By Guest Contributor Kristen Wright
On June 15, the Boston Bruins defeated the Vancouver Canucks 4-0 in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals. And on the previous Sunday, June 12, the Dallas Mavericks beat the Miami Heat 105-95 in Game 6 of the NBA Finals to secure the franchise’s first championship. The media has celebrated both victories as a triumph of grit and hard work over finesse and pure talent.
The streets of Vancouver may have erupted after the Canucks’ loss, but the team’s most potent offensive weapons – twin brothers Daniel and Henrik Sedin – were relatively silent throughout the Finals. The twins combined for two goals, three assists, and a minus- 4 rating during the Finals, but multiple writers came to their defense when commentator Mike Milbury referred to them as ‘Thelma and Louise’ (an inaccurate and offensive reference to their poor play) during a broadcast. Miami Heat superstar LeBron James has his defenders, but much more ink has been spilled over his shortcomings. While Dallas role players like JJ Barea and DeShawn Stevenson played over their heads, LeBron failed to live up to his hype.
Drafted 1st overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2003 NBA Draft, James was supposed to be the savior of a struggling franchise. He initially appeared to deliver on this promise, leading the Cavaliers to the playoffs every season between 2006 and 2010. The Cavs even made the 2007 NBA Finals, where they were swept by the San Antonio Spurs.
Last summer, LeBron became a free agent. After being courted by numerous NBA organizations, he announced his decision to join the Miami Heat during an hour-long special entitled The Decision. The program was widely ridiculed as a lengthy and unnecessary spectacle, and basketball greats like Michael Jordan argued that it was inappropriate for LeBron to join a team of rivals in an attempt to chase a championship.
But other criticism of James has come from the hockey world. Sam Fels, a Chicago Blackhawks blogger, wrote a piece on his blog Second City Hockey entitled “Viewing LeBron” (on NBC Chicago later cross-posted the piece under the title “What Hockey Fans Think of LeBron”). In his piece, Fels argued that hockey fans are turned off by the “bombast” of LeBron’s free agency and of the basketball culture in general.