As I have previously pointed out, and it should be rather obvious, LeBron James is the best basketball player on the face of the earth right now. I don’t think its even close. I am not going to try to convince you of that. Arguing some topics in sports fall into the realm of disagreements that you see in politics and religion. Greatest has that weight.
Secondly, to hate someone requires a lot of emotion and I would think some personal interaction. I get that there are people in the world that hate others because of race, religion, beliefs, creed, ethos, etc. etc. To me however, someone must truly offend or hurt you or someone you love to hate them. My point being is that when some says, “I hate LeBron” I know its not true. How can you hate a person you don’t truly know and someone who is playing a part in entertainment (LaVar Ball maybe? JK…. but seriously annoyed with him). That would be like me saying I hate the Javier Bardem or Alan Rickman. They played the bad guys, but I don’t know them. LeBron has played the hero and villain equally. Its his image or brand that motivates him. LeBron is playing a character. He’s an actor.
In my expert opinion, here is why people say they “hate” LBJ.
1) He crowned himself – When you give yourself a tattoo on your back proclaiming you are the second coming or literally coronate yourself “King James” people are not going to like that power grab. I am a huge Kobe fan, but even when he gave himself the nicknames of Mamba and Vino, I cringed (even though I will defend it till the day I die! He earned that RIGHT!). Its hubris to do it, reeking of pride and over self confidence. However, this was intentional and brilliant from a branding and marketing standpoint. All professional athletes have a brand to maintain. The moniker King James, while it ruffles feathers, was smart.
LeBron has vocally come out and said he wants to be the greatest ever and he believes it. How dare he! Right? That place is sacred and we the fans decide. You don’t get to choose, Mr. James! LBJ is a once in a generation athlete and talent. Why not shoot for the stars and have a realistic chance. But just like how carving “Chosen1” on your back it doesn’t make it true, saying it aloud doesn’t change that fact. He continues to speak openly about how he compares to Mike. It’s no secret, he wants to be better than him. That bothers people and gets them fired up.
2) LeBron is good – Because he is an All-Star you see LBJ way more than other players. He is the face of the NBA internationally. I guarantee more people in the world could name LBJ as a current NBA player than anyone else. Being in that spotlight attracts a ton of media attention. Just the fatigue of seeing LBJ annoys.
Also, because he is good at basketball he beats people at the game of basketball. He makes them look bad. It’s not fun to lose. If you have fallen to the sword of LeBron, why would you like him?
3) The King complains – There is an unspoken rule of the universe: If you are the most talented, the most gifted, you do not get to complain. That seems to be the rule ingrained in us like a primal instinct. Dunno where it came from, but its just not fair if you are better to complain!
And then you have the perception that there is All-Star treatment with officiating [I say perception because (1) usage – the best players usually have the ball more (2) the best players attack and force calls (3) as one of my brothers pointed out, they are better than the average player… the whole reason they can get to the hoop – their ability – also helps them be a better defender (sometimes)]. When LeBron throws his head back in disgust or races like a torpedo back to half court with his hands reaching upwards to heaven, after a foul is called on him, it only deepens the resentment and bias against him. See video here.
A sister to complaining is his flopping game. He is the size of an NFL DE. That is another rule of the universe: If you are big you cannot be hurt or fall down…. But like it or not, flopping is part of the game. A player should look to every advantage to win the game – like walking in slow pitch softball to bring in a run or flopping like a fish to get a call. But flopping seems like the cowards way. Beat me straight up! Don’t fake it.
4) Social Media Era – I think this is the most fascinating parts to a seismic shift in professional sports. Never before have we been able to have this much access to athletes. They are willingly and freely sharing themselves. It also opens the door to direct criticism and trolling (looking at you, Grant Hill, you coward). This has also ushered in a new reporting wave, where sensational headlines are suddenly created as quickly as a deleted tweet. Athletes are no longer protected in the same way they used to be and it is because they are being more open and sharing. As discussed on the Dan Patrick show with Ernie Johnson the other day, after every game or some kind of playoff record, the media instantly starts a debate or silly argument about how player X is the greatest X of all time.
There is no doubt that the power of social media has altered our way of communication, habits, beliefs, and behavior. Our sitting President, the flapjack head, knows its power. We need instant gratification.
5) Fans are irrational – For some reason fans think they dictate “the way the game should be played.” This entitlement or right to say how a player should play or live out their career came from a misplaced sense of ownership. A ticket doesn’t suddenly get you at the table to discuss the business of a franchise. It gets you into the arena. Before we get all in a huff about this idea (fans = revenue), lets look at a career defining moment for LBJ that could help illustrate my point – The Decision.
No one had done what James did so publicly to a city or franchise. He set up a televised press conference and infamously burned Cleveland with “I am taking my talents to south beach.” OK. If you were kind of on the fence before about LBJ, you had to go on side or the other at that moment… A lot of fans took to anger and burned his jerseys, quickly forgetting that the same player brought their franchise back to relevance in a very short timeframe with little help. How irrational is that? Fans don’t own the players and never will. The marketplace owns them. LeBron didn’t make a power move at the draft like other superstars (ala Kobe). He stuck with his hometown, something he did not have to do.
Imagine you are at a company where you are spread so thin that you are working overtime and everyone that surrounds you in below average. You carry their workload. And finally, you live in a crappy city. The competition sees your value. They make overtures to you with more money, a better city, and better talent. You are going to stay right? The grass is literally greener on the other side, but you will remain loyal. Stay strong and true… LIKE. HELL. YOU. ARE.
LeBron had to make a decision, win now, get paid, or stick it out in Cleveland and become a “what could have been.” Its all about the titles for him. Check this out – before LBJ was drafted in 2003, Cleveland last made the playoffs in 1997 and were bounced in the first round. They hadn’t made a conference final since MJ took them down in 1992, which was only their second time ever reaching it. Look at James’ timeline below:
2004 – Drafted, ROY. Finish 5th with a .427 win % – up 3 spots from 8th, .22 better win %, +18 more wins than the previous year. A significant pump.
2005 – Finish 4th, up one spot, .512, +7 more wins
2006 – 2nd, Lose in 7 in the conference semifinals, .610, +8 wins
2007 – Swept in NBA finals
He took them to an NBA finals in his 4th year and averaged 40+ mins on average. He did that with Ilgauskas, Gooden, Larry Hughes, Sash Pavlovic, Daniel Gibson, Eric Snow, and Varejao (included these players as they started most game and averaged +20 mins a game). Fans in Cleveland burned LeBron’s jersey? Their best player… like ever…
He stuck around till 2010 and things didn’t really improve in terms of upgrading the roster. I can totally see why LBJ left and why fans feel betrayed, but be real here. You are dating a 6 and getting by and then a 10 drops a note on your desk and says she and her friend are interested in you (yes, I am looking at you Wade and Bosh). What isn’t to like?! He was in Free Agency. Up to him. Not Fan Agency. So buy your billboards hoping to entice a player to stay, but the chance to win and make more money at the same time wins out.
Hate LeBron. He doesn’t know you:
“All the people that were 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. 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 that I want to do with me and my family and be happy with that. They can get a few days or a few months or whatever the case may be on being happy about not only myself, but the Miami Heat not accomplishing their goal. But they have to get back to the real world at some point.”
“Cleveland fans are awesome, but I mean, even my family gets spoiled at times watching me doing things that I do, on and off the court.”
“A LeBron James team is never desperate.”