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NBA Miami Heat

A Miami Heat Hater’s Defense of LeBron James

LeBron James haters

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

One would think that as sports fans, watching perhaps the most gifted athlete on Earth would be thrilling and something we’d all enjoy.

Such is not the case, however, with LeBron James.

Now most people I know will probably “hate” me for writing this, but it needs to be said. This needs to happen. A true hater of the Miami Heat (myself), needs to stand up for LeBron.

Why, you ask? Because he doesn’t deserve all of that hate, and fans need to learn to appreciate greatness when they’re watching it, before it’s too late and he’s gone. And what better time to take on such a task than after one of the greatest individual performances of his career?

Look, I’m a huge Chicago Bulls fan. Granted, I’m only 21 years old, so I didn’t get to watch Michael Jordan and any of the championship teams. All I have are highlights and history to go off of. I became a real fan of the Bulls when they were awful in the early 2000s.

I got my first taste of greatness on my favorite team once Derrick Rose was drafted and grew into an MVP. Of course, we all know how the past few seasons have turned out; but during the time before that, I loathed James and the Heat. I still hate the Heat. I despise the fact they were able to buy championships by joining superstars together. It’s the same reason I hate the New York Yankees and think baseball is the most unfair major sport in America.

Even though I still abhor the Heat, my feelings toward James have changed.

Now, it wasn’t until the garbage television that was The Decision that I found reason to dislike LeBron. Him leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers, his hometown team, like he did without even telling them until he announced it in front of the whole world was the worst decision he could make.

But, if you take away his poor choice right there, everything else he has done and stood for has been morally excellent. His charity work is unbelievable, he’s a loyal husband and father, he’s never in trouble with the law or drugs or anything else negative. He’s actually an excellent role model to anyone who’s a fan of the game, but haters try to bash him even on a personal level all the time.

And that’s just off the court; don’t get me started about his on-court attributes.

I saw a comment somewhere today while searching the Internet that said Jordan was leagues ahead of James talent-wise. Really? Leagues ahead? I whole-heartedly agree that MJ is the greatest player to grace an NBA court in the history of the league — both for his talent and amount of accomplishments.

However, from a numbers and talent standpoint, James is equally as impressive. In fact, James is an even more gifted athlete than Jordan ever was, and is probably the most impressive specimen physically — size, speed, agility — to ever walk our planet.

But look at the numbers because they don’t lie:

Jordan: 30.1 points, 6.2 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 2.35 steals and 0.83 blocks per game while shooting 49.7 percent from the field, 32.7 percent on three-pointers and 83.5 percent on free throws.

James: 27.6 points, 7.2 rebounds, 6.9 assists, 1.7 steals and 0.8 blocks per game while shooting 49.6 percent from the field, 34.0 percent on three-pointers and 74.7 percent on free throws.

To say that Jordan is “leagues” or any other astronomical distance above James just as a basketball player is ludicrous. What I’m trying to show is just how good LBJ is based on how comparable he is to the GOAT. And his greatness needs to be appreciated by more than just the bandwagon Heat fans — because we all know how pathetic Miami’s fanbases are for their sports. Am I right?

Back to a serious note, though. LeBron James is our era’s MJ. He’s the best player in the league, and when it’s all said and done, he could very well be on the NBA’s Mount Rushmore like he said his goal was.

While it’s OK to despise the Heat and their team, just remember to take the time to appreciate greatness. After all, you don’t want to be the hypocrite 20 years from now telling your kids or grandkids how amazing LBJ was while you’re bashing him left and right today.

Brian Neal is an NFL and NBA contributor for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @brianneal23, “Like” him on Facebook and add him to your network on Google+.