LeBron James is my favorite basketball player because he's the best basketball player. That is the only reason, and it feels good.
Sports are full of a million stories and numbers and rules and paint on the ground that tells you where you can't step and guys who blow little one-note musical instruments if you do something wrong. They're really, really complicated, and I think we're conditioned to believe that our rooting interests and feelings about these people are supposed to follow suit -- or, at least, have to be a little sophisticated. You don't like Tim Tebow because he's good, you like him because the two of you are on the same page with regard to dinosaur saddles. You didn't like Chipper Jones because he's good, you like him because he's the big cracker Pope of the South, the standard-bearer for your culture. You don't hate Ray Lewis because because he's always sacking your quarterback, you hate him because you think he killed a guy and proud black people unsettle you. Et cetera.
I've grown up in this bullshit, just like you. I spent years and years of my adolescence and early adulthood trying to sculpt my Braves fandom into some grand triumph of tradition and talent and whatever the Hell, when in truth I was just a man-baby spoiled by a good team. After a while, the apologetics grow exhausting. I thought that as I grew older, I would grow smarter, I would learn more about sports, I would be able to argue them better, and I would be able to say, "I like this athlete because of these Xs and those Os."
Nope! I'm just as dumb, just more tired is all, and I make ape noises and slap furniture with big, palms-out smacks when I see things like this.
Strangely, this was the moment I decided LeBron was my favorite player, perhaps because it didn't have anything to do with a team or game or anything of sports-consequence. It was just LeBron doing something neat.
My reasons for liking LeBron are no more or less valid than the reasons people have for disliking him. It's true that he deserted his team and is a flopping crybaby six-year-old faker fraud coward baby alien kleptocratic idiotic dinosaur monster from the Seahorse Nebula. Right now, while you are at work, he's in your apartment, stealing half your socks and ripping open the heels of the ones he leaves with a letter opener. He's bad news, and I get it, and I would never fault you. I've been there. I couldn't make myself like Michael Jordan when I was a kid.
But holy shit, this feels good. My favorite player is the best player in the universe because he's the best player in the universe. Tonight he'll blow up for 26 points and 14 assists, or maybe 34 and 8, depending on how he needs to calibrate, because he can, because he's the big fat pocketknife with the pen and the saw and the microscope.
Of course, given the last few nights, there is a very real chance the Spurs will shut him down again, but I won't have to care. No values invested, none lost. No logic employed, no rationale required. My favorite player is LeBron James, the guy unlike any other guy on the planet, and it's dumb and I feel dumb. People don't talk enough about how great dumb can really feel sometimes.