What's good for the ratings isn't always good for the game
Yesterday in these (web) pages, Allen Barra asked why we—obviously not all of us, but a substantial number—hate the Miami Heat's LeBron James, who last night led his team to victory in the first game of the NBA Finals. Barra offered several unpersuasive rationales for this hatred and proceeded to debunk them.
Do we hate—you know, let's keep things civil and say "dislike" instead—LeBron because he didn't go to the Knicks during last year's free agency? Barra is (I think) a New Yorker and (famously) a New York sports fan, so I suppose it's not completely unreasonable that he'd think this. But the vast majority of LeBron dislikers, myself included, are neither New Yorkers nor New York fans, so that's probably not it. (And no, neither are we mostly Chicago or Cleveland fans, bitter that he passed us over too. Sorry.)
Do we dislike him for The Decision, the overhyped primetime special in which he announced he would be taking his talents to South Beach? This is getting closer, though on its own I don't think it would be sufficient for most of us. But we'll come back to it.
Do we dislike LeBron because he's not Michael Jordan? Well, no, given that taking that position would entail disliking every other active NBA player as well. Still, the comparison can be illustrative. But despite Barra's contention, bolstered by a clip from Bad Teacher, that the primary difference between Jordan and LeBron is the number of championship rings on their respective fingers (six for Jordan, none yet for James), that's really not it either. Again, more on this topic in a moment.