Watch the throne: In defense of the NBA’s most polarizing superstar

As the NBA Playoffs begin, all the hype is surrounding the main Western Conference teams. The Steph Curry freight train keeps rolling and talk of the Spurs possibly challenging the Warriors dominate every major sports headline.

But somehow lost in the shuffle is LeBron James. Leading the Cleveland Cavaliers to the number one seed in the Eastern Conference, it seems as though James is not getting the respect he deserves. Part of this is a boredom factor: he’s done this so many times before, while Curry puts a new and exciting face on the game.

People complain about the amount of times he whines and flops to get his way with the referees. While these concerns are valid, consider the way they are judged by the media.

A couple weeks ago, Curry starting running back to his end of the court after delivering a pass, knowing the shooter would knock it down (and sure enough he did). People went crazy over this clip, sharing it all over social media, but when LeBron attempted to do the same thing with a pass to Kyrie Irving, the internet came out with loads of hate on James. Sure, Kyrie missed the shot—but it’s unfair to critique James’ behavior when it was identical to Curry’s, which was praised.

Whenever Curry drops an amazing stat line, people sing his praises, but when James posts a similarly fantastic stat line, they say, “Yeah, but he could have done more.” On one hand, I understand the criticisms of James. He’s only won two championships, even though he’s been to the finals six times. He can be pouty on the court and complain to the refs.

I get it, but at some point, talent trumps it all. His blend of relentless scoring, tenacious rebounding and exceptional passing is something we’ve never seen before. While it’s easy to critique him because of certain behaviors he exhibits, we should remember that he is still human. While you may not love the man, you have to appreciate what he’s done for the game and respect him as a player. A talent like LeBron James is too valuable to ignore.