A couple of days ago, I read an article on Lebron James saying that "he's accepted this villain role." You can read the article HERE on SlamOnline.com. In short, Lebron is basically saying he's grown accustomed to it [being the villain] and even enjoys it. Wait what? I have a couple problems with this statement. For starters, we all knew Lebron was slowly becoming a villain before Lebron knew he was a villain so he ain't fooling me. Secondly, Lebron "accepting" the villain role just makes me question how much he really respects himself as a person more so a basketball player. Why conform to what people are trying to make you out to be? If you truly feel like you're the victim, and you're a good guy then why switch it up all of a sudden? Which brings me to the quote above. "You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain." This most certainly is the case with Lebron. So if he's the villain, who's the hero of the NBA?
Before I get into this, I would like to make one thing clear: Lebron is just A villain, and not THE villain of the NBA. I know he's painted to be the most hated NBA player right now, probably of all time but I don't see him being THE guy. He's just being hated on NOW because of his recent off-season move to take his talents to South Beach. If anything, he's like The Red Hood of the NBA, a wannabe villain scorned by the world and who secretly just wants to be liked. If Lebron were to ever get back into the NBA fans' good graces he'd accept them with open arms. That's not a villain, that's a child screaming for attention so let's get that out of the way. The true villain of the NBA, as much as it pains me to say it cause he just so happens to be my favorite player, is Kobe Bryant. My reasoning doesn't have anything to do with him snitching on Shaq, his sexual assault case, I'm not even gonna say it's because of him committing adultery numerous times on his beautiful wife, Vanessa...speaking of his wife:
*ahem* It mainly has to do with Kobe just not giving a damn. He really truly doesn't. He doesn't care if you love him, or hate him. He has a one-track mind and that is to be the best by any means necessary. He's a cold-blooded killer and wears his nickname, the Black Mamba, quite well. Funny thing is, as cold and calculating as Kobe is there's just as many people who adore him as many as that hate him. If the NBA were the DC Universe, Kobe Bryant is The Joker and Pau Gasol would be his Harley Quinn. (Gasol has nothing to do with this, I just wanted to take a stab at him.) So back to the question, now that we know who the REAL main villain of the NBA is...who's the main hero that will rise up and take down the two-time defending champion Kobe-led Lakers team? First let us clarify exactly what a hero is, by definition:
A person of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities.
Now using that definition in combination of taking a quick Twitter poll to see who everyone else thought as an NBA elite player, I got the following candidates at least more than one time eventually making a list of nominees to be "The Ultimate NBA Hero":
Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic
Other than the fact that he's inherited the nickname "Superman" after Shaq, Howard has all the trademark personality traits you want in a superhero. Caring, thoughtful, selfless, and brave just to name a few. Loved around the league and widely known as "a very nice guy", Dwight Howard just could be the hero the NBA needs to face the evil Kobe "Joker" Bryant. They have faced each other once before in the finals w/ Kobe and his flunkies winning the series 4-1. During that series, Dwight and Kobe had a pretty heated exchange. Since then, the regular season battles between the Lakers and Magic have been pretty intense and close, both teams winning a game (Lakers 98-92 and Magic 96-94). Could there a possible rivalry brewing here? During the offseason, he has finally worked on his weak offensive game and is now showing off an arsenal of new moves, including the 12ft jumper. Will Howard be able to guide his team to the finals and face the Lake Show, redeem himself and possibly claim the title of the NBA's hero?
Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder
Kevin "Durantulla" Durant. At 19 years old, the young hero came into the NBA and met everyone's expectations by winning Rookie of the Year and more. During his short NBA career, Durant has become the NBA scoring champion (the youngest to ever win the award at 22), made the All NBA 1st Team (second youngest to make it at 21 years and 197 days), and also winning a FIFA World Championship gold medal as well as leading Team USA in scoring throughout the games. In last year's playoffs, he and the Thunder took on Kobe and the Lakers, taking them to six games before ultimately falling to the eventual champs. The moment I knew Durant had officially arrived was when he took it upon himself to guard Kobe during the 4th quarter in Game 3 of the series. Not only was he able to "shut down" Kobe, he also poured in 29 points and grabbed 19 rebounds en route to the win. Despite all these heroic feats he's still not quite there yet to be THEE hero of the NBA. He's still wet behind the ears and has some improvement to do. But someday I do see him taking that spot and leading the "good guys" of the league, just not right now.
Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls
A surprise nominee, to me at least, is Derrick Rose. Young, talented, and flashy I can almost see why he made this list and got enough votes to be among the heroes of the NBA. But just like Durant, I don't think Rose is quite there yet. He's obviously the leader of the young Chicago Bulls squad and you can even argue him as being the best point guard in the NBA. But then again, wouldn't you want your leader to...you know, be smart? No shade to the guy because his leadership does come through his actions on the court, but we all know he isn't the brightest kid in the class. If I'm going to have anyone be the Ultimate NBA Hero, I'd at least want him to be able to have some level of intelligence.
Amar'e Stoudemire of the New York Knicks
I'm almost certain the only reason Amare' was able to make this list by fan vote is due to the abundance of Knicks fans I have on my Twitter timeline, but fact of the matter is if you're a hero in New York, you're considered a hero everywhere. Knicks fans are proud of their season thus far and especially proud of their leader, Amare' Stoudemire. I don't see him being THEE hero of the NBA, not now and to be honest not ever. Despite him being on track to having his most productive season yet with avgs of 26 pts and 9 rbs, his best since the '05 season with the Suns, he just doesn't have that heroic aura about him. Great player though, just not quite the guy to be the face of the NBA as far as good guys go.
Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat
Before this season, I believed that Dwyane "Flash" Wade was indeed that guy but not quite the shoe in as I once believed and I'll get into that later. Out of all the nominees, Wade has the ring and a Finals MVP to back up his resume. Easily one of the most popular and well liked players in the NBA, Wade actually was nominated with the most votes during the polls so the fans definitely dig him. There's also him leading Team USA in scoring en route to an Olympic gold medal as well as claiming a NBA scoring title during the '08-'09 season. He's also well known for his philanthropic involvement in numerous organizations promoting education and health-care for kids and the comedic and equally charming T-Mobile commercials with Charles Barkley. But the fact still remains as he lobbied to bring a now self-proclaimed villain, Lebron James, to his Miami Heat team. There has been times in history where the hero and villain work side by side to achieve a common goal so maybe him being the hero can still happen. Especially if Wade and Lebron are able to win a ring together, will Lebron relinquish his villain role and come back or can Lebron possibly swing Wade into the dark side with him? Now that's a story arc I wouldn't mind tuning into.
So what do you guys think of the nominees, do you agree or disagree and why? Is there anyone else you'd recommend besides the ones mentioned here, explain in the comments section below.