It wasn’t that long ago that King James was hailed as the savior of basketball. “The Chosen 1” was adored by fans, respected by the talking heads, and feared by opponents. And then one “Decision” in 2010 forever tarnished his once illustrious crown. But why? Why is LeBron still the most hated player in the NBA and arguably in all of professional sports?
LeBron’s choice to join the Miami Heat and assemble the three-headed monster of Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and himself, though shocking to Midwesterners, was one for the pursuit of his childhood dreams – winning an NBA Championship. And let’s not pretend for one second that when he was a kid playing in the gym imagining that he was hitting the game winning shot that he was doing it as a Cleveland Cavalier. Sure it was a feel good story; local kid taking his atrocious team from crevasses of utter mediocrity all the way to the brink of greatness and was poised to finish the job. There was just one problem with the story…he didn’t write it, we did.
James played, and continues to play, to win trophies. He is like Alexander in pursuit of is next conquest. Never in his prep or professional career has he wowed us with his rallying words of camaraderie or his desire to win one for his city or team. That’s not who he has ever pretended to be. So, when he saw an opportunity to better his chances to achieve his glory he took it. He didn’t join the Heat to obliterate the hopes and dreams of Ohio; he did it because his supporting cast was subpar. Now two seasons later, LeBron James is again on the cusp of attaining what three MVPs, eight NBA All-Star appearances (two All-Star MVP trophies), and one scoring title haven’t been able to get him. But given the amount of disdain people have towards James, I can’t help but feel should he win the championship it will feel more like a one night stand with a girl that will steal your wallet while you sleep than a lasting relationship. You see achieving what he wants most will in actuality make him drastically more hated than he is currently.
People love to see LeBron fail. Sad but true. The mere glimpse of apparent success from the man will make most NBA fans nauseous. Funny, because no one gets sick when they see Pierce, Allen, and Garnett all dressed in the same uniform. It doesn’t help LeBron’s case when his Airness, Michael Jordan, goes on the record in saying that “There’s no way, with hindsight, I would’ve ever called up Larry, called up Magic and said, ‘Hey, look, let’s get together and play on one team,’” Apparently greatness isn’t measured in what you accomplish, it’s measured in the opinions of others. James, to me at least, has become almost a tragic figure. No matter how much he trains, fights, or wins he will be a pariah; hated for not living a life that we choose for him.
Imagine for a moment the normal Joe’s equivalent to LeBron’s story: next time you tech guys apply to work at Apple remember that there are computer companies here at home in Texas that you betrayed. You chose to side with a perennial power instead of staying true to your roots and using your talents to better your brethren. Every time you put on that blue t-shirt and talk to someone about iPads and the wonders of the App Store I’ll be right there behind you booing you and telling you how much you suck.