What drives the LeBron James hate brigade? Lately, people have been trying to force him into the anti-hero role. I’ve been pondering this topic ever since LeBron publicly dumped Cleveland for Miami.
LeBron James may be immature and narcissistic, but he’s not a villain. People persecute him for all the wrong reasons, including his decision to go to Miami. I gained respect for James when he made that choice because he chose basketball over branding. He wants to win championships. What’s so terrible about that? The latest example of the public whipping James has endured is the response to his “black book” tweet.
So what if he wants to make mental notes of people that despised him? If you think Michael Jordan never kept one of those, you’re largely mistaken. No, I’m not in any way comparing LBJ to MJ; LeBron effectively removed himself from all MJ comparisons when he decided to team up with Wade and Bosh in Miami. But if we’re talking about great individual players of our time, he’ll always be in that conversation. He does share many of their qualities, including, yes, keeping an eye on rivals.
I found Charles Barkley’s response interesting:
“I heard about LeBron James’ little tweet…He’s making a list of people that said something bad about him. Well, I want to make sure my name is on that list, because I thought that little one-hour special was a punk move. I thought them dancing on stage was a punk move…Him joining Dwayne Wade’s team was disappointing to me…If he wants to take that as criticism, so be it. He know where I be. I’m easy to find. I’m on TV every week.”
Frankly, I have no problem with Barkley’s response. None. If you’re a professional athlete, you’re going to have to tolerate some level of criticism at some point. But the backlash is unwarranted. I don’t get how this makes him a bad guy.
What’s the worst that could happen from LeBron’s attitude? Oh, I don’t know, the NBA becomes more competitive? God forbid the league should become fun to watch. I don’t know about you, but all that friendly shit is bores me to tears. And in a league that features 82 pointless games over a long, grueling season, a dose of competitive basketball is just what the doctor ordered.
Truth be told, LeBron’s display of narcissism can be appalling. But keep in mind that none of that would have been possible without the public’s cooperation. If he’s such a villain, why tune in to the LeBron Show on a nightly basis? The same people that paint him as a villain will be sitting on the edge of their seats, salivating for LeBron’s high-flying dunks and ferocious chase-down blocks. His jerseys will still sell like hot cakes.
The man wants to be loved, just like any other star worth his mettle. Now, he’s made some immature decisions (“The Decision” being one of them) over the course of his 7-year career in the NBA, but so have many other 20-something year-olds in the NBA and other fields for that matter. Immature? Yes. A bad guy, he’s not.