Photo courtesy Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Photo courtesy Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

As I watched last night’s Game 3 of the NBA Finals, I had an epiphany.

As halftime came and the teams left the court I very nearly left the room. But for whatever reason — and I can assure you it was not Michael Wilbon’s lack of on-screen charisma — I stuck around. Soon enough, ABC brought on NBA Commissioner David Stern for a mid-game interview.

Halfway through the Q&A, almost inevitably, the subject of LeBron James comes up. Stern immediately starts to gush about what a guy LeBron is and then he brought up ‘The Decision’ and how far James has come from what was admittedly a mistake.

And that’s when it hit me: it doesn’t really matter what happens from here on out, our opinions of LeBron James will never change.

Love him or hate him, we are almost certainly set in our ways. If we like the guy and defend his position as one of the greatest players (if not THE greatest) ever, any rings he wins from here on out are only going to reinforce our position. And if he doesn’t win any more? It won’t matter, we’ll find some other evidence to compliment the fact that he did win at least one.

And if you detest the man, well, what are the odds of him having even more success in his career changing our minds. If we are the jealous little people LeBron once accused us of being, how is even more accolades and fame going to mitigate that distain?

I’m sure I’m not the first person to figure this out but I also know I’m not the last. The point here is the realization itself. Because, once you come to it, you’ll realize any further debating LeBron’s legacy is futile.

Through a series of events that all took place in a little under a year, starting with his free agency and ‘The Decision’ and ending with that first NBA Finals with the Heat when Miami was eliminated, LeBron James basically let his true colors hang out. Those true colors are complex, a series of shades of gray, but our opinions of him are black and white.

He’s either a jerk wannabe or an underrated champion that is the scapegoat of public ire. And nothing, not even the shellacking Miami took last night in the second half, is going to lead to us changing sides.

Ultimately, it will become one of those great arguments in sports people can never drop. Like the designated hitter or whether or not college football players should be paid. Will each side have a cogent argument? Well, that all depends on who you’re asking.

If you ask ME, LeBron James’ reputation undoubtedly suffers from a series of factors. Some he is responsible for and could’ve controlled and others are not. Unfortunately for us, one of those factors was the way he left Cleveland, and he we can only play the “what-if” game as to how it ultimately shaped history. All we can do acknowledge that he has had success since and he has been unquestionably the biggest part of the teams that have gotten to three straight NBA Finals.

But all of that is a very rational and decidedly moderate stance. And heaven knows there’s no room for any of that in a debate about LeBron James.

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When Bryan isn’t writing, he is on Twitter! Make sure to give him a follow @bclienesch for NBA Finals updates and other shenanigans!