I will say it up front: I hate LeBron James. I hate his quest to become a "global icon" and I hate his cocky attitude. Everything he does is annoying to me. I was visibly upset when he stole the show at the All-Star Slam Dunk Contest 2 years ago, only to back out and not even compete last year. It was a ploy for attention, because he's an attention-grabbing, me-first kind of guy. I hated him even more when he walked off without shaking hands against the Magic.
I take delight in his failures, and love all the negativity that resulted from "Game 5" against the Celtics. Instead of taking the blame (like MJ, Magic, Bird, etc. would have), he was defiant. Then he had a pretty bad game last night, despite what his triple-double indicates - he shot 8/21 FG and had 9 TOs to go along with his gaudy numbers. It was like he was forcing the triple-double to make a point that it wasn't his fault. It's his team, and it's his fault.
I have often made my hatred for LeBron known, and so I am frequently asked the obvious question: "What will you do if the Bulls sign LeBron this summer?" And the answer is complicated ...
DC (another BBS contributor) recently summarized my thought process on twitter:
@DanFXC: I hope the bulls don't even make lebron an offer. But when they do I hope he signs. I'm OK with this hypocrisy.
As a die-hard NBA fan, I watch a lot of basketball. I recognize talent, and it's obvious that LeBron is the best player in the Association. (I might technically argue that Kobe is a better basketball player and LeBron is the best athlete playing basketball, but that's not the point.) LeBron is awesome. I went to game 3 of the Bulls/Cavs series a couple weeks ago, and it was incredible. I hated every single second of it, but LeBron was ridiculous. Just so we're clear, I get it: he's great. So would I want the best player on my team? Seems dumb to say no. But I hate him so much, how can I possibly say yes?
I will cheer for the Bulls. I will hope they win every game, just like I do now and always have. But I will never love LeBron the way I love those 1990s Bulls players: MJ, Pippen, BJ Armstrong, Jud Buechler, Horace, Rodman, Will Perdue, Craig Hodges, Cliff Levingston (the list goes on and on ...) and current Bulls D-Rose and JoaNoah. I will never love LeBron like that. He will never be included in my list of "Top 10 Favorite Bulls' Players" (or even my 'Top 25'). I hate him enough that I can be sure of that.
But my loyalty to the Bulls goes much deeper than my LeBron hate. I was only 7 years old, but I still hate the 'Bad Boy Pistons' for walking off the floor when we completed the sweep in 1991. I still remember being mad at Magic a couple weeks later, when the Bulls whooped the Lakers and tied the 1991 NBA Finals 1-1, and he said (with a been-there-won-that swagger): "You could lose by 1 or lose by 20, it's still 1-1". I grew up thinking that every summer started with a Chicago Bulls Championship parade. I didn't hope we would win, I expected it. (That's how good MJ and Pippen were.) I ran up and down the streets banging pots and pans after Pax hit the "3 for the 3-peat". I followed MJ's baseball career, and defended Scottie after "the migraine". I loved the "Beatles-esque" aura that surrounded the 72-win team with Jordan, Pippen and Rodman. I know exactly where I was the day we drafted Dickey Simpkins. I cried, literally cried, when Phil Jackson called 1998 "The Last Dance." I watched us draft the co-rookie of the year, then trade him after he put up two-straight 20/10 seasons. I even hung with the Bulls when they signed the arch-enemy, John Starks. I was there for drafting BG only to let him walk for nothing, and I still wear my draft-day hat from the night we drafted Tyrus Thomas. I jumped up and hugged my roommate when we won the 1.7%-chance lotto for D-Rose, two grown men hugging and yelling like 5-year-olds.
I've blindly stayed committed to this team for the last 12 years. We have had a couple ups, but many more downs. It's been frustrating and terrifying and awful, but I couldn't be swayed ... I'm a Bulls fan. It's what I am, and it's all I know. I know what it's like to win and win and win (twice). So I have held onto that hope during the last twelve seasons, hoping that we can get to that point again. We've had some steps in the right direction, and could be taking a big step toward that goal this summer. And if signing LeBron gives us the best chance to win (and win and win), I will support that signing and support him, because he will be a member of my team.
He's not my first choice this summer, as I'd gladly take Wade or Bosh instead ... but I will support my team regardless of what happens. Maybe after I spend some time supporting the Bulls, and thus LeBron in a Bulls uniform, I will even begin to stop disliking him. I doubt it, but it's possible. But I know that whatever our starting lineup ends up being next year, if LeBron is on the Bulls, he will be my fifth favorite player in that group.