Hating things is fine. I have built myself a summer home of hate—mortared together with antipathy for Malcolm Gladwell books, Aronofsky films, and Shakespearian comedies—into which I intermittently retreat like a small mammal in winter. Cleveland threw a tent over its skyline and became the world’s largest hate-fort for a few days following LeBron’s departure for Miami, and then again when he returned to the Q in early December. These explosions of loathing were understandable, even healthy. When misfortune befalls a person, anger is often the primary reaction; in the case of LeBron’s decision to leave Cleveland for South Beach, the unfortunate masses had a target upon which to unleash this anger. So for a few nights, a couple in July and one in December, the whole city drank too much whiskey and whipped the empty bottle in the direction of the bastard who spurned them.
If you have lived until the age of five, you have probably experienced disappointment so acidic and unacceptable that it caused your face to blush red, and you felt as if your skin might sprout porcupine barbs. We have all thrown temper tantrums is what I mean. Cleveland had a grown-up version of that, and though my reaction to The Decision was more of a complicated sadness than a desire to set flame to Bron’s jersey, I empathized with angry fans. But the way that anger has fermented over the past few months is something I find ugly.
To the guy tweeting piss-takes while LeBron sleepwalks his way through the NBA Finals: I don’t understand you. Emanating from various corners of the internet (and not just Cavalier-related ones, mind) is a vicious schadenfreude that smacks of insecurity. Skip Bayless has been doing this for years, and it seems a small army has jumped aboard as he careens his hate-bus into whatever helps him ignore the fact that every lurid thought that comes out of his head exits through a mouse’s mouth. A well-placed barb has its merits, but when one decides to plop down on the couch with their laptop open, prepared to invest their happiness in someone else’s failure for two and a half hours, they cease to exist as a human being. They’re more like the insane supercomputer from a Patton Oswalt bit than something with feelings and an opinion I should respect.
The most irksome element of this hatefest is the smugness that clings to it like months of soap scum on a bathtub. Basketball is a sport, and in sports, there is no moral high ground. Jason Kidd almost definitely abused his ex-wife at various points of their marriage. LeBron’s contract expired, and he made an ass out of himself while electing to move on to another team. Those transgressions are miles apart in terms of heinousness. I’m rooting for the Mavericks specifically because I would like to see a team of title-starved veterans—Jason Kidd among them—capture a championship, but I would never delude myself into thinking the Mavs represent The Good and the Heat The Bad. Creating false binaries is foolish.
Hate is fine. Hate can be fun. But it is impossible to stand in front of someone’s house and throw eggs forever. One eventually has to let their anger wash away like so much chalk dust, to toss their empty carton in the bushes and go home. For Cavaliers fans, this will be easier later this month, as the additions of Kyrie Irving and Building Block X will provide us with a suitable home to which we can return. But, Irrationally Angry Cavs Fan: come home now anyway. We’ve got some Dortmunder Gold in the fridge, and you might find that when you stop focusing so much on Number 6, you’ll fall in love with this German guy’s high-post game. It’s pretty breathtaking.