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LeBron James, Game Genie, and Why I’m Rooting Against the Heat

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Full disclosure, I don’t want the Miami Heat to win the NBA Championship this year… or any year for that matter. No, it’s not because I’m from Cleveland and LeBron James gave the city the finger, then came back a few months later and nailed our collective wives by going 38/8/9 in a little over two quarters… ok, part of it is because of that, but the rest is for an entirely different reason. The Heat represent a dangerous, scary, and overall sad attitude that seems to be pervading America; the attitude that if something is hard, it’s not worth doing and the easy way out is the best plan.

LeBron is receiving ungodly amounts of praise this morning for scoring the final 10 points of last night’s game and finishing off the Celtics in the process, but why? Without getting too deep into this issue, there is no “clutch;” if there were; someone would have a 100% clutch rating and never falter under pressure. “Clutch” is a perceived phenomenon perpetuated by the media and transplanted into the brains of unsuspecting sports fans. Quick, who has the higher poststeason OBP, “Captain Clutch” Derek Jeter or lightning rod for choke symbols Alex Rodriguez? If you said Jeter, you are dead wrong, it’s A-Rod and it’s not close (.396 to .377). According to the numbers Jeter is actually worse at getting on base in the postseason than normal (.384 regular season) and A-Rod is better in the playoffs (.387 regular season). More on the myth of clutch at a later time, getting back to LeBron… he is being praised for doing exactly what he has been getting crushed for doing over the past 6 years, taking bad shots late in games; this time, they just happen to fall.

LeBron is 6’8, 250 and the ultimate physical specimen. He can go over you, around you, or through you. When you see him coming at you it’s too late, it’s like being chased by a bear. If you run, he will chase you down. If you stand your ground, he will pummel you. If you seek higher ground, he will pull you down and crush you. That’s how it usually works, except in end-game situations. In the end-game his moves are predictable; he stands around the 3-point line, avoiding the paint like its lava while chucking up 3s. Yesterday was no different, except the shots fell. At 87-87, he drained back to back 3s and effectively ended the series. For good measure, a few seconds later, he perpetuated the fallacy of him being a great on-ball defender with a steal and a dunk. Truthfully, his defense is subpar, but he cherry picks the passing lanes. When it works, he looks like a star, when it doesn’t, no one really notices.

Back on topic, the reason that I am rooting against the Heat is because they represent the attitude of the “me” generation. I’m not the old guy shaking his finger and yelling for kids to get off his lawn; I’m 28; old to some, young to most. Fact is, what I’ve seen in my generation is only getting worse with each new one. For whatever reason people feel a sense of entitlement; that the world owes them something for being alive; that if something doesn’t come easily on the first try, you are better off either quitting or stacking the deck. Who’s to blame? Hard to say, but my theory puts the blame on toy manufacturer Galoob with a hat tip to video game company Konami. Why? In 1986 Konami released a Nintendo game called Gradius in which they put in a cheat code (further popularized by the 1987 game Contra and used in most of their future titles). Any one even remotely close to my age knows the code by heart (up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, start). What the code did was made the game easier for you, and (in the case of Contra) allowed you to start with 30 lives instead of the much lower regular number. Galoob took this concept to extremes with releasing their product: Game Genie. Game Genie is a cheat system that attaches to your game and, by patchng the program code, allows you to alter any number of variables that made it nearly impossible to lose. Why do I blame these things for the downfall of hard work in this country? Simple, because it taught kids from a young age that if something is hard, you can just cheat the system and still win… sound familiar?

Collusion aside, LeBron James and Chris Bosh didn’t break any rules by joining the Heat and forming a superteam, but what they did, in effect, is the same as using Game Genie. It was as if they were playing Mega Man 4 and couldn’t defeat Pharaoh Man… so they popped in their Game Genie and enabled infinite lives. Instead of finding a way through their situation and coming out a better person, they chose to manipulate the system to give themselves infinite lives. Would a championship be more fulfilling for Lebron in Cleveland? You’d have to ask him… but I bet he would say no.  It’s a cheap no though, the type of no that an 8 year old that used Game Genie to beat a game that he couldn’t otherwise get through would say. A no that despite your best efforts to hide it, leaves a feeling of emptiness inside because you know that you couldn’t do it by yourself.  LeBron is already starting to feel that emptiness; he said as much last night. After the game he admitted what he should have 10 months ago: “I loved my guys in Cleveland, but I couldn’t do it by myself.” The sad thing is, yes LeBron, you could do it by yourself. You didn’t have to use Game Genie to take you straight to the end game.

But he did, and here we sit. The Heat are two series away from winning an NBA title and invalidating generations of Americans who pulled themselves up and overcame obstacles to succeed. But… their journey isn’t done yet… some games are impossible to beat even with Game Genie… and here’s to hoping LeBron, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh all face the harsh reality that Game Genie doesn’t always mean an automatic win.


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