Dallas Maverick Fans: It's Time to at Least Appreciate LeBron James

LeBron James, ready to take the next step.

The hate is reasonable. He mocked Dirk Nowitzki.

In between Games 4 and 5 of the 2011 NBA Finals, video caught Dwyane Wade and James apparently mocking Dirk, who played with a high fever and flu like symptoms in the Mavericks Game 4 victory.

Wade immediately passed it off that they were making fun of "media overreaction." To a point, he was right. But it was still childish, immature and downright lame. Even if their intentions weren't to mock the man destroying their league-leading defense, both James and Wade are veterans enough to know how the media would react, especially with cameras around.

So, I get it. This isn't a plea to completely change your opinion of LeBron James. But, by gosh, please remember to enjoy and appreciate him. If he falls again, feel free to bash. Just have some perspective.

That doesn't mean you have to like him on a personal level or endorse his off the court actions (which really, there are few of since The Decision.) But don't let an all-world talent pass you by simply because you hate the man for doing things, that in the grand scheme of things, really mean nothing.

I say this not just because James is the most uniquely talented player perhaps the NBA will ever see. But because James has picked up criticisims that all Dallas fans can understand.

"He's not clutch."

"He vanishes in the fourth quarter."

"He's too nice to win a ring."

"He's too soft to carry a team and win it all."

"He had his team in control of the Finals and he let it slip away."

Sound familiar? It should. It's what newspapers and radio hosts were saying about Dirk Nowitzki all the way till June of 2011.

So why should Dallas fans be burying James for the exact same reasons we defended Dirk Nowitzki from until he finally won it all? Do we find some bizarre, sadistic pleasure in bullying a player that we used to defend from bullying?

Meanwhile, James is absolutely obliterating the league and the playoffs this year. He squashed any chance of a Celtics upset in the Eastern Conference Finals by piling up over 70 points in Games 6 and 7 while also playing primarily out of position at power forward, guarding bigs like Kevin Garnett.

He's focused. He's collected. He's getting mean on the court. Also sound familiar?

National media outlets will bill tonight's Finals matchup as "Good vs. Evil," much like they did last year. It's good boy Kevin Durant vs. bad guy LeBron James.

This isn't a plea to join the LeBron James fan club. Boo him. Blast him on Twitter. Write witty Facebook messages and Photoshop funny pictures. It's well within your right.

But when you're through with all that, sit down and watch. Take it in. Appreciate a player coming out of his shell. Appreciate a player doing things that haven't been done before. Appreciate a player so mystifying and talented that 30 years from now when you have to sit your grandchildren down and they ask what it was like to watch LeBron James, you'll pause as you drastically think of a combination of words. Then you realize there's just one.

"Unbelievable."

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