Written by Sean Meyers
LeBron James is the best basketball player in the world, but I still hate him.
On Thursday, James and the Miami Heat captured their second consecutive NBA championship. For the second straight year, James was awarded the Finals MVP. He also won the regular season Most Valuable Player, for the fourth time.
He is, without a doubt, the best offensive player in the league, and probably the best on defense, as well. Currently, he has no equal; not Durant, not Kobe, not Carmelo. There is a legitimate chance he could have a 10-year span as the best player in the game.
He came into the NBA directly from high school in 2003, and played at an All-Star level as a rookie. Since then, he has improved every single season. It’s almost unfathomable that he continues to improve, and at age 28, he could still get better.
He is a human highlight reel. He can fly like Blake Griffin, pass like Chris Paul, and swat shots like Serge Ibaka. There is nothing on the basketball court he cannot do. He already could be considered one of the 10 best players in NBA history, and nobody could reasonably question his greatness.
Despite all of his amazing attributes on the court, however, I still find plenty of reasons to root against him. Just like Tiger Woods in his prime, James is atop the sports world, and he elicits strong emotions from just about anybody that cares about sports. Millions of people love him, but perhaps even more hate him.
There has been a lot of talk about “LeBron haters” recently, with many of James’ supporters believing this latest championship should shut them up. Indeed, anybody that questioned LeBron’s talent, or clutch performances, or ability to win on the biggest stage, should be silenced by his heroic efforts the past two years.
But for all of those people, like myself, that dislike him for reasons aside from his game, there is ample evidence of his shortcomings.
James has never encountered the legal or personal issues that have plagued some of this generation’s greatest athletes. He has never had a steroids scandal like so many baseball stars including Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Roger Clemens. He’s never faced damaging sexually allegations like Kobe Bryant and Ben Roethlisberger. And thankfully, he has never been involved or linked to a horrible act like Michael Vick, Ray Lewis, and just recently, Aaron Hernandez.
Despite this, I’ve come up with a series of reasons why I am not a supporter of the King.
- The decision – Yes, this was almost three years ago. Most of the media has moved on, and forgiven him for what is almost unanimously perceived as a public relations disaster. James put himself, and his free agency process, in the spotlight unlike any other athlete in sports history, by concocting a primetime special to announce where he would sign following the 2010 season. With four or five teams in the running, he basically held all of the management, players, and fans of those teams in the palm of his hand. Instead of privately informing those organizations, especially Cleveland, of his intentions to sign with Miami, he made them find out with the rest of the world. His choice, itself, was and perhaps forever will be questioned. He had an opportunity to choose loyalty to Cleveland, and a unique chance to play the vast majority for his career near his home town. He could ‘ve gone to New York to play on the biggest stage in the world, and have a team built around him. If he returned the Knicks to prominence, he would’ve perhaps been the biggest legend in New York sports history. Instead, he chose to play with his friends, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade, in Miami. Wade had already won a championship, and many viewed this as the easiest way for James to win. At this time, ESPN’s Bill Simmons chimed in with a similar sentiment.
I think it’s a cop-out. Any super-competitive person would rather beat Dwyane Wade than play with him. Don’t you want to find the Ali to your Frazier and have that rival pull the greatness out of you? That’s why I’m holding out hope that LeBron signs with New York or Chicago (or stays in Cleveland), because he’d be saying, “Fine. Kobe, Dwight and Melo all have their teams. Wade and Bosh have their team. The Celtics are still there. Durant’s team is coming. I’m gonna go out and build MY team, and I’m kicking all their asses.” That’s what Jordan would have done. Hell, that’s what Kobe would have done. In May, after the Cavs were ousted in the conference semifinals, I wrote that LeBron was facing one of the greatest sports decisions ever: “winning (Chicago), loyalty (Cleveland) or a chance at immortality (New York). “I never thought he would pick “HELP!”
Read the full article, http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=simmons/100708
- Cavs vs. Celtics, Game 5 – Many people suspect that LeBron James, in perhaps the biggest game of his final season in Cleveland, quit on his team. I have no idea what the reality is. I don’t think anybody aside from James himself really knows. Never prior nor since this game has there been any reason to question James’ effort. This game, however, seemed different. The Cavaliers owner and many fans, alike, have accused James of quitting on the team. With his impending free agency looming, maybe James wanted a way out of Cleveland. Maybe he just had an off-night.
Read further on this topic, http://bleacherreport.com/articles/527964-nba-heated-homecoming-celtics-vs-cavaliers-game-5-did-lebron-quit
- The dunk contest – It is widely accepted that James has been one of, if not the very best athlete in the league since his arrival. His amazing size and strength combined with his speed and leaping ability often result in some of the most impressive dunk highlights fans have ever seen. Despite this, LeBron has never entered the annual slam dunk contest. Millions of his fans have hoped to see their favorite superstar compete, and likely win, this fun competition. All of those fans have been disappointed, and will continue to be so. James has said that he will never enter a dunk contest. Even when he did claim he would participate, he backed out of it. Sure, its LeBron’s prerogative to not compete if he does not want to, but that fact should not be lost on the fans. An article from Ball Don’t Lie gives some details about James’ disappointing decision.
- Flopping – LeBron flops. Badly. Although this practice to draw a charge call has been around for a long time, it has always looked ridiculous. It appears even more absurd when James, who stands 6-foot-8 and weighs 250 pounds, falls violently to the ground when he is barely (or sometimes not at all) touched. .One particular flop stands out, against Indiana this postseason. Sports Illustrated gives the background information on the play, as well as multiple videos.
James had not received a warning or fine during the regular season under the NBA’s anti-flopping policy, and he spoke out against flopping during the conference semifinals. “I don’t need to flop,” he said. “I play an aggressive game. I don’t flop. I’ve never been one of those guys.”
Read the full article and watch the videos, http://nba.si.com/2013/06/01/lebron-james-flop-paul-george-video-miami-heat-indiana-pacers-game-6/
- Being underpaid, the Las Vegas cover-up– Two other notable and borderline ridiculous stories bout James.
In the first story, James claims he does not get enough credit for not taking the max contract.
LeBron James doesn’t think it’s possible to be paid his actual value under the current NBA rules. Because of it, he said, he’s been willing to “sacrifice” on his contracts.
Also, James reportedly threw quite a party in Las Vegas. When a reporter produced a story on it, ESPN pulled it almost instantly.
Recently reporter Arash Markazi for ESPNLosAngeles.com had the opportunity to party with LeBron James in Las Vegas, and the subsequent story he wrote about his experiences was pulled by ESPN. The story chronicled an event that was straight out of a dream for most men, here is an excerpt from the story to give you the full effect.
Bottle after bottle of “Ace of Spades” champagne is delivered to the table by a waiter flying down from above the dance floor like some overgrown Peter Pan on a wire. One time he’s dressed like a King, another time as Indiana Jones and another in a replica of James’ No. 6 Miami Heat jersey.
For the full stories, http://espn.go.com/new-york/nba/story/_/id/8905486/lebron-james-think-paid-value-current-cba
In a vacuum, maybe none of these stories are reason enough to despise an athlete. For me, though, the aforementioned aspects have given me ample reason to root against King James.