January 10, 2012; Oakland, CA, USA; Detail view of the back of Miami Heat small forward LeBron James (6) during the third quarter against the Golden State Warriors at ORACLE Arena. The Warriors defeated the Heat 111-106 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

NBA Finals 2013: Let's All Root For LeBron James

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Is it permissible to be rooting for LeBron James in these NBA Finals? If you’re a Miami Heat fan or a shameless bandwagon hopper (note: the two aren’t mutually exclusive), you’re undoubtedly pulling for King James to topple the San Antonio Spurs. That’s perfectly understandable and defensible. What if, however, you’re just a casual basketball fan? You’re supposed to be rooting for the Spurs, right? I mean, they areparagons of virtue, teamwork, and “doing things the right way,” a woefully underrated franchise whose decade-plus of dominance, not to mention their roster containing multiple future Hall of Fame inductees, TOTALLY makes them a surprising Cinderella story.

My guess is that many unaffiliated fans are cheering for the Spurs, partially because said fans don’t want to endure the avalanche of praise that will be bestowed upon Lebron James in the event of a Miami win. However, I think a LeBron James loss would create an even more unbearable media frenzy. It’s truly the lesser of two evils.

Do people really want another cycle of the same idiotic, open-ended, and unnecessary questions regarding LeBron and his legacy: “Just how elite is King James, anyway: ELITE elite, or just ho-hum elite?”; “Does LeBron James have the mental fortitude of a frightened, crippled pug?”; “How many chokes could LeBron James choke if a choke-choke could choke choke?” Imagine the sheer number of hours First Take will devote to dissecting LeBron’s psychological composition; it will be a blood-bath of hyperbolic, pointless statements.

Imagine all the hipster-y sports columns pondering crap like if LeBron’s lack of performance in the face of tremendous expectations parallels our societal inability to handle a post-industrial economy. Do you really want to read a year’s worth of that? If LeBron James doesn’t win a title this year, such cringe-worthy analysis will permeate sports journalism so thoroughly and deeply that illiteracy will seem preferable to the ability to read.

If the Spurs defeat the Heat, the next few days will be torturous.

Day one: articles about if LeBron’s style of play (you know, the style that has earned him four MVPs) cost his team the series.

Day two: articles wondering if Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade deserve more blame than LeBron.

Day three: articles commenting on the previous articles, saying that even if Bosh and Wade under-performed, LeBron should’ve demonstrated more Jordan-ian leadership and taken over.

Day four: maybe an article acknowledging the Spurs won (eh, I guess it’d be kinda relevant).

Day five: articles about how everyone is talking about LeBron and not the Spurs, which then gets spun into an article about how we can’t help but talk about LeBron since he is an omnipresent celebrity.

Day six: a virus akin to the one from 28 Days Later breaks out in the ESPN offices, but thankfully the building is quarantined and the only people that die are the ones responsible for those stupid articles (yay for small miracles).

Listen, I’m not naive enough to believe that a Miami Heat win would nix all obnoxious articles. There will still be people wanting to engage worthless debates, and those people can’t be stopped. However, I do believe that if LeBron wins the championship, sports pundits won’t be able to lean on their last-minute-deadline crutch of spouting “controversial”/”against the grain” opinions regarding LeBron’s status amongst the best players of all time.

There would be fewer contrived debates, fewer questions about if LeBron is really as good as people claim he is, and less undercutting of what he’s accomplished to drive page views. At the very least, such debates/questions would lose most of their traction and credibility. People have already gotten too much mileage out of arguing the pros and cons of LeBron James, and anything that eliminates or reduces that mileage seems desirable to me.

So if you’re not a fan of either team but find yourself cheering for the Spurs because that seems like the “right” choice, take some time to consider the implications.

Yes, all the gushing over LeBron grows tiresome, but even wore is the incessant nit-picking of his game/psychology. As a basketball fan, do you want to endure another year questioning LeBron’s “clutchness” every time he makes a mistake in the fourth quarter? Do you want another year of people reiterating LeBron’s playoff shortcomings as if that reiteration adds something remotely new to the discussion?

I know I don’t. As much as it pains me to say this, I think rooting for the Heat is the way to go.

So there, LeBron, you have my support. I’ve done my part. Now figure out how to stop Danny Green from decimating your title chances.

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Tags: Lebron James Miami Heat San Antonio Spurs

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