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Thunder fans: Don't boo LeBron James

LeBron James has embraced his role as the NBA's villain, and columnist Jenni Carlson suggests that Thunder fans don't give him his fuel — booing.
by Jenni Carlson Modified: January 29, 2011 at 5:01 pm •  Published: January 29, 2011

Don't do it, Oklahoma City. When everything in your head and your heart tells you to cut loose, don't. When the urge is there to make the Oklahoma City Arena sound like a state school board meeting, don't.

Don't boo LeBron.

I know this is asking a lot. Really. I understand the urge to let the guy have it.

But when LeBron James comes to town today for the first time since leaving Cleveland for Miami, fight that temptation to boo him like a bad warm-up act. This isn't some sort of plea for civility. This isn't a call for good sportsmanship.

This could help your team win.

The truth is, Thunder fans, LeBron wants your boos.

He has taken to his new role of NBA villain. Even though he didn't seem so thrilled by it this past summer — why anyone would dislike him for kicking more sand in Cleveland's eye than they even have on South Beach? — LeBron is playing to type now.

Look at what James did earlier this month during an overtime win in Portland. Trail Blazer fans were on him all night, but as their boos escalated late in the game, so did LeBron's game. He fed off the vibe. He flourished in the moment.

When he stuck a three-pointer that sealed the victory in overtime, he pulled a DeSean Jackson and cruised the opposite end of the court. He raised his arms. He baited the crowd. He flashed that smile.

LeBron finished with a season-high 44 points that night.

That wasn't the only time he played some of his best ball on the road. He had 31 points opening night in Boston, 38 points in his return to Cleveland and 33 points in Utah where the fans are convinced everyone is against their Jazz.

LeBron is playing some of his best ball in the most hostile environments.

“It continues to fuel me,” he told reporters recently of the vitriol, “and I just try to go out there and do what needs to be done for our team to win.”

Why give him that fuel, Oklahoma City?

Why provide his team that boost?

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by Jenni Carlson
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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