By Opinionated Reezy (Ronald Stovall)
Every athlete in professional sports faces some degree of hatred from fans. A lot of it is well deserved as they lay waste to opposing teams while attaining greatness. One thing that has always been true is that there is one moment that transcends the athlete past the hate. The moment where you would say, “I don’t like the player, but in this moment, I respect what you did.”
That moment for Michael Jordan was when he led the Bulls to a third championship in a row, the coveted three-peat. Taking a franchise that never seen the door to the finals previously and cementing them to greatness. I have my reservations for MJ, but in that moment, I had to give him respect.
It was championship number four for Kobe. It wasn’t pretty or memorable from a performance standpoint, but the fact that it was accomplished without Shaq, I had to give him respect.
You would think the moment for LeBron would be the third championship and first for Cleveland. Yes, Kyrie took the final shot that sealed the deal, but LeBron led the Cavaliers to that moment being statistically better than anyone on the floor and serving as the general the team needed then. No, that wasn’t it. Surely it would be the moment LeBron became the youngest player to hit 30,000 points. Nope! Because Lebron decided to take a moment on Instagram to reflect on what he has achieved people now feel they have the right to continue the hate. Why?! No one deserves this level of hate, but it may be signaling the inevitable truth. It may be time to say goodbye.
This one probably shouldn’t bother me as much, but it does. I am fully aware that through the message LeBron is speaking to the reality that he should have been a statistic. A kid raised by a single mother in Akron who used Basketball as his escape. A kid who had to learn to be a man among men who proclaim to not be role models. A kid who should have been begging for scraps is the one who is now providing that chance to succeed for others.
30,021 pts, 7,860 assts, and 8,067 rebs is merely the icing on the cake to what will go down as a legendary career for kid coming out of High School, which only a mere handful can also claim. No one should be able to find a way to hate on this, and yet people find a way. Nothing is good enough. Longevity, not talent, is the reason. The true reality is that we no longer appreciate the game anymore.
Alas, it pains me to type this, but the writing is on the wall. It may be truly time to hang up the shorts after 15 strong years and tons of memories. Maybe the Instagram post was a prelude to concluding chapter. As they say, you don’t appreciate what you have until its gone. Maybe it is time to truly realize what we will miss.