I am a fan of LeBron James, and by extension, that makes me a fan of the Miami Heat. I get a lot of grief about that and have been called a “bandwagonner” more times than I can count, so I decided that I should explain my reasons for being a Miami Heat fan.
First of all, I have lived in Alabama my entire life, which doesn’t have an NBA team. I also have no personal connection with any team, and no one in my family was ever much of a basketball fan before I came along. Therefore, I was not raised to have any loyalty to any particular team. So, when a player came along that enthralled me more than any other player I had seen, I latched onto to that player regardless of what team he played for or would play for in the future. I remember watching LeBron James’s first NBA game in 2003. It was the Cleveland Cavaliers vs. the Sacramento Kings, and it was played in Sacramento. I had never seen a player that had so much natural basketball talent and yet was so unselfish and such a good teammate.
I distinctly remember a play that happened in the first half of that game. LeBron stole the ball from one of the Sacramento players. He had a wide open fast break dunk opportunity, but as he was running down court, he noticed that he had a teammate trailing and didn’t have any defenders chasing him. He stopped at the free throw line, waited for his teammate to catch up, and handed the ball off to his teammate for a free dunk. After watching that play, my LeBron James fanhood was set in stone.
Now for the LeBron James haters out there. There are a lot of them, and I know several. Most of the haters that I know say that they hate him because of “The Decision” and how he left Cleveland to team up with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami. I will admit (and so has LeBron) that he didn’t handle that situation as well as he could have. However, if the worst thing that he has ever done is hold an overly produced, glorified press conference, I would say that’s a lot better than most people can say (much less a professional athlete). How many NBA players can you think of that have been the best player on their team, led their team to a championship, and have never had any legal trouble or any negative tabloid attention? I would be surprised if anyone could name more than 3. I have followed LeBron’s career as closely as anyone, and I have never seen him do anything that would lead me to believe that he is anything other than a loyal husband, a great father, and a fantastic teammate. I can’t even remember there even being any stories of him going out and partying very much.
I am a LeBron James fan, and I’m not going to apologize for it. I was a fan of his when he was in Cleveland, I’m a fan of his now while he’s playing for Miami, and I will continue to be a fan of his if he ever decides to play for any other team. If that makes me a bandwagon fan, then so be it. For the record, I’ve learned quite a lot about the Miami Heat organization over the last few years (as well as attending 3 playoff games in Miami), and I hope that LeBron stays in Miami. Even if LeBron does decide to go somewhere else, I will follow him to whatever team he signs with, but I think I will probably always keep an eye on the Miami Heat.