court, I will be rooting for his failure.

That said, there are limits to the amount of derision that can be heaped onto a single human being. LeBron is like Judas Iscariot, but he is not in fact Judas Iscariot. He is satanic, but he is not in fact Satan. He may seem like the Antichrist, but he is not in reality the Antichrist. For my money, that role is still held down by Billy Joel. 

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