Thursday, July 8, 2010– a day that will live in infamy. That is, of course, the day that LeBron James ceased to be a hero and drew the ire of basketball fans across the globe by announcing that he was going to “take his talents to South Beach” and play for the Miami Heat.
*I really like the phrase “taking my talents to ____”. I wonder if LeBron continues to use it in his daily life, as in “LeBron Jr. and Bryce need some diapers…I’m taking my talents to the grocery store” or “Honey, would you mind taking your talents to the kitchen and making me a sandwich?” If he doesn’t do this, he needs to start immediately.
Since then LeBron has not done much to repair his public image besides being his usual self on the court. Off the court LeBron has continued to be a mess, like earlier this season when he suggested that racism played a part in the negative backlash from “The Decision”.
Most recently, LeBron got in trouble for insinuating that the New Jersey Nets and the Minnesota Timberwolves should be contracted and their better players dispersed throughout the league:
Imagine if you could take Kevin Love off Minnesota and add him to another team and you shrink the [league]. Looking at some of the teams that aren’t that great, you take Brook Lopez or you take Devin Harris off these teams that aren’t that good right now and you add him to a team that could be really good. Not saying let’s take New Jersey and let’s take Minnesota out of the league. But hey, you guys are not stupid, I’m not stupid, it would be great for the league.
Controversial to say the least, but nothing that people haven’t mentioned before. It’s just that it’s LeBron who’s saying it. That’s what makes it offensive and arrogant…but there’s nothing wrong with that.
LeBron’s mistakes aren’t his actions or comments themselves, but his reactions. A few weeks after “The Decision,” a broad spectacle of egocentricity and poor decision-making, LeBron came out and said that if he had it to do over again, he would do things differently.
Similarly, a day after his “contraction” comments made national headlines he backpedaled, saying:
That’s crazy, because I had no idea what the word ‘contraction’ meant before I saw it on the Internet … That word never even came out of my mouth. I was just saying how the league was back in the 80s and how it could be good again. I never said, ‘Let’s take some of the teams out.’
Well, LeBron, that’s true. You may not have said the word contraction, but go back and read your own comments. I’m not stupid. You’re not stupid. We all know you were talking about contraction. You say you didn’t know what the word “contraction” meant? Well it means “shrink the league”…which you said in your comments…it’s a synonym.
Something about LeBron’s fake apology didn’t sit right with me. Then it hit me. The idea dawned on me when I was flipping through the channels and saw some WWE action on tv. The reigning champion, The Miz (former Real World/Road Rules Challenge alum), was addressing the crowd and he was assailing the former “supposed greats” of wrestling. He was being as irreverent as possible, dragging the legendary names of Bob Backlund, Harley Race, and Jerry “The King” Lawler through the mud.
That’s when I looked at the crowd. They were booing the crap out of him. Grown men were yelling and shouting “Sit down, bum!” But the crowd was loving absolutely every second of it. That’s when it dawned on me. LeBron James is a bad guy.
And there’s nothing wrong with that. Wrestling is filled with them. Movies are filled with them. They’ve even existed in basketball (The Bad Boy Pistons teams). Everybody loves to hate a villain and, whether he likes it or not, that’s what LeBron is. The most recent contraction comments just highlight his arrogance and ignorance. So why not stop apologizing and embrace it?
Just imagine LeBron’s postgame interview after the Heat destroy the Nets in their next game:
“LeBron, how did you feel getting booed all night because of your comments towards the Nets?”
“It felt great. Those Jersey idiots have spent too much time in the tanning salon. We won by 30 points and I didn’t even play the second half. They’re a pathetic excuse for an NBA franchise. Honestly, I have more competitive one-on-one games with Dwyane’s 7-year-old neice. In fact, why am I even talking about this? This press conference is over.”
So LeBron, if you know what’s good for you, stop apologizing. Stop trying to be a misunderstood nice guy and just embrace the fact that people hate you. You might just gain some fans in the process.
And while you’re at it, study film on this guy. Just imagine one of those ABC promos with LeBron delivering this message to Kobe Bryant. Where Perfection Happens.