I had a conversation with a co-worker yesterday and the topic of LeBron James came up and he was wondering why James is the most ridiculed man in the NBA. I tried to come up with reasons such as the clutch factor, the way he left the Cavaliers and all that but we defined the question: Do you not like LeBron the basketball player or the person?
That made me think for a bit and it made me realize that my dislike (not to be confused with hate) for LeBron James had nothing to do with what he did on the basketball floor. It all had to do with what he has done off the court.
When James broke into the league, I wanted to see him win with the Cavs. It was a good storyline: hometown kid leads his hometown team to a title. But when he kept failing, that’s when it changed for me in perception of him.
Up until then, I wasn’t a fan of his but I wanted to see him succeed. But at the same time, he was a brand and he had to find a way to market himself. And the only way he knew to market himself is if he got into a bigger market to win.
I have no problem with him leaving Cleveland. I wished he’s stay but as a free agent, he had the option to go elsewhere. I am fine with that. But I think my dislike of him began when he did “The Decision”. Even though the event was a fundraiser, it still didn’t feel right — like he used it to mask the event. No other athlete ever has held a one-hour special to announce a free agent signing.
To me, it was selfish and unnecessary. And it just seemed like he left Cleveland hanging. He could have just signed a contract and did a press conference. But instead, he did all that.
Then that massive celebration where he said there would be not five, not six, not seven championships for the Heat, that struck me wrong too. Some people say it’s cockiness but to me, it was a slap in the face of all the past players that have worked hard to win a title. James made it seem like winning titles is an easy thing. It isn’t.
You can also point out the mocking coughs he did last year during the Finals too. It’s just these things that rub me the wrong way.
The point I ended up making in this conversation is that James has to understand that he’s a public figure. And for me, my perception of people is based on how they handle themselves in front of others. Even when it comes to athletes, I don’t base my like or dislike on a player so much on their on-field talent. That’s just part of the game.
James to me just hasn’t made a positive impression to with his branding of himself.
Now, I am not saying James is a bad person. He could be the nicest guy in the world. But I don’t see that. At least not with what he’s done recently. What I do see is him acting immature. That’s what I see in James.
It’s hard to put into words all that went down in this conversation, but it got to the point that because of these actions, James has given himself the “bad guy” image. It happens in all sports — we treat it like a TV show. There’s the good guys and the bad guys. Fans cheer for the ones they like and boo for the ones they don’t.
James was the good guy in Cleveland and now because of these actions off the court, he’s the bad guy. That’s why I don’t like him. To be clear once again, I don’t hate the guy. I just don’t like the way he’s presented himself. It just rubs me the wrong way.
All that stuff about him not being clutch on the court, I just take it for what it is and not be too concerned about it. But to me, James and all other athletes are held to a certain standard in my eyes.
Maybe I see things that way because that’s how I treat all other people that I meet. I tend to see people by the way they act, how they understand their role in life. It’s all about presentation — especially for a guy like James, a public figure.
If the Heat win the title this year, I won’t get all angry like some crazy fans will. I will accept it, applaud the hard work that made the win possible and move on. And I hope that James, now reaching his goal, presents himself in a better manner to help me change my perception of him. Or maybe at least matures a little throughout the whole process.
I guess this post was more of my dislike of LeBron James the brand. I see him as more than just an athlete. And I hope that he knows that he’s more than just an athlete that has a whole other life to deal with off the court.
He still has a long way to go to get better in that department but last night’s performance shows that he still is a must-see show on the floor. Hopefully I’ll end up liking James a little more if his public image/branding matures a little.