I made the random Yankees-Heat parallel to Ryantific earlier today before the announcement, and after James made it official tonight I think the fuzzy analogy started to make sense.
(I also went up to the Yankees-A’s game in Oakland on Wednesday, so Yankee Haters are fresh in my mind.)
Bear with me a moment while I try to explain.
So when Amare Stoudemire announced he was New York bound, and Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh announced they were teammates in Miami, I thought, “OK, that leaves LeBron in Cleveland.”
But the more I thought about it, and learned from Ryantific that no contract numbers had been released by Wade/Bosh and that Jim Gray had landed an exclusive interview, the more it made sense to me.
Miami had encouraged Wade and Bosh to make their announcements a day earlier so that they wouldn’t be overshadowed by James’ hour-long special.
Here’s where the Yankees parallel begins.
Wade, like Yankees SS Derek Jeter, has played his entire career with the same team. He brought a championship to town. They’re the Jordans of their sport, literally, even sporting MJ’s elite brand in recent years.
They are the captains. The towns they play in and teams they play for are theirs.
Bosh? Well, he’s the second-fiddle free agent the Heat picked up because he was the best-available player. Think Bobby Abreau, and most recently Nick Swisher (an ex-Athletic who Oakland fans really rode hard on Wednesday, even though he nearly went for the cycle: and then was voted into the All-Star game) or Mark Teixeira.
Then there’s James, who in Miami and everywhere else in the country will never been a real Miami member. Just like Alex Rodriguez will never be a real Yankee. A-Rod went to New York for one reason, even gave up his true position to do so, for a championship: and a boatload of dough.
Same thing LeBron is doing, minus the dough depending on who you believe. And people are going to hate him for it, particularly in Cleveland where they’re burning his jersey and doing all sorts of crazy stuff just like Seattle did when they lost A-Rod. Only Cleveland cares a lot more because of the curse. Seattle really doesn’t care about anything other than brewing good coffee. And they sure don’t care about the NBA enough.
Two other reasons to make the LeBron-A-Rod comparison, and for Joe Fan to hate on them both? Athleticism and capitalism. Both have more talent than anyone in their respective sport (thanks in part to performance enhancers, but that’s another story), and more money for that matter, too. And all the talk about LeBron taking a pay cut to go to Miami is crap considering the lack of a state income tax in Florida, on top of the added endorsements he’ll be bringing in with more exposure and victories.
Power + money + confidence/cockiness = hatred by fans. Just look at Barry Bonds. Look at what Kobe went through in Los Angeles.
But what makes some of that hate go away? Championships.
- See: Kobe Bryant, going from the outhouse to the penthouse in the eyes of LA fans after winning back to back titles, without Shaq.
- See: A-Rod. I saw a dozen people with A-Rod jerseys in Oakland the other night. I had seen A-Rod jerseys before, I had just never seen anyone (even die-hard Yankee fans) who didn’t like him enough to wear one, especially in Oaktown. But after winning a championship last year, sure enough.
Bonds, however, who never won that title, is still arguably the most hated man in sports.
That was until tonight, when Kings James may have dethroned the now retired Bonds as the most hated man in sports.
Not that you can blame the guy. Who wouldn’t want to leave Cleveland for South Beach (really L.A. East if you think about it). It’s the playa lifestyle, with more beaches, bikinis, bars and booze than you can shake a pimp cane at. AND, they’ve got DWade, who â€“ when healthy â€“ is the best all-around player in the game next to Kobe. Add Bosh and you have a formidable three-headed monster that rivals the Lakers and is probably favored in the East over the aging Celtics.
Will they be better than the Lakers? Tough call. Right now, I, Vegas and much of the country (according to polls on ESPN) say no.
Will they be better come playoff time, when injuries and chemistry make or break teams. Could be. They’re young (all three were drafted in 2003 as underclassmen, or in LeBron’s case, as a prepster), talented and hungry. And any questions about their chemistry may have been answered back in Beijing in 2008, when they first started talking about the possibility of playing together.
Maybe he follows the same path as A-Rod and goes another season or two without a title, but at some point you figure if LeBron and DWade can stay on the court, The King is going to win his ring.
Time to bring back the pinstriped kicks, LeBron.
If the shoes fit, wear ‘em.