Growing up in Boston, Massachusettes during the (new) big three era was one of the best memories I have as a Boston sports fan. Truth be told, I would consider myself the definition of a bandwagon fan for The Celtics. Basketball was just a sport that never truly drew me in the way the other ones did, but during the playoffs, I was all in on this team.
Watching Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Rajon Rondo, and Kendrick Perkins go to battle with Cleveland and The Lakers was the peak of my basketball fandom. The reason I bring this up is that it was almost sac-religious to admit that you even liked, let alone were a fan of LeBron James during this time.
To the die-hard Celtic fans, wearing a Lebron jersey was the equivalent of wearing a Jeter jersey around Fenway Park, even though I don’t know if you would ever call Cleveland The Celtics biggest “rival.” Even during this time though, I couldn’t help but (in secret) be a closet Lebron James fan. I even bought a Team USA Lebron Jersey because I thought, hey, you can’t not like Lebron when he’s playing for Team USA, right? wrong.
“How can you like him?”
“Jordan is so much better.”
I’ve been such a closet Lebron James fan my whole life. When you think about it, so many guys come up through the national rankings of high school and only about 10% of the top 10 ever make it to the league. This guy came straight out of high-school into the NBA and was an instant super-star. Just to put this as an example, I picked a random year, 2014 at the top 15 high school players in the nation.
Obviously, there are some great players in there, but besides maybe Anthony Towns not a ton of superstars. Players under this amount of pressure can sometimes flame out. Lebron, from the start, wasn’t only on this list, he was touted as the next Michael Jordan as an eighteen-year-old since 2002.
Now, when Lebron James first came into the league, I’m willing to bet you didn’t automatically hate him, and if you did, the only reason I can think of is jealousy. But somewhere along the way it became the “cool” thing to do to hate him. He was constantly compared to Jordan since the first time he laced up a pair of his shoes and stepped on the court. It started with Jordan, then Kobe, then Magic, then back around to Jordan once the debate actually got real.
Lebron in some ways, hasn’t done himself any favors. “The Decision” was one of the most polarizing half hours of television I’ve ever seen. It was unheard of for an NBA player to hold the sports world hostage for a half hour up until he said those famous words, that he was “taking his talents to South Beach.”
Why was it so wrong for Lebron to make a decision to get out from Cleveland with no supporting cast to build a “superteam?” with his friends? The Celtics, in theory, did this exact same thing and yet no one said a word. That’s something I think a lot of people forget, is that The Celtics were the ones who created the model to build a “superteam.” But no one said anything then, because they would be going against Lebron James, so it was okay. The first superteam actually beat Lebron James in the Eastern Conference Finals, but no one wants to talk about that.
After the decision and going to Miami where they actually embraced the “heel” like persona of being villains. Remember Not one, Not Two, Not Three…? You get the point. But had Pierce, Garnett, and Ray Allen said that, the world would have eaten it up. He was cocky and borderline arrogant, I get it. What followed were just that, championships, and the hatred grew. “He’ll never be Jordan now, he switched teams and built a super team, Jordan did it on his own, Jordan made everyone better, Lebron is ruining his legacy.”
In one of the best written pieces that I feel is the best insight into Lebron James’ life ever written in the Sports Illustrated article titled, I’m coming home, Lebron elaborated on what led to the decision to go to Miami, likening it to going to college, because remember, he had never been:
Who are we to hate on Lebron James trying to rewind the clock and have fun in a way he was never able to in the college years? People, out there will always hate what they don’t understand, and to them, this was a slap in the face. I realize this is the era of the superteam now, but Lebron didn’t invent the blueprint, he just got tired of being beaten by it, so he improved on it. Kevin Durant gets a lot of things said about him for doing the same thing, but because he isn’t the player Lebron James is, he somewhat gets a pass. Guess what, under the radar, Oklahoma City also has had two “super teams” with Durant, Harden, and Westbrook, and Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony, and Paul George, but no one says a word about Russell Westbrook because he isn’t Lebron James.
Fast forward to Lebron winning a title in Cleveland (after trading Andrew Wiggins for Kevin Love and having Kyrie Irving) and the hate still didn’t stop. People tore down his titles as meaningless in Miami because of the superteam and yet again put an asterisk next to Cleveland’s because of his teammates. Now don’t get me wrong, I know the areas of Lebron’s game people hate. He flops, he gets a ton of calls, he can be described as not clutch-even now that he has the same amount of game-winning shots as Michael Jordan. Up until this season, people had no love for Lebron and always wanted to see him lose.
Something happened this season though. Lebron, in one of the biggest babyface-turns in the history of the world, became someone people started to like. He became so good and so unstoppable people couldn’t help but start to appreciate the greatness that is Lebron James. Lebron has gone full Kobe Bryant, and is getting better with age.
Lebron is in his Black Mamba phase right now. He knows he is unstoppable.
That debate of Lebron Vs. Kobe? to me, it’s been over for a while, but people are finally coming around. Even Kobe Bryant seemingly acknowledging it by adverting attention the other way:
— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) May 28, 2018
Yes, I think Lebron James is the best player to ever play basketball. But even his worst critics are starting to come around. At a certain point, you can’t deny greatness even though you may not like the person. On top of that, Lebron James has donated millions of dollars to schools, charitys, you name it. He has a children and by all accounts a great homelife. Yet, people will say Floyd Mayweather is the greatest boxer of our generation without recalling his domestic abuse past-or ignoring it. Michael Jordan had a pretty bad gambling issue (Nothing wrong with that), Tiger Woods-we all know the story there, but no one seems to care. Lebron James has done nothing except maybe flop a few times and live up to every hype machine possible-and exceed it. The thing is, people don’t like greatness, because they can’t all acheive it.
But Lebron, for whatever reason, this season is turning everyone on his side, or dare I say even rooting for him:
Bron next week pic.twitter.com/yPXsjQMMUv
— Duane Brown (@DuaneBrown76) May 29, 2018
He’s a 9/1 underdog to win the NBA finals this season and is playing bassically by himself agaisnt four all stars. At the time of this writing, he just put up over 50 points in game one of the NBA finals and lost by 10 because of a George Hill missed free throw and J.R Smith thinking they were ahead and probably blowing the game before overtime.
The numbers don’t lie, Lebron James is having probably the best year of his career and isn’t going to win The MVP, and is most likely going to move to 3-6 in the NBA Finals.
This picture speaks volumes. LeBron James had 51,8,& 8 & basically doubled the production of 2 MVPs & former scoring champs by himself. There’s nothing else he can do, yet ppl will still hold 3-5 (soon to be 3-6) in the #NBAFinals against him in the #GOAT debate like it’s on him. pic.twitter.com/nj45GYdU7d
— Neale (@AbeFroman) June 1, 2018
Prior to this season though, no one would even think of coming to Lebron James’ aid on social media, it was a cardinal sin. The mob mentality always won.
Playoff games w/ at least 35 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists over the last 50 years:
LeBron James: 22
Michael Jordan: 9
Russ Westbrook: 6
Larry Bird: 4
Kobe Bryant: 3
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: 2
Charles Barkley: 2
Steph Curry: 2
Magic Johnson: 2
Wilt Chamberlain: 1
— Tommy Beer (@TommyBeer) June 1, 2018
Lebron James just can’t be great. Everytime he laces up his Nike custom shoes he has to be transendant. Because that’s the standard for him for the level of hate that people have for him. The thing is this season, he is moving past transendant into the best ever, and I’m just glad finally people are coming out of the closet and admitting the greatness that is Lebron James.
It’s gotten to the point where if you say to me LeBron James is better than Michael Jordan, I don’t really have a problem with it.
— Matt Steinmetz (@SteinmetzNBA) June 1, 2018
Now, I realise this is a gambling website, and to tie this love-fest full circle. I have a question for anyone that didn’t make a “Cleveland To Win The East (-110) bet”
He’s been to eight straight NBA finals. Eight. Ocho. 8. “Ate.”
But throughout all the noise, people still find excuses to not bet on him becuase of whatever reason. Likeablity I assume. Jealousy maybe. It doesn’t matter the reason, but the quickest way to gain someones affection I’ve learned is through money. Lebron James for eight years has been gifting people a free winner to win The East. Yeah, you’re going to have to wait a few months to collect, but for the last eight years he’s been coming thorugh with a Christmas-In-May gift as large as you are willing to ask to be doubled in five months. For anyone that’s been following me and my writing or content, you know one of my best sayings is, “You can lose many times betting against a streak, but you can only lose once betting against it.” If something is profitable, ride it until it’s not. It’s the Gambler’s Fallacy all over again in human form.
“The gambler’s fallacy, also known as the Monte Carlo fallacy or the fallacy of the maturity of chances, is the mistaken belief that, if something happens more frequently than normal during a given period, it will happen less frequently in the future. It may also be stated as the belief that, if something happens less frequently than normal during a given period, it will happen more frequently in the future. In situations where the outcome being observed is truly random and consists of independant trials of this belief is false.”
Okay, so what does that actually mean? If a roulette wheel comes up black nine times, what should you bet on the 10th? most gamblers say red, because it’s “due.” However if you have been betting black since spin number 4, you can only lose once betting black until it doesn’t win.
Lebron James has come up eight straight times, and this time the odds were -110 at varying points of this season. To be honest, if you are not betting Lebron James to win the East every single year, outside of hedging situations, there isn’t much help anyone else can give you in regards to gambling.
The cool thing about gambling is no matter how much you’ve lost you can always just bet that all on LeBron and you’re okay again.
— Gambling Podcast (@GamblingPodcast) May 28, 2018
It shouldn’t be this easy, but the reality is Lebron James is making it that easy. He was a game seven +130 moneyline underdog to a 20 year old rookie in Jayson Tatum. I know heindseight is 20/20 but they were +12.5 point underdogs at a time during game seven of live wagering. If you don’t like Lebron James the person, let Lebron James the cash cow into your life, I beg of you.