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HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – The last 17 months of his professional life have probably taught LeBron James a few lessons we wouldn’t wish on anyone.
It can’t be easy waking up the villain after years of being the beloved, homegrown son and the star of stars in a league filled with them. But after “The Decision” and all of the negativity that followed his televised declaration to divorce himself from the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Miami Heat in free agency, James has a firm understanding on the whirlwind that his life has been since then.
When we saw him opening up about it to ESPN’s Rachel Nichols this morning, we were more than a bit taken aback by his tone. The defiant posture that we saw from him during the Heat’s playoff run last season had vanished. It’s been replaced by a man who — dare we say it — looks to have been humbled by his experiences of the past year and a half.
His words probably won’t heal many wounds in Northeast Ohio, where James remains entrenched with the likes of former Cleveland browns owner Art Modell as one of the most despised sports figures in recent memory. There is no statute of limitations on coming around and making peace. And James strikes us as a man in need of making that peace, if with no one else other than himself.
As he told Nichols, he “used to let his game do all talking and I got away from that.”
It’s clear the hate got to him and got to his game. He bought into the villain role and it changed him, mentally. But a mea culpa about not only “The Decision” and his failings in the playoffs sound sincere.
We can’t be mad at him for that. So what if he was oblivious to the fallout of his initial decision? So what if he wrestled half the season with how he would operate in his new role as the dude wearing the black hat? It’s never too late …