x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

It is wrong to take pot-shots at Lebron James

Lebron James might be fair game for criticism that he defers to teammates for 11th-hour shots, though that is not necessarily a bad thing.

LeBron James, top, is not even the foremost shot creator nowadays.
LeBron James, top, is not even the foremost shot creator nowadays.

Sports opinion is driven disproportionately in America by an aural assault known as the talk show. Often, it is driven straight into a ditch by irrational hosts of these radio, television and webcast programmes, along with their crackpot co-dependents, the call-in guests.

Both parties leapt out of bed on May 16 sharpening their stabby voices to rant about LeBron James, the most skewered athlete of our time. The night before, James had the nerve to think pass first, as opposed to shoot first, during the closing minutes of the Miami Heat's defeat in Game 2 of their play-off series against Indiana.

Never mind James's remarkable statistics line for the game: 28 points, nine rebounds, six steals and five assists. About all we heard was armchair psychoanalysis of a seriously flawed person - not just player - who supposedly crawls under a rock at crunch time.

James might be fair game for criticism that he defers to teammates for 11th-hour shots, though that is not necessarily a bad thing. As a Cleveland Cavalier, he confronted constant double teams, and are we not taught from the crib to look for the open man?

And now, with all of James's potency, he is not even the foremost shot creator on the Heat. Dwyane Wade, being a guard, is more adept at carving out space, and would be your first draft pick in a round of H-O-R-S-E besides. Credit to James for not going all Kobe-esque and forgetting he has teammates.

LeBron bashers are dually provoked. They cannot refrain from sizing him up against the ghost of Michael Jordan, which is illogical and unfair. The two are different players at different positions, and Jordan was downright extraterrestrial.

Nor can they forgive James for turning his transfer of allegiances from Cleveland to Miami into a self-indulgent carnival act with the inscription, "Taking My Talents To South Beach." So what? He committed a forgivable sin of immaturity, no crime for a guy in his mid-20s, and was betrayed by his so-called advisers anyway.

File it under ancient history. Apologies were tendered, along with sympathies expressed for eternally suffering Cavaliers fans. If James ever again promises multiple titles for Miami, check his DNA to confirm that this is no impostor.

The typical James hater is incapable of recognising a transcendent player gifted with offensive skills rarely associated with someone his size, even if they do not include beating double teams to score late in play-off games.

This just in: James is the leading vote-getter on the All-Defensive Team, chosen by head coaches.

The mud slingers, especially those who traffic in sports talk shows, must have been crushed on the morning after Games 4 and 5. James had a collective 84 points, 28 rebounds and 17 assists, which represents an entire series of work for some forwards.

Imagine if the Heat had lost either narrowly, rather than winning by eight and 32 points, with James eschewing shots. These back-seat drivers would have made Mount Everest out of a molehill behind the premise that going 0-for-5 down the stretch is apparently preferable to 0-for-0.

Come on, people. Lay off LeBron.

sports@thenational.ae