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Fan opinion: LeBron James gives Gregg Doyel a comeuppance
It's great to occasionally see an athlete put the haters in their place, especially truly annoying ones like CBSSports.com National Columnist Gregg Doyel, whose hatred of James and the Miami Heat has colored his coverage of them throughout the year; the color being yellow, as in yellow-journalism.
Yet, Doyel isn't alone in his hatred of LeBron and the rest of the boys from South Beach. Haters of this amalgamation of superstar talent are inevitable and legion, using more justifications for their loathing than there are fish in the ocean.
Ever since Dwyane Wade(notes) and Chris Bosh(notes) announced on July 7, 2010 they would team up in Miami, and James made his "Decision" the following night he was taking his "talents to South Beach" to join them, the long line of those joining the queue to cast aspersions on the "Three Kings," and James in particular, has seemingly been endless.
Some claim they hate LeBron because of his decision to leave the "hometown" team he'd all-but promised a title; although most of these almost surely have to be jilted Cleveland Cavaliers fans. Others assert they despise him because of the "Decision," a public-relations nightmare that nevertheless benefited the Boys and Girls Club to the tune of millions of dollars (something his detractors too easily dismiss).
Still others claim they've never liked him, saying he epitomizes the preening, "look-at-me" generation of players of the past decade, which rings true on the surface, but fails in epic fashion when examined a bit more thoroughly. For LeBron has never truly been about the "me-first" attitude with his game.
In fact, as was pointed out here on ESPN, and is evident in Doyel's sickening, hate-filled screed, LeBron is criticized in spite of his unselfishness. To Doyel, James not scoring a load of points in a Heat win he was absolutely integral to isn't nearly as impressive as Dirk Nowitzki(notes) lighting up the scoreboard in a loss by the Dallas Mavericks he was ultimately responsible for with his last-minute turnover and final missed fade-away jumper at the buzzer.
To Doyel, Nowitzki's performance was heroic, while LeBron's was cowardly. To Doyel, Dirk deserved all the praise he could heap on him, calling Nowitzki the "biggest superstar in this game" for his exploits in Game 3, despite any real knowledgeable basketball fan's realization D-Wade, LeBron, and Bosh were the shining stars on the night with their offensive and defensive prowess; clutch shots, timely dishes, and amazingly athletic defensive containment.
In Doyel's view the Heat "escaped" the Mavericks with their 88-86 victory, when the truth is Dallas was lucky not to have been blown out in the game; and would have been if the officiating had been even remotely unbiased.
For despite Wade, James, and even Chris Bosh relentlessly driving to the basket throughout the game, despite the fact the Heat dominated the Mavericks in terms of points in the paint by a huge margin because they were the aggressor and not passively settling for perimeter jump-shots (something they relegated Dallas to with their smothering defense), Miami was called for 27 fouls in the game to their opponent's 14.
I couldn't even count the number of times a Heat player was hacked on the way to the basket without a single whistle being blown, some of them so blatant and egregious (such as Jason Kidd(notes) poking Bosh in the eye) it made me wonder if Miami was destined to have the game stolen by the referees.
I believe anyone watching the game without an axe to grind, would readily admit that if the officiating was called fairly, the Heat ends up blowing out the Mavericks on their home-court by at least 15 points, and possibly more than 20, which would make Nowitzki's 34 points seem almost comical.
Instead, Doyel has elevated those 34 points, many from questionable calls on the Heat, to the status of legendary. To him, Nowitzki's missed jumper at the buzzer isn't worth remembering, and his untimely turnover with 30 seconds left and a chance for the Mavericks to tie or take the lead isn't even worth mentioning. No, to him, Dirk's performance in a losing effort is what merits burning into his memory banks.
He furthermore ignores LeBron's contributions in these 2011 NBA Finals, including Game 3, which Yahoo! Sports Kelly Dwyer adequately details in his latest article on the issue.
No, he doesn't just ignore them, he mocks them, dripping with sarcasm in his response to James' legitimate criticism of his question about why LeBron's been "shrinking" in the Finals in which James said, 'Å"I think you're concentrating on one side of the floor. I'm a two-way player. All you're looking at is the stat sheet."
Doyel's response? "Ah, yes. The whole stats-are-for-losers argument."
No, Gregg, stats aren't for losers. They're a great way to get a grasp on part of what took place on a court, or field, or in a ballpark. However, those who rely on them exclusively in order to form their conclusions about what happened in a game, while ignoring what they're seeing right in front of their face, are losers.
Of course, that begs the question whether such people are even capable of seeing beyond the basic offensive stats. It begs the question of whether they're able to see LeBron's contributions that won't show up in the boxscore, even if they're happening in front of their very eyes.
The answer, obviously, in the case of Mr. Doyel, is an emphatic NO!. For he apparently wasn't able to see it, which is why he's unable to grasp the simple truth that James isn't concerned with his stats, but only with winning.
As ESPN's J.A. Adande speaks about in his latest piece, Michael Jordan repeatedly passed on shots and dished the ball to John Paxson in the final quarters of the 1991 NBA Finals (Michael's first). I'm just guessing here, but I rather doubt Doyel would have anything critical to say about "His Airness" if he were writing about that championship series rather than the 2011 NBA Finals.
Better yet, Gregg Doyel shouldn't be writing period, for there's no place for the color yellow in journalism, just as there's no place for it on a battlefield, football field, baseball field, or basketball court.
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All stats and information taken from personal notes and verified at Basketball-Reference.com and Yahoo! Sports.
Read more by Daniel Barber aka Hotnuke at TFS Sports.
*Daniel Barber has been a fan of all Miami teams since he was a child or since their inception having been born right above Miami.
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