Thursday, June 12, 2014

"Why Don't People Like LeBron?" by Bojo

Despite my less-than-creative title (it’s been a long week), I think the unique way the public seems to feel about LeBron James is certainly worthy of a discussion. He seems to inspire a unique and not-seen-before type of vitriol, and while this may be a function of the fact that he is the most prominent athletic superstar since the Twitter age began, no other athlete these days seems to be as unexplainably controversial.

So what gives?

I personally have a two-pronged theory. The first part of that theory is that LeBron suffers from what I call A-Rod syndrome: basically a complete inability to relate to us mere mortals, and as a result, an incredibly self-conscious and awkward public persona. Related to this A-Rod syndrome is a strange lack of self awareness, best exhibited by The Decision, but manifesting itself in everything from his dramatic on-court exits because of cramps, to his on-going Twitter battles about his hairline. I think these things, while hard to verbalize, can be picked up on by the public, and it results in a weird relationship between star and fan.

The second part of my theory is summed up well by a quote from The Wire: ‘If you come at the king, you best not miss.’ In this analogy, Michael Jordan is the king. The second that LeBron walked away from Cleveland and abandoned what would have been a truly amazing story line if he had brought championships to his forlorn hometown, to team up with (not one) but two other dominant players, he went down an irreversible path of definitely not coming at the king in a correct way. He had already missed his mark.

So even if he truly wasn’t taking the easy way out (who knows the true depths of how inept Cavalier management was in those days), the truly triumphant story line of LeBron’s career- the hometown hero elevating both himself and his city- was abandoned. Everything else that came after that could always, at least in the eyes of the dubious, be considered a disappointment. And I think that is exactly what has been seen over his years in Miami, despite their unarguable success.

So, fair or not, that is my best summation of a truly unique, and distinctly 21st century sports media happening. I almost enjoy sitting back and watching what surrounds LeBron as much as I do what he does on the court, even though I think all of it is unfair to LeBron the man. But, at the end of the end of the day, if you come at the king, it really is in your best interest not to miss.