The Internet and ESPN Made Us Hate LeBron James

Jun 17, 2012 by


On Thursday after work, I walked into the BP to grab some beer.  As I stood in line to pay, I overheard the following exchange between the customer ahead of me and the cashier.

Customer: “Big game tonight, need my Heat to take this one.  Tie this series up.”

Cashier: (Mumbled incoherently, followed by a question I did manage to make out.) “Heat your team?”

Customer: “I am a fan of the King, so yeah the Heat is my team.”

Customer: “Everyone hating on the Heat, fuck that shit.  You know Yahoo says the dude that ate the face off that homeless guy was a Miami Heat fan?  What the fuck.  Who gives a shit?” (Walks out of the store)

Cashier: (Laughing)

Me: (Smiling and thinking this was the most logical thing I’d heard all day)

**********

LeBron James received an outlet pass, blew by a few Celtic defenders, took off in flight from what appeared to be the three point line and reared back his arm forcefully slamming the ball through the hoop.  This gave the Heat a fourth quarter lead in game seven of the Eastern Conference finals.  Minutes later he repeated the same act, this time I thought his head was going to brush the shot clock high above the backboard.  It was over.  The Celtics fell behind even more and did not have the legs to keep up with the younger Heat.  My brother stopped watching and made his way to bed well before LeBron shook the arena with those two dunks.  I guess his gut told him the Celtics fate before LeBron made it a reality.

It was a highly entertaining series even though the outcome did not turn out the way I hoped.  I thought the difference in the series came down to LeBron’s brilliant play and the return of Chris Bosh.  Dwayne Wade was disappointing all series long.  Whether he was worn down by the physical nature of playoff games or nursing some injury, I can’t say for sure.  It seems that Wade is settling on off-balanced jumpers, making him one-dimensional.  It will be interesting to see in the years ahead if he can learn to develop a mid-range game, so he does not have to rely so much on taking hard hits driving the lane.  He is now at that NBA crossroads where his age where won’t allow him to continue relying on his explosiveness.  It catches up with all the NBA greats.  Wade must make a decided effort to add more to his game if he wants to continue to contribute at an elite level.

Outside of LeBron’s exceptional play all series; it was Bosh’s sharp shooting, especially in game seven, and tough play on Kevin Garnett that were the deciding factors.  The Heat knew they had no one to really put a stop to Rondo, so they made sure Pierce was held in check.  I am not sure if it was the Heat’s defense that led to the poor shooting all series from Pierce, or his ailing knee and age.

I watched the post game celebration as the Heat players adjusted their Eastern Conference championship hats over their heads and headed towards the podium to receive their conference finals trophy.  Normally if my team is bounced out, I turn the station or head to bed before the opposing team’s celebratory moment.  This time I was not overcome with emotions of bitterness or discontent.  I thought my Celtics gave it their all, especially considering Ray Allen’s dreadful series play and Pierce throwing bricks night in and night out.  That the Celtics even had a chance at pulling this series out was met with satisfaction; it would be selfish of me to ask any more of this team.  There isn’t much you can do when the world’s best player is draining shots from everywhere on the court.  Sometimes you just have to admire the accomplishment and that is exactly what I did.

According to NBA analysts, and by that I mean all of them, the Heat would roll the Celtics in this series.  Not once did one of them predict the Celtics pushing the Heat to a decisive seventh game. (Rarely did I hear a mention of even six games)  However, my favorites were the post-game knee-jerk reactions, particularly after a Miami loss.  We would get former NBA greats – Magic Johnson – throw out phrases such as “heart of a champion”, “playoff experienced” when speaking of the Celtics and “lack of urgency” or “no leadership” when describing the Heat.

It was at its worst when the Heat lost game five on their home court.  When Stephen A. Smith made his appearance in the ESPN studios to give his post-game thoughts, you would have thought the city of Miami succumbed to the rule of Castro.  Smith’s over emotional rant was plain bullshit, as he looked right into the camera and told viewers that this was the fatal blow for the Heat.  Then a shit shower of words to express how devastating this loss was for the organization, the city, LeBron…..and yes the future of the Big 3 in Miami.   It was the emotional equivalent of three women on their menstrual cycle watching the film Titanic.  As I watched the train wreck of embarrassing coverage barrel, I kept thinking, its only three games to two.  The Heat could easily win game six and then head home for game seven; the momentum could change on a dime.  The advantage of a home court in game seven in the NBA is monumental.  I guess if an analyst had these thoughts to share it would make for less dramatic coverage.

Apparently they knew what they were doing; the Heat/Celtics series scored huge ratings for ABC and ESPN, making it one of the highest rated series in years.  Well played media.

I’ve fallen into this trap, piling on LeBron myself, especially with this piece I wrote last fall.  I still stand by the psychological reasoning he jumped ship from Cleveland to Miami.  However, that has noting to do with I rot against LeBron and the Heat – they are my Celtics main road block heading back to the finals, that’s all the reason I need.

However you feel about LeBron James, you have to admit he’s been the best player in the playoffs.  He has backed up his well deserved 3rd regular season MVP by playing out of his mind on the Heats run to the finals.  LeBron has done what his critics have been asking him to do all along, take this team on his back and show the word your ungodly talent.  This is exactly what he did, even with his team on the verge of being bounced by their older counterparts.  Does everyone remember Game six of the Eastern Conference finals?  Anyone? Dwayne Wade or the resurgence of Chris Bosh has not been the true deciding factor regarding the Heat’s run – it’s been all LeBron James.  So far, through twenty playoff games he’s averaged 30.8 ppg, 9.5 rpg, 5.1 apg, 2 spg, and is shooting .502% from the field.  All the aforementioned categories, besides the assists, exceed his averages during the regular season.  Has James been perfect? No.  However, outside of game in the Pacers series, he has been consistent, and by that I mean MVP consistent.

I think it’s time for America to throw their collective hatred towards another athlete.  Think about it, Tiger Woods remains popular, sure he has his two opposers (I am one and the other being his ex-wife), but the consensus is that America is still smitten with this Ambian and Vicodin popping porn star fucking PGA golfer.  Somehow, the Tiger Woods likeability logic is all but thrown out when it comes to LeBron James.  I am not one to morally judge anyone but I question why America loves Tiger unconditionally and wish nothing but the worst for LeBron?

Think it’s because Tiger plays a different Sport?  Let’s look within the NBA and a couple of other all-time greats, Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant. Jordan and Bryant are adored by the majority of sports fans.  Michael Jordan is a confirmed dick and Kobe was accused of rape…..rape for chrissakes!   But we can’t fucking stand LeBron because he’s the originator of the most horrendous phrase ever spoken; “I am taking my talents to South Beach.”

I ask people all the time what is it they like so much about Tiger Woods or Michael Jordan.  The answer is basically like hearing a prerecorded response.  They are likeable sports figures due to the simple fact that they love watching someone do something that no one can do on the planet.  They enjoy every bit of the genius that these two athletes demonstrate.  I listen, and then I ask one follow up question, “Do you feel the same about LeBron James?”  I never really listen to the answer to my question because everyone begins attacking his character, so I tune the out.  Last I checked no one on the planet can guard all five positions, score from basically anywhere on the court, and no one in the history of basketball can block an opponent’s breakaway layup or dunk attempt better than LeBron.  Tell me if anyone has been given an NBA physique by the age of sixteen.  The motherfucker was built for the NBA, it’s like he was created by a group of Japanese scientists or something.  For a 6’8” 250 pound man to possess the leaping ability he has seems physically impossible…well you get my point.

Maybe David Stern made a deal with the devil.  In exchange for high ratings and even higher profits; Stern signed over the rights to LeBron’s soul to Satan himself.   Now Satan has NBA representation from the likes of a good-natured basketball prodigy hailing from Akron, Ohio.  That really is the most logical explanation I can come up with.

Today our sports stars are covered by non-sports media outlets such as TMZ.  LeBron can give to charity, never cause an on court brawl, experience legal problems, cheat on his wife, or go bat-shit crazy like a Metta World Peace or Dennis Rodman, and still be regarded as an evil man.  He is vilified for listening to his elders regarding one particular summer of his youth when he became a free agent.  The world of 24/7 news cycle needs to keep viewers entertained every second, exploiting the minutiae of every decision and action.  Thank your lucky stars that someone is not covering your every boneheaded move or ignorant thing that came out of your mouth.

Your opinions are based on how the media formulates a story.  Your hatred of LeBron has nothing to do with his signing with the Heat.  You’re not upset about the disco party Wade, Bosh and James threw after the signing.  It’s the angle that sportswriters, internet bloggers, and ESPN took to cover LeBron’s free agency during the summer of 2010.  No NBA fan with half a brain ever thought that LeBron would re-sign with Cleveland, nor did Cleveland’s brat of an owner.  The 20 or so Cleveland Cavalier fans before the LeBron era are the only ones I give a free pass to regarding their feeling of betrayal when LeBron signed elsewhere.  No other sports fan should care, because each of you, when the opportunity arose to get the fuck out of Cleveland, would have done the exact same thing.

The media is so powerful.  Its current structure will continue to play an even larger role in what you believe is right and wrong, who you like and dislike, how you should vote, and where your allegiances fall.   The corporatization of media outlets has led to news being told through a corporation’s specific agenda.  In 1983, there were fifty or so media companies, now with consolidation, we are down to a measly six. When only a select few control the media we no longer receive true journalism.  Corporations control what is reported and how it’s reported.  Not only is this dangerous in terms of political journalism but it’s scary that all Americans are beginning to form their opinions from the bullshit fed to them by large organizations and their carless and selfish means.

Form your own opinion regarding your sports stars, and not because you bought into the poison spit out from the likes of an emotional television personality such as Stephan A. Smith.  I challenge everyone to base your dislike of a player because they came up short for your team in the 4th quarter or they dropped 45 points on your team in a potentially series clinching game.  Whether LeBron’s personality lacks the playfulness of Shaquille O’Neal, the stoicism of Larry Bird or even the exuberant banter of Charles Barkley, doesn’t make him unlikeable.  We love our athletes not because of their oratory skill set, community involvement, products they hawk or fashion sense , we love them for the feelings we get from watching do what they do at their best, or worst, on the fields and courts.  I am not sure why LeBron is the exception.

LeBron signed with Miami because he wanted to play for championships come June, and he thought playing alongside Wade gave him the best opportunity to do so.  This is exactly what has happened.  The Heat are going to make it very difficult for the Oklahoma City Thunder to win this series.  LeBron James is going to get a championship someday whether you like it or not, he’s just too good not to.  It’s time for everyone to accept it.

That being said, I am rooting for Oklahoma City to take this NBA Championship.   Mostly due to the fact that I do not like Dwayne Wade’s black rimmed imitation glasses he sports during post game press conferences.  Dwayne Wade has perfectly fine eyesight which makes his stupid glasses nothing more than a fashion accessory.  According to ESPN Kevin Durant does no wrong, so for me he gets a pass for his doing the exact same thing.

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2 Comments

  1. Alex Allister

    Matt, this a sensational article. I feel like we are in the same boat with Lebron. The guy is the best in the NBA whether people want to admit it or not and will probably win a few rings. Although, I would not discredit “the decision” blunder and “the circus” where he counted 7 championships before he ever had 1. This turned me off and I still cannot see myself root for him.

  2. Derek

    I realized James was trash before his asinine ESPN/South Beach show or his “humble” statement directed at the fans about how when we wake up we’ll still have our problems but he’ll still be Lebron James.

    Around 2007 or 2008, there was a video circulating the internet showing Lebron at a pool party that was obviously for adults only. There were topless, yes topless women everywhere, as well as drinking. He was there with his toddler aged son.

    I lost respect for him immediately.

    I don’t care what he claims to do for charity or how he plays on the court. Anyone who parties with his underage child in that type of environment should not be allowed to have a child.

    It’s not difficult to dislike people like him.

    Response?

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