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Russell, of Maplewood, N.J., e-mailed this yesterday. "Hey, Jimmy, even though I'm 16, I hate LeBron almost as much as you do. Here's my blog post I wrote after Game 4. Check it out."
I have to admit the e-mail got to me a little because I really don't hate LeBron James. Sure, I write about him a lot in Hot Clicks, and I put him on a milk carton, but that's the gig. The truth is, I'm disappointed by James, but I don't hate him. When LeBron came into the NBA, I thought he was going to be the next Shaquille O'Neal. And by "next Shaquille O'Neal," I mean a dominant player on the court who doesn't take himself so seriously off it, and a superstar with a fun personality who fans can't help but be drawn to. And, if you remember, that's how things went for a while. He sang and danced as Bobby Brown on the ESPYs, he hosted Saturday Night Live and made funny commercials like this one.
But then that damn "Decision" happened and in one painful hour, all the good will was wiped away. The personality was completely erased. He instantly became a top sports villain, and it wasn't because he left Cleveland. I don't think anyone should begrudge him that. It was for hijacking ESPN for an hour (although the network deserves equal blame because it allowed it), saying he did so to generate money for charity (which he could've just given without the stupid TV show) and being so nonplussed by the whole spectacle. He then put the cherry on top of the sundae with the ridiculous "celebration" later that week. From that moment on, the fun was gone. Unless you were a Miami Heat fan, you had to root against the team.
The ironic thing about that is in the end, I owe LeBron a thanks. Because of his transformation, he's provided Hot Clicks (and serious sportswriters) with endless amounts of material, whether he succeeds or fails. And when Game 5 tips off tonight, every person who watches will always have one eye on LeBron to see what he does. That's what happens when you become a sports villain. And fans and media always need a villain.
1) Earlier this week, I went with a picture of Emmanuelle Chriqui over which model?
2) What did a Hot Clicks reader buy for Stephanie McMahon and HHH as a wedding gift?
3) Which MLB team recently kicked out a fan for promoting his website on a sign?
4) Indians pitcher Chris Perez recently did a video interview with which WWE Superstar?
5) Which University recently unveiled a purple and silver field?
6) During my podcast with Rich Eisen, he gave me a Yankees trivia question about a left-handed pitcher. Which pitcher?
UPDATE, 2:06 p.m.: Contest is over. Zach Darden is the winner. Answers were 1) Miranda Kerr; 2) Cake pan; 3) Mets; 4) Jerry Lawler; 5) University of Central Arkansas; 6) Lee Gutterman.