More and more, it makes sense to not like LeBron James.
On my morning drive, I tuned into ESPN radio and the topic — the only topic — was LeBron James. I thought that was awesome. Then, when I got home, I skimmed through the channels and settled on ESPN because, guess what? They were sitting around talking about LeBron James. That worked for me. After an hour or two, it seemed like they had somehow, overnight, programmed nothing but LBJ analysis for today. I changed the channel, watched The Talented Mr. Ripley and then flipped back to ESPN. OMG. They were still talking about him and his epic fail in the finals.
On this evening’s news, Diane Sawyer spoke of LeBron as though he were Icarus, flying too close to the sun and burning his wings before plummeting to Earth.
Cheese and crackers. Enough already.
I’m not sure who hates LBJ more, Dan Gilbert (the very bitter and very passionate owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers) or the media. Either way, they’re making it a little difficult to be complicit in this very public and very sound drubbing of King James. Of course, the morning after the Game 6 debacle (that has been blamed solely on LeBron James, mind you), footage from the post-game press conference was everywhere you turned.
Why? Because LeBron was answering journalists’ questions in what came off as, oh, a little arrogant and pompous? After he was asked if he was bothered by people rooting against him, this is what he said…
“Absolutely not. 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. They have the same personal problems they had today.”
Wow. Thanks for pointing that out, LeBron. You mean, the same problems like unemployment, poverty, lack of opportunity, crime, poor housing, poor education, that sort of thing? Ya know, like…how you grew up in Akron, Ohio? That is, of course, before you became the “Chosen 1.” He doesn’t want anyone to forget that he’s the “Chosen 1,” either, so he got it tattooed on his back. I can’t make this stuff up. (Some commentators also mentioned that when he calls up NBA players he opens the call with, “This is the King,” as in his other nickname, King James.)
I admit, I took a little satisfaction in the Dallas Mavericks winning the championship and, more important, dashing the dreams (and predictions) of the Miami Heat and LeBron James. One Emory psychologist believes that people like me suffer from “schadenfreude,” which means that we derive pleasure from the misfortunes of strangers. I don’t think it’s that simple. Sure, there’s a sense of vindication when LBJ does not automatically sail to an NBA championship. But there’s something else. LeBron has changed…he’s not humble, he’s not a man of the people, he’s not a “good guy” anymore.
He told journalists, “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. So 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 got to get back to the real world at some point.” That there, folks, is a major douchebag.
Hey, LeBron, sports are supposed to be an escape from the real world…we little people enjoy that escape, we peons enjoy watching our teams do well (or, heck, not do well), we identify with our teams and players, and we do so passionately. It’s part of our identity, part of who we are.
Surely King James understands that…surely someone who is worth $400 million as a result of us poor folk “gets” that his fortune is built on the backs of people like us. People who buy his jerseys and his shoes and all the gear emblazoned with his name and number. People who spend their hard-earned money buying tickets to watch him perform amazing feats on the court…people whose devotion leads corporations like Nike and McDonald’s and Coca Cola to pay him millions of dollars to peddle their wares to little people like us.
When he left Cleveland, he went about it all wrong, without question. But I’d go so far as to say that leaving, in and of itself, was wrong as well. By leaving, he told Ohioans they weren’t good enough for him. That they had nothing to offer. That he couldn’t be fulfilled if he stayed there. That the only thing that mattered was “a ring,” which Cleveland surely couldn’t provide.
Yet, the whole time he was there, he found it so easy to spew those things that resonated with the people of Northeast Ohio; that he was committed to giving back, that he wanted to better our communities, that he wouldn’t forget where he came from, that he felt a great affinity with the people of Northeast Ohio and would always be one of them.
Today, there’s no doubt that LeBron James is committed to one thing — himself.
Stephen Colbert had this to say about LeBron’s comments: “It’s not how you play the game, it’s how you disparage the little people who make it possible for you to make a living bouncing an inflatable ball.”
Guess what, LeBron? Maybe you count me as one of the little people “who was rooting on you to fail.” Sure, we had to wake up this morning with the same life we had before we woke up the day of Game 6. However, if we were rooting for you to fail…which you did…then who woke up feeling a little better Monday morning? You? Or the little people that you dismissively mock? Don’t deny us that little sense of satisfaction, buddy. You can tell us what losers we are tomorrow.
Update: After being skewered around the country for his comments, LeBron tried to
spin explain with this:
“I think it was interpreted different than what I was trying to get out there. Basically, I was saying, at the end of the day, this season is over and with all the hatred not only myself, everyone else has to move on with their lives. I wasn’t saying that I’m superior or better than anyone else, any man or woman on this planet. I’m not. That wasn’t my intent.”
Really, LeBron? Because, well, you kinda said that the haters have to go back to their same life and their same problems and the “real world” while you’re going to still be LeBron James. That sounds like ummmm…you think you’re a superior being. But, hey, what do I know?
That being said…I’m starting to feel kinda bad for the guy, given this:
The Peoria Chiefs have added a LeBron James 2011 NBA Championship Replica Ring Giveaway to all fans on Thursday June 16 to enhance the Salute to the 1990s Chicago Bulls Championship Teams Night. The replica ring, which like LeBron’s is non-existent, will be handed out to all fans through the gates prior to the 7:00 p.m. game against Wisconsin.
Throughout the night the Chiefs will be celebrating a true champion, the 1991, 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997 and 1998 Chicago Bulls. Despite having the greatest player of all time, the most decorated coach in NBA history and two other Hall of Famers, the Bulls always played, and won as a team. There will be video clips of the Bulls titles along with audio highlights and trivia while the team will take the field to “Sirius” by the Alan Parsons Project.
In addition to the LeBron replica ring, the Chiefs are looking into whether or not the game can skip the fourth inning to honor King James who took off the fourth quarter of every finals game.
Ouch. Geez Louise, people. When you start making people (even in Chicago, where he hasn’t personally stomped on your hopes and dreams) hate you this much, you know you’ve messed up in a big way.