This is one of those great articles that has, like, ten layers of wrong. (Don't click on the link unless you're really, really concerned that I might have fabricated something in this post; I don't want to give him any extra traffic.) The concept behind the article is ridiculous in the first place. As Chris W put it when he linked me, it's about a controversy which doesn't actually exist. Then Gregg takes that ridiculous concept, which should be pretty easy to make a coherent article about- like how murdering people is bad or how eating food is a good way to stay alive- and somehow fucks it up. It's fascinating. Really fucks with your head when you try to parse it. Reading stuff written by Gregg Doyel is like sitting in an asbestos-enclosed room with a slow gas leak while drinking lead paint.
Recognize LeBron's greatness now... or your own stupidity later
Hmmm, you think? I don't know. Being in the neighborhood of averaging a triple double for a season makes you pretty good- but great? I don't toss that word around lightly. If we're willing to call LeBron "great," who else do we have to include for consistency's sake? Sounds like a slippery slope to me.
In any case, now you see what I mean regarding the ridiculous concept here. That being: LeBron is good! And don't you tell Gregg otherwise! Now, you'd think it would be really easy to write an article about this topic. And yet, you'd think wrong. Because Gregg immediately tries to leap across a gaping void of logic by implying that people who are tired of hearing about LeBron don't think LeBron is really badass at basketball. And thus the diaster.
All of you silly people who are tired of LeBron James, do me a favor. Maybe you're a sportswriter or a blogger and you've written something like my friend at the Orlando Sentinel, Mike Bianchi, wrote on Monday.
Go read that article if you have time- although it contains a bunch of lame Reillyesque pop culture references, it's pretty well reasoned and takes one great cheap shot at NBA players and their propensity for fathering a lot of children. Take that, Shawn Kemp! It's 2009, but we're far from being done with making fun of you! But anyways, for the purposes of this post, Mike makes its clear in that article several times over that he thinks LeBron is awesome. Really, really awesome. Mike is just sick of the hype surrounding LeBron (and specifically his buzzer beater from game 2 of the Cavs-Magic series). That's his thesis. He also tosses in some stuff about LeBron not having won a title, which is a bit of a criticism; but the majority of the article is just about hype.
Being unable to separate someone's distaste for the public's/media's treatment of a subject from that person's public/media-independent opinion of that subject is something most high school graduates should be capable of doing. This makes me wonder if Gregg is capable of other basic thought processes. Does he always remember to put his pants on before his shoes, or just sometimes? Can he open a tightly sealed jar without resorting to temptation and smashing it against the counter to get at the delicious pickles inside?
Maybe you're a reader and you've gone onto a message board and nodded along with something like you'll find here at CBSSports.com on Monday.
Among all the moronic sports columnists out there, only Gregg is a big enough dumbass to actually complain about what random internet commenters say. I honestly feel bad for the guy.
Here's the favor I need: Print out whatever you wrote. Print out whatever you read. The story, the message-board post, whatever. Print it. And save it. And 20 years from now, go back and read it.
You'll be humiliated.
You'll mostly be humiliated for actually following through on a stupid and pointless task Gregg Doyel assigned to you twenty years ago.
Because by then it will be obvious: The game's greatest player was right in front of your eyes. And you missed it.
Somehow, by being annoyed by all the coverage LeBron is getting, you'll have missed all the coverage about how great LeBron is. Quite the paradox.
The same thing is happening in golf. Tiger Woods is the greatest player in that sport's history. He hasn't played long enough to wipe every last vestige of Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer from the record book, but he will. He'll get there. And when he does, when Tiger Woods is officially and not just subjectively recognized as the greatest golfer of all time, who will you be? Will you be one of the people who recognized his greatness -- I don't care if you appreciate it, just recognize it -- or will you be one of the people who didn't?
1. So people like Mike Bianchi, who clearly recognize LeBron's greatness (odds that Gregg didn't actually read that article: pretty good) but are tired of hearing about him, have failed to recognize his greatness?
2. Wait, which athlete are we talking about again?
This is like being alive in the year 25. If Jesus was really around back then, healing dead people and turning water to wine, imagine being one of the negative knuckleheads who didn't believe.
Boy, would your face be red in the afterlife!
Did I just compare LeBron to Jesus?
Looks like I did.
At least I didn't compare LeBron to Tim Tebow. That would be blasphemy.
If you didn't read Mike Bianchi's article, he made several jokes about the similarities in treatment received between LeBron and Tebow. So apparently Gregg agrees with that sentiment- that the media's gladhanding of Tebow is (also) incredibly tiring at times. But for some reason Gregg is still mad. At someone. For something. I guess that straw man over there must have looked at him funny.
This story isn't just about LeBron. It's about you. Take some personal inventory and try to decide, if you're one of the growing number of people sick of LeBron James, why that is.
Because the star-obsessed 24 hour sports media cycle won't stop fucking talking about him and analyzing every single thing he does?
OK, at this point Gregg goes into how a discussion about how the fact that LeBron hasn't won any titles is not a legitimate reason to not acknowledge his greatness. It's still a bit of a straw man, as anyone who brings that up as a detriment to LeBron's credentials obviously understands that it's a "wait and see" situation. No one is saying "he hasn't won a title AND HE NEVER WILL, EVER." They're pointing out that he hasn't won one- yet. It's not like we're comparing Karl Malone or Charles Barkley to other all-time great PFs. We're comparing a guy who is still in the prime of his career with guys like Jordan and Magic who are done. But in the interest of not repeating myself 50 times about what a mental midget Gregg is, I'm going to pick and choose pieces of tardery from the rest of the article.
Put it this way: Tim Duncan won four NBA titles. Wilt Chamberlain won two. Does that make Duncan twice the player? Please. Chamberlain is the dominant big man in NBA history. Duncan is a very good player, maybe one of the top 25 at any position, ever. But between the two, there is no comparison.
I like his use here of a simple multiplier to determine who is "X times" better than someone else. As if anyone is saying "Jordan won six titles, and Duncan has won four- therefore Jordan is 1.5 times better. But if Duncan wins another one Jordan will only be 1.2 times better."
Imagine this. Imagine LeBron switching places with Los Angeles' Kobe Bryant. Give James a frontcourt of Andrew Bynum, Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol. LeBron and those Lakers would have gone 78-4.
Wow. The Lakers won 65 games this year. So now LeBron is worth 13 more wins than Kobe over the course of a season? Man, I among all people think Kobe is an asstwat, but I think that's a little much.
The greatest player in college basketball history, Pete Maravich, never won a title.
Hmmm. You can't really just say that Maravich was objectively the greatest player in college basketball history. You can make a case for Lew Alcindor and Oscar Robertson, among others.
The greatest quarterback in the NFL, Dan Marino, never won a Super Bowl.
Hmmmmmmmmmmmm. You also can't objectively say that. You're can make cases for Montana, Elway, Unitas, and, dare I say it, that guy who used to play for the Packers. It's just not that clear cut.
The greatest baseball player, statistically, of all time -- Barry Bonds -- never won a World Series. You can argue Bonds' legitimacy, what with the steroid question, but you cannot argue that he was the best player in baseball for almost 15 years. By a large margin.
Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. Again, no. Not to this extent, anyways. I'm more of the opinion that Bonds was probably the best player in the game for about 10 years. I mean, he was pretty amazingly ridiculously super duper awesome. But even if you want to extend the window to a full 15 years, presumably from about 1990 to 2004, you fucking definitely cannot say he was the greatest, over that whole time period, by "a large margin." No. You can't. You have to factor in his declining defense, especially during his four best offensive years (2001-2004). You have to factor in the presence of other all-time greats whose peaks coincided roughly with Barry's, like Greg Maddux, Sammy Sosa, and Jeff Bagwell. Was he better than those guys? Almost definitely. (Maddux has the best case against him, but it is obviously tough to compare pitchers and hitters. Whatever.) By a large margin? No. And not for all 15 of those years.
Look at where this article has gone. From simple and obvious premise, to tragic use of the straw man to make an argument unrelated to the premise, to mildly relevant side argument full of outrageous and completely batshit-crazy claims. How did we get here? It's staggering to think about. Again, I worry about the problems Gregg encounters while trying to write coherently seeping over into other parts of his life. How often does he set his house on fire pouring himself a bowl of cereal? What's it like to go somewhere in a car he's driving? How many pedestrians does he usually hit? Does he ever reach his intended destination before the car runs out of gas or the engine block explodes? It really seems like anything is possible with this guy. He's a fucking train wreck. A complete and total fucking train wreck.
So here we are. LeBron James. An annual threat to win the NBA scoring title, as he did last year, and one of the best passers in the game. And the second-leading vote getter for the 2009 NBA Defensive Player of the Year. He does it all, and he makes it look easy.
And you're sick of him?
Great as he is, yes, some people are. And because I have a brain I can understand why.
Or, more galling, you don't even understand what you're watching?
No one you've mentioned or referred to has said this. At any point. Ever. This isn't even a straw man, it's an air man.
Maybe the problem isn't LeBron. Maybe the problem is you.
Sounds like a line you'd use during an alcoholism intervention.
Try watching lacrosse. Because you can't handle basketball.
Burn! Burn burn burn burn burn! On everyone who doesn't love hearing about LeBron all the time! But especially on lacrosse! Out of the way, NASCAR and pro wrestling. According to Gregg Doyel, lacrosse is taking your place at the top of the "sports for dummies" list. Presumably for some LeBron-related reason.