LeBron's Villain Diminished In Era of DeAndre and Rondo

With DeAndre Jordan and Rajon Rondo making recent visits to American Airlines Center, I think suddenly we’ve forgotten to hate LeBron James.

Or, in retrospect, should we?

James makes his annual visit to Dallas tonight as the Eastern Conference-leading Cavaliers play the surprising Mavericks. Once upon a time – particularly the summer of 2011 – we hated the NBA’s best player because he played for the Miami Heat and, specifically, because he and teammate Dwyane Wade mocked Dirk Nowitzki’s flu before Game 3.

Don’t tug on Superman’s cape. Don’t spit into the win. Don’t pull the mask of ol’ Lone Ranger. And don’t – above all else – disrespect the greatest player in the history of the Mavs.

We’ll always have a special place in our heart for LeBron. Because it was him, after all, that totally under-produced in the ’11 Finals and helped the Mavs win their only championship. And now, almost five years later, he’s come around to not mocking Dirk, but rather showering him with appropriate praise.

Asked about Nowitzki at this morning’s shootaround at AAC, James talked in superlatives about Dallas’ superstar.

“He’s amazing,” James told reporters. “One of my favorite players to ever play the game. Obviously, his loyalty speaks volumes. He’s a true professional and a guy who continues to get better every year. And also, when he slowed down just a bit, he expanded on other parts of his game to still make him efficient and effective. You know, he’s just great.”

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A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.

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