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Richard Roeper: OK, so maybe LeBron James had a point

LeBrJames looks dejected during Heat's loss Bulls Sunday. | AP

LeBron James looks dejected during the Heat's loss to the Bulls on Sunday. | AP

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Updated: September 21, 2011 12:34AM



Count me among the zillions of fans who celebrated the Dallas Mavericks’ NBA title win over the Miami Heat — not because we’re such big Mavs fans but because we were rooting against the arrogant Heat.

But in the grand scheme of things, is it a huge thing to me (or to you) personally if the Heat or the Mavs have a shiny gold trophy? Of course not. We have our lives. We’re just havin’ some sporting fun.

Here’s James after the game on Sunday:

“All the people that was rooting on me to fail, at the end of the day they have to wake up tomorrow and have the same life they had when they woke up today. They have the same personal problems they had today. I’m going to continue to live the way I want to live and continue to do the things I want to do with me and my family and be happy with that. . . . They got to get back to the real world at some point.”

He’s got a point. For a certain percentage of sports fanatics — the ones who paint their faces and shout obscenities at the opposition, who live and breathe sports with no sense of perspective — the fact that the Heat lost doesn’t change the reality of their lives, both the good and the bad.

But this is yet another case of a supremely talented, generally good guy speaking before thinking. Whether he’s taking his talents to South Beach, Tweeting about winning multiple championships, mocking Dirk Nowitzki’s illness or lambasting the “haters,” James continues to chip away at his own image. All those hilarious commercials, all the charity work, all the amazing on-court moves — and yet James has become the Darth Vader of sports.

The day after the Mavs won the title, Miami was the 2-1 favorite to win it all in 2012.

And the odds-on favorite as the least favorite team in the league.

Walk this way

Last week, I was on Clark Street, making a left turn onto Lake Street.

The light was green, meaning the pedestrians on Lake Street had the right of way, while the folks on Clark Street should have been waiting for the light to change. But a handful of them started wandering off the range.

As I navigated around someone standing in the middle of the left lane, I rolled down my window, slowed to a near-stop and said, “Ya know you’re in the street, right?”

She looked at me as if I had said, “You know you’re upside-down, right?” This woman was so ensconced in her conversation, she was oblivious to the whole curb-safe, street-dangerous thing.

Newly appointed Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein is considering a number of innovations to give pedestrians a step up. Reducing the number of intersections where drivers can turn right on red lights. Giving pedestrians a five-second head start before the light turns greens for motorists. Diagonal crossings.

It’s a battle out there. Avid bicyclists will tell you the gas-guzzling cars and buses don’t respect their space. Pedestrians have stories of idiot drivers who barrel through the intersection after the light has changed. Drivers will talk about getting the left-turn arrow — and having to hit the brakes because some idiots started crossing the street.

Going back and forth from my house to various screening rooms to the Sun-Times to WLS, etc., I use virtually every form of transportation, from walking to driving to cabbing to the unicycle that I swear is going to make a comeback any century now. (It’s environmentally friendly AND circus-like.)

I try not to be the clueless texting pedestrian or the horn-honking driver carrying on a running conversation under his breath. (“Now, what’s THIS guy trying to do?”) But I’m sure there are times when I’m the guy who has the other guy shaking his head.

Chicago traffic is becoming increasingly New Yorkian. Even the quickest trip by cab or car is going to take 15 minutes. When the weather’s passable, you’re much better off walking if the distance is five or six blocks.

If there’s a way to make things flow more smoothly, I’m all for it. But when I hear about the “Barnes Dance” technique, in which the lights in all directions stay red for 14 seconds so pedestrians can cross six ways, including diagonally — that sounds like a recipe for madness. People banging into one another in a mad scramble, drivers jamming their horns and wondering why all the lights are red, pedestrians still trying to dash diagonally across the street when there’s about two seconds left on the clock . . .

Seems like the very definition of making a bad thing worse.



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