OTTUMWA — I don’t consider myself a huge LeBron James fan.
After all, James does play for the Miami Heat, the NBA equivalent of the New York Yankees — a leviathan that wields its money and power to dominate its smaller rivals. With its three superstars — one, James, who happens to be the best on the planet — the Heat are a veritable basketball Goliath swimming in a pool of Davids; albeit some of those Davids happen to be extremely talented.
Like so many Americans, I have a soft spot for David. Not just for David himself, but for the way he inspires hope in and sparks the imaginations of those who root for him. In a way, David is the manifestation of the American dream — the proof that with a little hard work and luck, anyone can do more than was logically expected of them. Even if, like me, you think the American dream has become a bit apocryphal with the vast inequality and lack of generation-to-generation mobility that haunts this country, you still can’t help but be smitten with the Davids who — whether they occupy the business or the sports world — overcome the odds and reach the top of the mountain.
Furthermore, the Heat don’t have much in common with the trademark Midwestern stoicism that is commonplace in Iowa. I suspect that, for many Iowans — and for a large number of Midwesterners — the Spurs with their fundamentally sound, no-frills style seemed more worthy of support than the Heat and their flashier style of play. While Miami — and the Los Angeles Lakers — is the darling of ESPN, the Spurs are beloved by those old-school types who never miss a chance to tell people how impoverished the team aspect of the game has become in the NBA. San Antonio, they say, performs in a fashion that harkens back to another era when one-on-one play wasn’t so ubiquitous and team play wasn’t so obscure. While I think these folks overromanticize the past, I agree and sympathize with many of their complaints about the state of game.