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The Hate For LeBron? My Take

Posted by on Jun 15, 2011

About two weeks ago I wrote a post titled Why LeBron Isn’t Yet Michael Jordan. I tried to make it clear in that post that I wasn’t demeaning anything LeBron James has done to this point, only that comparing him to Michael Jordan right now was not only unfair, but not even close to realistic. At that time, I had hoped I wouldn’t have to write this particular post, but since Miami lost and people feel the need to pile it on his shoulders I felt I just had to have my say on this entire matter.

Man, where is this hate coming from? This man hasn’t been caught doing drugs or drinking. He hasn’t been caught beating women, cheating on women or having multiple babies by multiple women. He hasn’t said a bad thing about anyone that hasn’t said a bad thing about him first. He didn’t get caught in some kind of scandal; he hasn’t broken any laws.

What did he do that made so many people mad? He uttered one phrase: “I’m taking my talents to Miami.” Really, that’s it? That’s the thing worth beating him up about? Oh yeah, he did it on national TV, ESPN to be exact, in a hour long show. Ooohhh, the humanity!

Sheesh people, let’s get a life. Let’s look at some reality here. So Cleveland fans were upset; who cares? What did he do to the rest of the league? So he decided to join two other young superstars to try to win a championship. So did Kevin Garnett when he teamed with Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. Anyone ever heard the name Earl Monroe, who had to leave Washington for the NY Knicks to play with 4 other future Hall of Famers to win his championship (okay, one of those guys made it as a coach, but he’s still in, or will be)? Did people beat up on Karl Malone, who left Utah to go to the LA Lakers to try to win his championship with Shaq and Kobe? For that matter did people beat up on Charles Barkley, who’s been beating up on LeBron James, for trying to do the same thing when he went to Phoenix many years ago to join Clyde Drexler and Kevin Johnson in trying to win a championship?

Does anyone care that it was ESPN that came up with the idea of doing the special in the first place, and yet all these ESPN analysts keep beating up on him instead of their own network? Does anyone care that doing that show raised almost $3 million for charity? Does anyone care that he left employment at a place he didn’t want to be anymore (something many of us have done) to go take another job with a pay cut (something none of us would have done)? Are people really so jealous and vain that they would deny a 25-year old (yes, by the way he’s still only 25) the opportunity to try to improve his lot?

No, I’m not hating on LeBron James now or ever, unless he does something illegal or really, really stupid. So he didn’t win this year; how many superstars have lost more than once before finally winning it all? How many of us have former employers dumping on us publicly because we left their employ, and would we like it if it happened to us? For that matter look at the governor of the state dumping on him; how childish is that? This man put your state on the map for something other than being a cesspool and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (yeah, I said it); just asking, but where did Cleveland basketball end up this year? For that matter where did either of your football teams end up? And how do you turn your back on someone that brought his all to you for 10 years of his life? Shame on you.

Yeah, I know, this post won’t necessarily be popular, and it’s kind of a deviation from the norm, but come on folks. Isn’t this what we paid for when free agency was made legal? In the scope of things is this really worth the derision?

Go on with your bad self, LeBron. So you didn’t win; I’m sure you will. And to keep it all honest, I’ll still be pulling for the Lakers as my main team, and I’ll be pulling for the Knicks as my team that’s in your division. But if those two teams can’t win, then you’re allowed to take the Heat to the top.

Just don’t beat my teams. 🙂

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I know we’ve gotten into it over this in the past Mitch: one more attempt to explain my negative viewpoint on LeBron.

1) I fully support anyone’s decision to seek a new job. It’s his career, not ours. However, “The Decision” was a crappy way to do it. He was a hometown guy, playing for hometown fans, in an area of the country that has been struggling. He didn’t have to rub it in their face. Even if it was ESPN’s idea, it was his choice to do it. It was a stupid move on his part.

2) I’m starting to believe that a lot of the hate has been manufactured. Sports talk radio has been a cesspool of haters during the entire year–and the playoffs only made things worse. And the ratings went through the roof! Lots of people are making a lot of money off the hate, too much money for them to give up! So the hate continues to roll.

3) If the NBA doesn’t self-destruct next year, I expect the Heat will be right back in the thick of things. (But I hope the Knicks kick their butts!)

June 15th, 2011 | 9:33 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

Hey Phil,

I think in retrospect it wasn’t the best of ideas, but I don’t think anyone could have predicted the backlash it caused. I knew beforehand it was being done for charity, and I guess that’s all I focused on. It never even occurred to me that he’d be going back to Cleveland, so the shock those people felt was the same one would get if they really believed the prettiest girl in class loved them even while going out with the school’s top jock.

And you’re right, the hate has really been built up by the same media that built him up, and it’s unfair; it’s gone the route of gossip magazines with entertainment celebs. I’m also hoping the NBA learns a big lesson from what’s happening right now with football.

June 15th, 2011 | 10:10 AM

Hi Mitch,

I’m not a hug basketball fan .. and I definitely wouldn’t consider myself a Lebron “hater”.

That said, I do have to agree with Phil on at least one point .. regardless of who’s idea it was, I think that “The Decision” will be looked back on as a boneheaded PR move … and as the primary reason that, no matter how good he plays in the future, Lebron will most likely never be held in the same esteem as Michael Jordan.

Just my opinion.

June 15th, 2011 | 7:35 PM
Mitch Mitchell:

Todd, I don’t think that will be his legacy. I think it will all depend on whether he and his teams can ever win the big one. I think it was pretty amazing that they made it to the finals to begin with, no matter what people were thinking at the beginning of the season, and it was a direct result of his and Wade’s play. And it’s not that he’s my favorite player either; I just hate the piling on, which seems ridiculous. I mean, come on, the governor of the state where he still owns property and pays taxes and has raised lots of money for charity gloats when his own team finished last? Nope, can’t support that.

June 15th, 2011 | 9:57 PM

Mitch, I think you are big fan of basketball. Honestly our opinions overlap to some extends. I don’t have much chance to watch NBA recently, the timezone and the work don’t give me a big chance.

June 16th, 2011 | 4:01 AM
Andrew Walker:

Hi Mitch. You know.. i think LeBron still needs some time to make him better. Maybe in 1 or 2 more seasons, he can lead Heat to be NBA champion. Who knows?

June 16th, 2011 | 9:02 PM
Mitch Mitchell:

Andrew, you could be right. He was so close this year but I really think the team was missing a major piece that I thought Mike Bibby was going to close, but he turns out to be a shell of his former self.

June 16th, 2011 | 10:39 PM

OK–now here’s what a REAL Cleveland Cavs and LeBron fan thinks. Everyone has been down on the way LeBron exited Cleveland. No, it wasn’t the best move but if they had gotten rid of that bonehead coach and if one of the players hadn’t been screwing LeBron’s mama, he might’ve stayed.

But there’s a deeper issue here in my opinion. LeBron needs some serious work with a sports pychologist or outside coach. He choked in games 3 and 4 of the series and the same thing happened in game 4 of the series with the San Antonio Spurs and with the Celtics.

Everyone sees his greatness during the regular season and early on in the playoffs—but maybe there is a psychological block that keeps him from turning it up another notch at the serious crunch time—like Michael Jordan did when he scored 60 points with the flu (remember that?)

The Cleveland owner behaved when LeBron left has left a really bad taste in my mouth eventhough I have been a fan since I could walk and talk.

I do wish LeBron well but I do think he may need some additional help.

Also, the Heat coach OUT COACHED in the series.

June 16th, 2011 | 10:57 PM
Mitch Mitchell:

Now Bev, this is a wonderful comment on this topic; thanks!

My take is that you haven’t said one incorrect thing here, but I’d add that the team owner messed things up as well. I think if LeBron had been able to win that one big game, that one championship, he never leaves the team. That the owner couldn’t convince even one really good player to join the team says volumes. And seeing how the guy reacted after LeBron decided to leave; I know I’d never join a team like that, although many people still did join the Yankees when Steinbrenner was a real jerk.

You know my true belief? This team was a “good” point guard away from winning this championship. I though Mike Bibby was a great pickup at midseason, but he’s only a shell of his former self. With someone else to distribute the ball I think LeBron can just post up and play his game and not have to also try to be the point guard. Same with Wade, and definitely with Bosh. When Dallas played that little guy, he was a true point guard in that situation. You put Steve Nash on this team and they beat Dallas in a sweep.

I like how you’ve thought about this. LeBron isn’t a bad guy. In a way, I see him as still a kid, even though he’s been in the league 7 years. He’s never had a team mentor like Kobe did, whether Kobe liked it or not. He came in as the man without even one year of college training, and I think that shows as far as killer instinct. That’s probably the great failing of kids going to the pros right out of high school; even the most talented need someone to lean on. Garnett was never going to win in Minnesota, and he’s the closest thing to LeBron I can think of, who did the same thing, only with a much better coach.

Thanks for this, Bev; great perspective once again!

June 16th, 2011 | 11:15 PM

Hi Mitch,
this Nba season was one of the best seasons I’ve seen! The only thing I would like to say is that LeBron, didn’t give me anything this year. When he was in Cleveland, I was waiting to see the next match. When Lakers won, he said, Kobe didn’t play well at the end but he had good team mates and Lakers won the championship. I think he wanted to join Miami just to know that even if he wouldn’t play well in some games, Wade and Bosh would cover him. That’s why they lost this year. I believe he thought that they are three, one of them will play good, and at the finals he didn’t play at all.

June 17th, 2011 | 2:03 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

John, he certainly didn’t look like the second coming in the finals this year, but he was phenomenal before then. That’s why I said he’s no Michael Jordan, but he’s still very good and I just don’t like the hate that’s piled onto him for doing what literally is an insignificant thing.

June 17th, 2011 | 11:17 AM

Hi Mitch

Too funny. sounds like people in US take their sport and sport stars very seriously…just like here in Oz lol

And I have heard of Michael Jordan but not this other guy. So he mustn’t yet be too famous 😉

Have a great w/end Mitch.

Patricia Perth Australia

June 18th, 2011 | 4:27 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

Actually Pat, he’s quite famous, helping the U.S. capture the last Olympic gold medal. But he hasn’t won a championship yet, and that’s a real measure for many people.

June 18th, 2011 | 12:04 PM

before posting this comment,I read your comment policy.
As far as LeBron is in question,I like the idea you are defending him for a good reason.But,people are like that,they have to blame someone,they are never happy. He is an excellent player, though, and he will have even more chances in life to prove his qualities.In addition to it,I don’t like when athletes are being compared between each other, as they are trying to do with LeBron and MJ. They are both great, it doesn’t matter who is the best…they are different generations and MJ is retired for a long time, so it is no use of comparing their talents, anyway.What good did it ever bring?

June 30th, 2011 | 9:39 PM
Mitch Mitchell:

Great stuff Kristina, and thanks for actually reading the comment policy. 🙂 People always start comparing one person with another, whether it’s sports, entertainment, or even within families. I don’t have a problem with that unless someone is doing it to put someone down. Also, it can put pressure on people; over the years, how many people have been called the next Michael Jordan? And how many have even come close to living up to that? LeBron has done well; if people are going to hate on him, find the right thing to hate on him for; otherwise, find someone to hate that really deserves it.

June 30th, 2011 | 11:52 PM