In Boston’s illustrious history, there has always been a villain. Whether it be King George, Roger Goodell or the entire city of New York, there has always been a rival. The recent retirements of guys like Kobe Bryant, A-Rod and Peyton Manning has ushered in a new era for a potential Boston sports villain. It seems like there is one who stands out above all the other athletes marred on the Boston sports scene.
The Patriots’ success in the past decade and a half has made rivals all but obsolete. InBoston sports villain football, it’s difficult to pinpoint a single player as the villain. The perfect one was Peyton Manning. He was always in the discussion with Brady as the greatest quarterback in the league or even of all time. Also, the Colts were often in high-stake games with the Patriots. Even though Peyton’s brother Eli has beaten the Pats twice in the Super Bowl, they don’t play each other enough to call him a villain.
A blockbuster trade last summer took away the great Bruins villain of this generation. P.K. Subban was the face of the Montreal Canadiens and a bona fide Bruins killer, especially in the playoffs. Now with Subban in Nashville, that position lay void for the time being. I’ve already written about Manny Machado’s rise as the Red Sox villain in place of Alex Rodriguez, so that just leaves one team yet to be covered.
You probably could have guessed this by now, but clearly the biggest Boston sports villain is one LeBron James. This rivalry goes back about a decade now and, like Manning, Boston has always been the thorn in LeBron’s side. He has had his success against the Celtics, sure, but it has never been easy.
The Celtics and LeBron’s teams have always been each other’s main competition. In his first stint with Cleveland, the Celtics knocked out two very promising Cavaliers teams in the second round. In 2008, he bowed out of an epic duel with Paul Pierce in a Game Seven in which both scored over 40 points. It was a vintage showdown with two of the league’s best scorers, and LeBron couldn’t win it.
Not only is he a generational player, he is also one of sports’ biggest dinks. Boston doesn’t like dinks. Everything from “The Decision” to Miami’s super team to the Prodigal Son’s return rubbed Boston and basketball fans the wrong way. The Celtics’ Big Three had one last tango with LeBron’s Heat in the 2012 Conference Finals, where the Celtics lost in seven games. It was LeBron’s 45 points at the TD Garden in Game Six that felt like the dagger in the Celtics fans’ hearts. At least, that’s what we thought.
That summer, LeBron pirated one more star for the World Champion Heat. Celtics sharpshooter Ray Allen took a pay cut to go join LeBron and the Celtics’ chief rival. As we’ve seen in the news the past few weeks, that didn’t sit well with Bostonians or his fellow Celtics. LeBron, of course, was the catalyst of that.
So that’s the villain. LeBron is the Joker, Lex Luther, and the Boogeyman all rolled into one. Luckily for us fans, we get another Celtics-LeBron rodeo this week. It may be quick and it may be another LeBron victory, but we will have to embrace this theatre. In the near future, the Red Sox will have hatred like this again. For now though, we’ll have to settle for this. So bring it on, LeBron, bring it on.