Apparently the Miami Heat lost a basketball series, and everyone seems to be enjoying it. In the aftermath, LeBron James has been crucified. I’m actually surprised that his teammate, Dwayne Wade, has yet again emerged unscathed, because in a lot of ways he’s as big a douche as LeBron.
Dirk Nowitzki was visibly sick during Game 4 of the NBA Finals. Prior to Game 5, Lebron and Wade were caught mocking Nowitzki’s sickness in front of cameras. After Dirk called the two “childish” and “ignorant,” Wade responded with this gem:
I actually did cough. And with the cameras being right there, we made a joke out of it because we knew you guys were going to blow it up. You did exactly what we knew. We never said Dirk’s name. I think he’s not the only one in the world who can get sick or have a cough. We just had fun with the cameras being right in our face about the blowup of the incident, and it held to be true. You blew it up.
You see? It’s the media’s fault. Let’s analyze this bullshit line by line:
I actually did cough.
And with the cameras being right there, we made a joke out of it because we knew you guys were going to blow it up.
Yes, they were going to blow up you mocking another player. Why wouldn’t they? You’re two elite players openly mocking another elite player and questioning the legitimacy of his injury. And by the way, that’s exactly what you did. Don’t act like you were trying to provide some kind of commentary on the media’s overreaction to how stars are treated in the NBA. Neither of you are stupid, but you’re not that clever either. Your comedic talents rise to the level of rap skit and ascend no further.
You did exactly what we knew.
This is one of those vague, meaningless statements that sounds like it means something. It might as well have been ripped from a fortune cookie.
We never said Dirk’s name. I think he’s not the only one in the world who can get sick or have a cough.
This is a good point. In actuality, Dwayne and Lebron were mercilessly mocking Edward Melch of 2415 Springdale Lane in Ann Arbor, Michigan, who recently came down with the sniffles.
We just had fun with the cameras being right in our face about the blowup of the incident, and it held to be true. You blew it up.
This is a standard Clinton-esque reframe of someone trying to refocus blame after being called out for some bullshit. Unless Dan LeBatard crammed a hand up one of your asses like a puppet (not that unlikely, actually) then no one in the media forced you to make fun of Dirk.
Wade’s reframe is indicative of LeBron’s favorite deflection of his critics: “Don’t like me? You’re just a hater.” It’s a defense mechanism for the overly-sensitive. If you don’t like what someone says, you can just accuse them of being a hater as if that invalidates their criticism. Problem is, at least in LeBron’s case, the haters are right. LeBron James is the most athletically gifted basketball player I’ve ever seen, but he is not on a track to be one of the all-time greats like Jordan, Bird, and Magic. He’s coasted on his superior athletic ability and naturally high basketball I.Q., but has not refined his game in any way to take it to the next level. As a basketball fan, that’s incredibly frustrating; what’s even more frustrating is his steadfast refusal of him or Wade to admit that anything they’ve done off the court is wrong.
It’s like the Heat have settled into some weird kind of asshole purgatory where they want to act like jerkoffs but still be loved by everyone. They pull some immature stunt that offends people, then when called on it immediately backpedal and provide some kind of lame explanation for their actions that shifts the blame to their critics. Which would be fine, except they keep doing it over and over again, so their excuses ring hollow. It would be like Darth Vader blowing up Alderaan and saying, “If you had given us the location of the Rebel Base sooner, you could have saved your planet. It’s a shame all those people had to die because of your direct actions. You did exactly what we knew.”
Going forward, the Heat can do one of two things:
1) Stop doing stupid things that insult people.
2) Own up to the fact that they are assholes and embrace it. LeBron should have told Cleveland, “I woulda left sooner if I could.” Wade should have shown up to Game 5 in a fake neck brace and told reporters that he was “pulling a Dirk.” And Bosh…well, he can just continue to be a mildly effective low-post presence who happens to also be an obviously closeted homosexual.
Just know that whatever you choose, you’re all assholes and everyone hates you, and that isn’t going to change. But that’s okay. Every great story needs a villain. But if you’re going to do it, own your villainy.