LeBron's hell began with the utterance of eight words: "I'm going to take my talents to South Beach." The hubris of the now-infamous "decision" stunned the basketball world and left the city of Cleveland paralyzed with shock. What followed was a series of admonishments from the basketball community. Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert expressed his disappointment with a letter criticizing LeBron, a letter that was also infamous as it was written in comic sans (an internet no-no). Fans of the team burned LeBron's jersey throughout Cleveland and the rest of the basketball world chided LeBron for embarrassing Cleveland in such a public way.
Such was a low point for LeBron James, heralded at a young age to be the next Michael Jordan. During his formative years, Lebron always stood out. When he started playing high school basketball, his games were televised. Before his senior year of high school he had already been on the cover of ESPN and Sports Illustrated. Entering one of the best drafts in NBA history, as an 18 year old, Lebron was chosen first by his hometown team.
Considering the circumstances of LeBron's formative years, it is more of a wonder that people were surprised that LeBron was immature. After all, he spent much of his life being adored and entered the league with a silver spoon in his mouth.
Even after his first public relations catastrophe, LeBron had not learned his lesson. His promise of eight championships in a Miami left even more questions of his character. In a sports world that only values champions, LeBron had not won anything meaningful. He had several individual trophies but in order to make such bold declarations, he needed to first win a championship. Following this blunder, even more media scrutiny followed.
This was nothing new to LeBron James. During his finals loss to the Spurs, many in the media questioned his ability to shoot, criticizing his tendency to fade away when shooting the basketball. They wondered why a man of such extraordinary talents chose to pull-up and shoot instead of driving the ball towards the basket. Following the loss in the 2011 finals to Dallas, questions emerged about his ability to "close" at the end of a basketball game.
Then the 2011-2012 season happened.
LeBron proved his critics wrong. While improving his jump shot, he shied away from shooting jumpers as much and cut down on his three pointers-thus maximizing his considerable strengths. Those questioning his ability to close were silenced as LeBron led the Heat to a five game romping over the talented Oklahoma City Thunder in the NBA finals
And now LeBron has struck gold again. Unquestionably the best basketball player in the world, LeBron lead the charge as the best player on the best team in the tournament. Whether the opponent was Argentina, Lithuania or Spain, Team USA looked to LeBron to lead the way. After winning a championship and delivering back-to-back gold medals for the United States, LeBron's basketball sins are at last cleansed.