There are all sorts of columns making the comparison today that LeBron James, whose Miami Heat lost to the Dallas Mavericks in the playoffs, is the new Alex Rodriguez, a great regular-season player who chokes in the playoffs. I can see the comparison a little, but I don't totally buy it, for several reasons.
First of all, as clueless as A-Rod can be when it comes to how to handle his image, from opting out during the World Series to saying all sorts of dopey things over the years, he never did anything as self-aggrandizing as "The Decision." When he was traded to the Yankees in 2004, the team had a press conference for him, not a pep rally. (And when he re-signed after the 2007 season, he talked to the media via conference call -- on the day the Mitchell Report was released. For once, he low-keyed it.)
Second, the comparison of LeBron to A-Rod in the 2004 ALCS, as I've heard some say, doesn't quite work. If the Yankees had been able to win Game 4, Rodriguez would be perceived as a great postseason hero. Why he gets the goat horns, when the entire team tanked the last three games, doesn't add up.
But the thing that really irks me about the comparison is that even A-Rod, somebody who didn't get that kissing himself in the mirror wasn't exactly a good look, would never say anything as offensive as what King James did last night:
James agreed the loss felt like a "personal failure" but also said "it hurts of course, but I'm not going to hang my head low."
And he said he wouldn't let it bother him that so many were so happy to see him fail.
"Absolutely not, because at the end of the day, all the people that were rooting on me to fail, at the end of the day, they have to wake up tomorrow and have the same life that they had before they woke up today," James said. "They have the same personal problems they had today. I'm going to continue to live the way I want to live and continue to do the things that I want to do with me and my family and be happy with that.
"They can get a few days or a few months or whatever the case may be on being happy about not only myself, but the Miami Heat not accomplishing their goal. But they have to get back to the real world at some point."
Good grief. First of all, you can't trash the fans as losers who don't have the great life you do, even when they're rooting against you. The last player to pull such a thing was Red Sox reliever Keith Foulke when he slammed Boston fans who booed him as being "Johnny from Burger King." That move didn't exactly work out well for him.
Second, fans who root for you want to hear that you actually care about losing. LeBron sounds more upset with basketball fans cheering against him than he does about losing the series. We know that LeBron is still famous. And rich. And talented. But for somebody who just lost in a spectacular fashion, he seems more concerned with getting back to his fabulous life than anybody else. And that's something not even A-Rod would be foolish enough to say.
What do you think? Tell us about it!