Wednesday, June 13, 2012

LeBron James is NBA's JR Ewing: America's villain - Denver Post

J.R. Ewing, the notorious villain from "Dallas," played by actor Larry Hagman. (CBS)

With apologies to Patrick, LeBron James is basketball's greatest Ewing.

Tonight, as you surely know, is the TNT premiere of the new "Dallas," featuring Larry Hagman in his famous role of J.R. Ewing, America's delicious villain. So yeah, basically, he's LeBron.

Apologies to my editors, but to sum up J.R. and LeBron, here's a double-negative: you just can't not watch (because who knows what they'll do next?).

A record overnight rating tuned in last night to see James' Heat lose Game 1 of the NBA

LeBron James during Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Tuesday. (Jeff Roberson, The Associated Press)

Finals, the highest-rated Game 1 in Finals history. People want to see if LeBron will blow it again. It's as simple as that. (And if he doesn't blow it, that means he'll put on some magical performance in victory, since he's LeBron after all, so it's a win-win).

Earlier in the day, ESPN held a poll on its website, asking who fans are rooting for in the NBA Finals. Every state except Florida and Washington said they were rooting for the Thunder (a better question would have been â€" are they rooting FOR the Thunder or AGAINST LeBron?)

America has hated this guy since the day he sucker-punched Cleveland with his pummeling LeBron lexicon: "I'm taking my talents to South Beach."

But what was more J.R. Ewing-like has been the way LeBron, really, just doesn't seem to care what America thinks about him, be it by his unflappable swagger, his eternal arrogance, or his better-than-you quote after losing the Finals last year: "At the end of the day, 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 that they had before they woke up today."

Basically, America just can't believe this guy's gall.

Which brings us back to John Ross Ewing Jr., the egotistical oilman many call the greatest character in television history, no offense, Balki Bartokomous (the conniving J.R. famously said, "Once you give up your integrity, the rest is a piece of cake."). He was Hagman's Hamlet, the legendary part he was born to play. From 1978-1991, J.R. was deviously devilish, scheming and backstabbing his way to mistresses and millions, all the while with an omnipresent grin. When he was shot, a record audience tuned in to see which character fired the pistol (and, really, it could have been like 37 of the characters on that show).

This story sums up J.R. Ewing. Now, I'd rather watch the movie "Air Bud: Golden Receiver" than an episode of "The Tonight Show," but I endured Jay Leno last night because Hagman was his guest. And he told a story about an elderly "Dallas" fan who approached him at a restaurant, during the show's heyday. She bluntly asked him, as if he were actually J.R., how he could possibly be so mean to his wife â€" and then she swatted her purse into his face.

Game 2 of the Finals is Thursday, so there won't be any conflict with tonight's two-hour premiere of "Dallas" (7 p.m., TNT). Now, Hagman is in his 80s, but here's hoping they don't soften the character. In a way, this sentiment makes me wonder what would happen if LeBron earns the championship this season. Really, it would take the fun out of everything.

As for me, tonight is my Super Bowl. I'm a "Dallas" fanatic (don't tell anyone). I remember skipping dinner in college to watch reruns on The Nashville Network. Here's a piece I did in The Denver Post about the show and here's a quick, fun HochCast video.

Tonight, of course, don't call me during "Dallas" â€" I'll be zeroed in on the television, watching J.R. scheme while sitting beside my dog, Ewing.

Benjamin Hochman: 303-954-1294 or

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