The Real Reason You Rooted Against LeBron

Image courtesy of the LA Times

You can’t deny that this was one of the most entertaining seasons of NBA basketball in a long time.  Maybe since Kobe/Shaq, maybe even since the Jordan era.  Rarely have their been so many interesting stories woven into a single season: LeBron’s The Decision, The Big 3 in Miami, The Carmelo Trade, D Rose Youngest MVP in History, I could go on.

Anyway, I’ve been captivated by the NBA Playoffs since they began 8 or so weeks ago.  Again, the story-lines were endless.  It was like a choose your own adventure that I had no control over.  Each eventual matchup better than the last.

By the time the NBA Finals rolled around, I was wholeheartedly rooting for an aging Dallas Mavericks team, that I had no connection to and even less faith that they could beat LeBron and the evil Miami Heat.  But, what I started asking myself two weeks ago, was ‘why’.  Specifically, why was I so wrapped up in these playoffs?  Why was I rooting, so avidly for the Mavericks?  Why did I want nothing more, than to see LeBron choke and go without another NBA title?  And, perhaps most importantly, why did the entire country (except for a few people paying attention in Miami) feel the same way?  Then, right around game 5, it hit me…

These two teams represent something much larger in the psyches of the American public than anyone realized.  The Mavericks, led, by a bunch of aging superstars, all without titles, who battled day in and day out, barely making a peep represent you and me, the hardworking, big dreaming, middle class of America.  We identify with their plight on a deep level, putting in the work while still waiting for that big return we always thought we’d get as wide-eyed rookies in the game of life.

The Miami Heat, in the psyches of the American sports fan, represented big business, irresponsible banks, investment firms, and their power to do whatever they wanted whenever they wanted.  All along they reminded us of how powerless we are to inept government and the dark side of capitalism.  How we’re worker bees in a system that is far from fair and anything but equal.

The Heat established early that they were claiming an NBA title, no matter what.  But, then as fate would have it, they’d be paired with their polar opposite: a complete team of role players and honorable veterans that made the Heat’s Big Three, look like entitled children.  David meets Goliath on the hardwood.  Face it, you rooted for Dirk, Shawn, Jason and company because they are you.  And you hoped with all your heart that Lebrondown would come to fruition because in your subconscious he reminds you that you have little to no control over the biggest issues affecting your well-being.

This is why we watch sports, for the symbolism carried by the victories and defeats.  And, in this case, it was to see David triumph over Goliath, keeping the door of possibility open and the locus of control alive in the hearts of the American public.




  1. Interesting notion. I rooted for Dallas. I enjoy Novicki’s play. But I’m not a Jason Kidd fan. And I like Bosch even though he left Toronto. He’s a pretty good guy. The media played Lebron as the guy in the black hat. But on a personal level I haven’t heard anything negative about the guy. I think ultimately it was as you suggested a case of rooting for the underdog.

  2. . . . and I’m glad I got to watch the final game with you.

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