Can’t we just be proud of Lebron James?

Can we all just be proud of Lebron James? For Pete’s sake.

He’s practically perfect. He plays spectacular basketball, unlike anybody else plays it. He plays unselfishly. He enjoys his teammates’ success. He plays the best defense.Then when it’s time for somebody to drop the hammer, he’s like Paul Bunyan ringing the bell at that sledge hammer game at the State Fair. He doesn’t get in trouble. He pretty much keeps his mouth shut. He actually seems like a reasonably nice guy. He has been in the NBA for almost nine years, has been one of the most spot-lit players in it the entire time, has been Everybody’s Villain for about three years and yet he has said the wrong thing, what, twice?

He goes to London and leads our country to a gold medal win and with the world watching represents everything good about basketball, about sports, about Americans. After it is over, he posts that photo of himself holding the stars and stripes like a cape and he types “love my country.”

What do you want from this guy?

Cleveland? What do you have to say? You’re still mad he’s not on your team anymore? Go cry me another Great Lake. You know why Lebron isn’t on your team anymore? Because your team stinks. It stunk to high heaven the entire time you had Lebron. You had the best player in a generation on your team and you failed — completely — to benefit from that. You had him playing with Mo Williams and Zydrunas Ilgauskas. And you’re mad he left? You’re surprised? You’re hurt? You should have been burning all the other jerseys, not Lebron James ones.

By the way, do you remember when Lebron actually did sign a contract extension with the Cavaliers? He did. It was in 2006. You had your chance.

Matter of fact, let’s not hear anymore whining out of Cleveland until one of your professional sports teams gets it together. Just one.

And the rest of you. What’s your big problem? You didn’t like when he said “take my talents?” That phrasing bothered you? You didn’t like how the players got to decide where they were going to play?

Are you against free agency?

What, you wanted Lebron to “do it the hard way?” You didn’t think Michael Jordan would have left Chicago to play with, say, Shaquille O’Neal? Well what’s that got to do with it?

WHAT DOES MICHAEL JORDAN HAVE TO DO WITH IT?

You believe Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all time and you will always believe that no matter what and you’re terrified that someone might seriously challenge that notion and Lebron is the greatest existing threat. Is that it? That’s it, isn’t it?

Isn’t it?

Boy, the next six or eight years are going to be rough for you.

Because Lebron is going to win more NBA championships, and he’s going to win another gold medal for your country and he is going to be the best player in the world for at least five more years.

And you’re going to have to deal with that.

Or you could embrace it. You could enjoy it. You could be proud that your country produced the best player in the world, and that he represents you beautifully on the world stage. You could appreciate the opportunity to watch a player unlike any we’ve ever seen in the sport.

Or you can just be mad all the time.

A response to Michelle Beadle’s response to the griping about NBC

I kept off Twitter most of the day yesterday, because I didn’t want the results of the tape-delayed Olympic women’s gymnastics competition to be spoiled for me. I avoided sports Web sites, too.

By the time the broadcast had begun, the results had been spoiled for me in the following ways:

  • A post on Facebook.
  • A Google search for “Olympic gymnastics TV listings” that turned up a headline that read “U.S. gymnastics good as gold.”
  • A tweet, sent directly to me in response to my own tweet asking when the gymnastics was  on, saying, “You mean the one where the U.S. won gold?”

At some point yesterday, Michelle Beadle, who works for NBC now, sent the following tweet:

The amount of whining about tweeting results has become utterly comical. It’s quite simple. Stay off sites giving information. Ex: Twitter

With all due respect, Michelle, it’s not simple. It’s actually quite complicated. I can see how this is easy for you to say, since you’re in freaking London. But what you’re asking the rest of us to do, essentially, is to stay off the Internet for two weeks. I couldn’t even search for the TV listings without having the results spoiled for me TWICE. Let me reiterate: GOOGLE was not a safe place to be. Google.

You’re asking me to change everything about the way I receive information for two weeks or stop complaining. That’s comical.

There is a good defense for NBC’s tape delays, but “just stay off the Internet” isn’t it. You know what it is? I’ll tell you.

“Our ratings are at an all-time high.”

Boom. Done. The end.

I have no comeback to that. NBC is in the business of attracting eyeballs to its programming, and it is doing that better than ever before. Sucks for me that this is working, but I can’t reasonably expect NBC to fix something that isn’t broken. My only response would be an appeal to empathy. Won’t you think of the Internet peasants?

But come on. It is not ridiculous to complain about having sporting events spoiled. The best thing about watching sports is being in the moment with them, and if you’re the kind of person who uses the Internet in 2012 — AND I’M GUESSING YOU ARE — you stand a really good chance of losing that.

And you’d think it was ridiculous, too, if it were happening to you.