Sonn: Leave LeBron alone

BY BARRETT SONN | JUNE 18, 2014 5:00 AM

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On Sunday, the San Antonio Spurs finished off the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals, much to the delight of San Antonio residents … and the rest of the world. The Miami Heat are probably one of the most hated sports teams ever, with the exception of anything from New York. Most of that hate is focused on LeBron James because of a mistake he made five years ago.

Back then, he was on the Cleveland Cavaliers and was about to enter free agency. People were running over each other trying to figure out where he would sign. Thanks to some tenuous advice, LeBron decided it would be a good idea to make a national TV announcement, forever known as “The Decision.” Not only that, but a large party was held after LeBron, Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade teamed up to make a Miami Big Three. At that event, LeBron infamously guaranteed seven titles — holy cow — during his time in South Beach.

We all know how that went. To this day, LeBron has been paying for his cockiness, getting scrutinized for every single thing he does and says. The vitriol has been particularly harsh in the anonymous world of the Internet, where trolls roam the land.

Recently, the scrutiny reached an unacceptable level when, in Game 1 of the NBA Finals, LeBron had to leave early because of cramps. The criticism immediately poured in, as did the inevitable comparisons to Michael Jordan’s “Flu Game.” Apparently people forgot Jordan himself got stomach cramps during an NBA Finals game and had to leave. People also conveniently forgot how debilitating cramps are and how pain tolerance and mental toughness is irrelevant when the body decides to simply stop functioning.

What makes the prolonged hatred for LeBron even more inexplicable is the moronic selectiveness used by the general public to judge athletes and public figures in general. LeBron is, by all accounts, a model individual. He’s unselfish on the court (to a fault sometimes), and he has no problems off the court. He’s never been accused of sexual assault like Kobe, he’s never committed adultery like Tiger Woods, he’s never killed a bunch of dogs like Michael Vick, and he’s never been a murder suspect like Ray Lewis.

Yet all those individuals are more accepted and respected than LeBron. How does that make sense at all? What is the code of morals and ethics used by the average American?

LeBron recently explained that he doesn’t care what the general public thinks. I believe it’s both a truth and a lie. Over the past few years, it’s undeniable that he’s built an extremely thick skin against all the haters. Have you noticed, by the way, that LeBron never reacts in a negative way to his widespread condemnation? He takes it all in stride, which shows more maturity and tolerance than most of us can take credit for.

You can deactivate your Twitter account during the playoffs, you can leave the TV off, and you can ignore social media. But in today’s world, you’re going to hear about the current trend. The trend for the last five years of LeBron’s life has been for people to mock him unfairly and to take his greatness for granted. It’s a damn shame, really.

If that’s the way he gets treated, maybe all people should be put under the microscope for their minor mistakes. If you think it’s OK to treat a human being like that for a simple social faux pas five years ago, you need to get off your high horse before you get hurt — or maybe it’s better you get hurt so you learn a lesson.

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