First, a confession.
There was a time not long ago when I hated LeBron James. Well, not hate. That’s too strong, too toxic. More like—fiercely disliked.
This was in July 2010. LeBron was a free agent, fielding offers from several teams, including my beloved Bulls.
I wanted him to sign with Chicago. And for a moment, it looked like LeBron and Dwyane
Wade might just do that.
The thought of LeBron and D Wade joining Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, and Luol Deng? Man, my friends and I couldn’t stop talking about it. Practically started picking our places in Grant Park for the championship celebration.
LeBron announced he’d reveal the lucky team he’d sign with on The Decision, a live television show he was producing.
So, like every other basketball junkie, I anxiously sat through 30 or so minutes of puffery, until LeBron got to the point. Said he was taking his talents to . . .
“South Beach” to “join the Miami Heat.” And, by the way, D Wade was going there with him. Chris Bosh, too.
In the aftermath, The Decision got roasted for being self indulgent. But for the record, I had no problem with The Decision. My problem was with the decision LeBron announced on The Decision.
If he had said, “I’m taking my talents to Chicago,” I’d have declared, “Great television. Get that show an Emmy!”
For the next three or so years, I turned on LeBron, passionately rooting against him and the Heat. It wasn’t personal. Just the envy of a spurned basketball fan who didn’t get his way.
At some point, my envy faded. And by the time LeBron returned to Cleveland I was openly cheering him on.
I was happy when his Cavs beat the Warriors to win the championship in 2016. Not as happy as if he had won it with the Bulls, but pretty happy nonetheless.
And I’ve been cheering him on ever since. Especially last week when he hit a fade-away jumper to break Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s record for points scored in a career.
In fact, people, I’m a little embarrassed to admit—I got all choked up when he hit that shot.
I think it was the realization of all the time that’s passed to make it possible for him to play so many games and score so many points. Also, the sight of Kareem joining LeBron at half court to hand him the basketball, as if he were passing the torch.
Talk about time passing. Kareem was one of my basketball heroes when I was in junior high. These days I’m a fan of his writing. I subscribe to his newsletter. Great stuff. Very political. I urge you all to subscribe.
Anyway . . .
I hope LeBron stays in the game long enough to score another 10,000 points. He says it’s his dream to play on the same NBA team as his son. Maybe the Bulls will draft Bronny and LeBron will come to Chicago after all.
But even if that never happens . . .
Congratulations, LeBron James, from the nutty Bulls fan who spent several years rooting against you.