I have a confession to make. I am a recovering Lebron James hate hoarder. Yep, that’s right, I have held these feelings for years now, but I have decided to let them go once and for all. Now to be clear, my hate was not a product of The Decision which was a big moment for the Lebron James hate bandwagon; I’ve just always felt Big Media tried to push him to the oh so vaunted title of “best player in the world” too quickly. I also felt that Lebron was a people pleaser. It’s like he didn’t realize how good he was; that he didn’t have to explain his actions, back and forth on his thinking, prime example: The slam-dunk competition.
Here’s the 2010 Slam Dunk Competition line–up:
Nate Robinson (great taco bell commercial)
Demar DeRozen (all star appearance/big contract)
Shannon Brown (currently plays for Joeffrey Dolan’s team)
Gerald Wallace (got caught up in the Danny Ainge’s BKN Nets draft pick heist)
Notice the obvious? No Lebron! He never wanted any part of the dunk contest, or maybe he did and he felt a lost would hurt his brand, nevertheless he didn’t participate and it fueled my case for disliking him.
Looking back on it now as an adult, my dislike for the guy was pretty silly. He was a kid that grew up on the national stage in front of America’s eyes. Every form of media scrutinized every single mistake and misstep he made at time; I never had that pressure, that microscope, so it’s weird that I was so hard on the guy. Maybe he did go through a phase of being self-conscious of the world’s opinion of him, but doesn’t almost every twenty year old go through the same thing? Most just never have millions of people watching every night.
So the question has to be asked, why is LeBron so hated? Here are a few quick angles:
MJ/Kobe lovers: Yes! They know that Lebron threatens to challenge the greatness of these two all-timers. Change is difficult, and when people see something that threatens the balance of long standing traditions they hold dear, the first reaction of many is to attack.
Tats: Yes! Of course the tats must be it. They intimidate the average American. They see thug, gangster, degenerate, or sailor! When really it’s more of an expression of what he wants on his body. Family-friendly Kevin Durant has his conveniently placed on his chest and back; people never see them so it’s okay. People who decide to get tattoos in places that you can’t cover inevitably must deal with the consequences of being judged. Fair or not fair it’s worth mentioning in the Lebron James hate narrative.
This brings me to the most likely reason of the bunch in my eyes which is the lack of relation:
A big part of sports is the ability to relate to athletes. That whole “hey this guys kind of like me” feeling. It’s the same force that causes the world to love Peyton Manning and hate Tom Brady. Manning’s relatable, he promotes Papa Johns and Buick; he’s kind of goofy and conservative. All and all people buy that narrative and they love him for it. On the other hand you have golden boy Tom Brady who promotes Uggs and Movado watches; he’s good looking and is married to a super model. Not really the stuff that the average fan can buy into.
The sad part of it all is that neither of the two are relatable to the average fan. They are both multi-millionaires and in their endorsements they sell image and lifestyle, not reality. It’s presented to us that Peyton’s a normal guy who also happens to be one of the best quarterbacks of all time, but really he’s everything but normal.
I believe Bron Bron is stricken with this same lack of relation narrative, follow me along on this: So before the infamous decision, the Lebron James hate bandwagon had yet to be fueled up. Everyone loved Lebron, young kid leading a down-on-its-luck sports town to heights they had not witnessed in years. He was the lovable, passing, dunking, Kevin Garnett stealing powder-tossing apple of America’s eye, until he did something most Americans cannot relate to.
When Lebron took “his talents to south beach” in dreams of greater opportunity he instantly became the poster child for disloyalty amongst many people’s opinions. By not staying in a bad Cleveland situation, wanting better for himself and his family he was scorned, cursed, had his jersey burned. He even received a distasteful letter from his former owner Dan Gilbert. The issue here is many Americans don’t relate to the narrative of leaving their home state.
According to data received from census.gov, in the past 4 years the percentage of Americans that moved from there home state, region, or division never surpassed 3% of the population. NOT EVEN 3 PERCENT!!!! Such a small percentage it’s no wonder why the LeBron move was meet with such confusion. This is not to say that people who don’t move don’t understand why Lebron did, but it does show how the overwhelming majority of people in the country have never made such a move.
- If you’re a top person in finance, you go to Wall Street where you can maximize your talents.
- If you’re a top person in tech, you go to Silicon Valley.
- If you’re a top cartoon, you go to Disney world.
- If you’re a top basketball player, you go to a team that’s going to put the best talent around you so that you can maximize you’re talent1.
Stop fooling yourselves. Many people dream of moving from their hometown or state, but never do it for fear of the wrath they will face in terms of ridicule, doubt, and hate; though nothing compared to that of what Lebron had to face. Most sports franchises aren’t loyal;2 you’re the guy while your good, and you gone or marginalized when you’re not. Stop hating Lebron3 unless you just hate him cause he’s great, you know the same reason people hate the Patriots, Lakers, Yankees etc.… because long before you know it, Lebron will coast off into the sun, and you will have missed his greatness because you were blinded by your misguided hate.
- Unless you’re Kobe or MJ who were both traded and drafted into heaven: Los Angeles and Chicago respectively. ↩
- Unless you’re the Lakers paying Kobe your entire salary cap, but that’s another story. ↩
- Unless you’re Cleveland, though maybe you should direct that hate towards your incompetent front office because the Cavaliers failed to surround Bron with anything. ↩