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The Hate That LeBron James Haters Produced

“You wanna hate me then hate me; what can I do”—Nas, featuring Puff Daddy (now Diddy), “Hate Me Now” (1999)

America has thrived on the notion of heroes and villains since the so-called settlers came and killed off Native Americans, the real owners of this land that we call our land, centuries back. Since then we’ve had cowboys versus Indians, Americans versus Russians, cops versus robbers, Muhammad Ali versus George Foreman, and, suddenly, the goodness of Kevin Durant versus the evil that is LeBron James. But….

There is something profoundly wrong with any people, any society, where someone can possess the attributes of success, achievement, bottomless talent, and a squeaky clean personal life, yet be so routinely hated by so many. That is the dilemma of one LeBron Raymone James, the greatest basketball player on the planet Earth. I hear you Kevin Durant fans. Yes KD can rock with the best of them offensively but when he plays defense and makes the NBA All-Defensive First Team like Bron then we can talk. And when KD can literally will his team to victory, as LeBron did in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals, with the Heat’s season on the line, scoring 45 points in the process, including several very difficult shots, then we can talk. Until then, LeBron James remains the greatest hoop show on earth and, oh yeah, one of the most despised—

But such is the sad culture of disrespect and venom so many of us unwittingly inhale in these times. Because if we look, with basic honesty in our hearts, at LeBron James’ career, his statistical averages through his first nine seasons are exceptional: 27.6 points per game, 6.8 assists per game, and 7.2 rebounds per game. Compare that with NBA Hall of Famers like Magic Johnson (19.5 points per game, 11.2 assists per game, 7.2 rebounds per game), Larry Bird (24.3 points per game, 6.3 assists per game, and 10 rebounds per game), and Michael Jordan (30.1 points per game, 5.3 assists per game, and 6.2 rebounds per game) and you see, quite easily, that James matches up with some of the greatest basketball players ever. And the same goes for his playoff career stats, too.

And even if LBJ does not finally win his first championship this June against the Oklahoma City Thunder, or never wins one, he would still be ranked among the best NBA players to run a hardwood floor, joining ringless bball royalty like Charles Barkley, John Stockton, Karl Malone, Elgin Baylor, Dominique Wilkins, Patrick Ewing, and Steve Nash (still playing and still waiting).

Will it suck that a player of LeBron James’ otherworldly skill sets did not win at least one NBA championship? Of course it will. But will it diminish the magnitude of his being the most gifted and genius kind of athlete? No. Dan Marino, with zero Super Bowl rings, will always be in conversations about the top quarterbacks to play in the NFL. Ted Williams, arguably the best batter in baseball history and the last to bat .400 or better in a full season (1941), never won a World Series but is forever cited as the model for pure and effortless hitting.

So if we are going to call James a loser, among other choice names, we need to add the aforementioned athletes to that list, too. And many more besides them.

But I feel there is something much deeper at work here. It is the old intersection of sports, money and, yes, race, in America, and how those three things not only fuel our pop culture machine, but also how we think about these ballplayers. You think not? Let’s simply take a look at what happened to the first Black heavyweight champion of the world, and how he was treated. It wasn’t just because Jack Johnson was so brazen, in the age of lynchings no less, to parade White women around on his arm while showing off his fancy cars and clothing. It was also because Johnson was not the kind of Black man who was going to shuffle and jive enough to be accepted by White folks. Ditto was the case with Cassius Clay once he became Muhammad Ali. “The Greatest” may be revered now but people tend to forget there was an across-the-board national hatred for Ali because of that name change and his refusal to be drafted into the Vietnam War. And he paid a steep price with his bank account, popularity, and three years, in his prime, lost from boxing. Likewise with Curt Flood, a Black baseball player for the St. Louis Cardinals whose refusal, in 1969 (at the tail end of the Civil Rights Movement) to be traded to a team he did not want to play for, the Philadelphia Phillies, actually helped to spur the modern sports free agency system.

Flood said, matter of factly, when asked about his stance: “After twelve years in the major leagues, I do not feel I am a piece of property to be bought and sold irrespective of my wishes. I believe that any system which produces that result violates my basic rights as a citizen and is inconsistent with the laws of the United States and of the several States.”

And neither does LeBron James. Which is why he eased his Ohio player swag down the road pioneered by Curt Flood and opted, as a free agent, to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2010 for the Miami Heat. Now did I feel, as I watched it live, that James’ participation in ESPN’s “The Decision” was foolish and a poorly conceived spectacle? Absolutely. But to not mention that long-time sports journalist Jim Gray initiated the idea of “The Decision,” and to leave out, oh so methodically, all the charities that benefitted financially from that ESPN program, including the Boys and Girls Club, is downright dishonest, and was the beginning of James’ troubles with the media, with fans, and, heck, even with Black communities throughout America.

How could this happen, so swiftly, so absolutely? I started pondering this in a different way last week as I watched the Celtics-Heat series unfold. Jeff Van Gundy, former NBA coach and current commentator for ESPN and ABC, was blunt: “Two years is long enough for everyone to be mad at LeBron.” He is correct. Especially when all you folks pissed at LeBron ignore the basic facts of his life.

He was born in the middle of the crack cocaine era, in 1984, to an impoverished single mother who was but 16 at the time of his birth. He grew up, like so many of us ghetto youth, without his biological father (a formerly incarcerated person who abandoned the mother and son). He evolved into a teenage basketball prodigy by just his second year of high school, receiving national attention and coverage so intense that many were already mouthing “King James” and “The Chosen One” as he packed gyms wherever his high school team played. He would become the number one pick in the 2003 NBA draft, and as luck would have it, be drafted by his home state team, the Cavs. He would not only transform a horrific basketball wasteland into a winning one (with one trip to the NBA Finals where they lost to the San Antonio Spurs) but the spirit of an entire Midwestern city. Cleveland had never seen anything like LeBron James, not since the days of Jim Brown becoming a legendary and mythological running back for the Cleveland Browns in the 1950s and 1960s.

And people forget, because of our selective amnesia, that LBJ did in fact sign a contract extension with the Cavs after his first one expired before the start of the 2007-2008 season. So, in my opinion, he gave Cleveland all he could and what he got in return were mediocre coaches and players nowhere near the level of the role players Magic or Bird or Jordan or Kobe received as they pursued their hoop dreams.

And it seems like a long fortnight since LeBron James was so beloved by so many. It wasn’t just “The Decision” that angered mainstream media but also the rock star celebration the Heat orchestrated for him, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh (plain dumb). In a nano-second James had gone from the darling of the sports world to public enemy number one.

But that was two years ago.

Even as I rooted for the Dallas Mavericks to beat the Heat in last year’s NBA Finals, I never personally spewed the kind of contempt I see on my facebook and twitter pages, most of it directed toward LeBron James. “Arrogant,” “a punk,” “Hollywood,” “self-absorbed,” and many curse words I dare not repeat here.

What I find so amazing about this, and so incredibly twisted, is that James habitually gives back to communities in his native Ohio. In spite of the Cavs’ owner publicly attacking James and his decision to leave as if he somehow owned James and James somehow owed him more than the seven years of his life he had already given to the Cavs. And in spite of the fact that we never—never—hear of any personal indiscretions by LeBron James: no run-ins with the police, no rape or sexual assault charges, no allegations of domestic violence, no guns, no fights, no driving while drunk. Instead James is going to marry his high school sweetheart and mother of their two children. And James never fails to mention his unyielding love for his mother and what she did for him.

In an era of athletes gone mad James is really as clean-cut as Kevin Durant, and as positive, but because he chose to do things his way, to recognize the power he has as a superstar athlete in a way Magic, Bird, and Jordan never got to realize in their playing days, he is demonized for it. Add the fact that LeBron is not always smiling on the court, is a muscular Black man with lots of tattoos and a confidence that we are quick to describe as “scowling” and “disrespectful” (or “uppity” if we were living in another time in America), and little wonder that a multicultural army of haters hate on LeBron James so hard.

Yes, LeBron has made mistakes. Should have never said the Heat would win 5, 6, 7 NBA championships. Should have never posed on that Vogue cover playing King Kong to White-woman-in-distress Gisele. Racially backwards and ignorant. Should have never mocked Dirk Nowitzki being sick during the 2010 NBA Finals. Ditto for him and his teammates driving go carts around their arena after a Game 1 victory in that series.

But by the same token how many athletes, how many Black athletes, had the heart to don and pose in hoodies in support of slain Florida youth Trayvon Martin the way LeBron James, DWade, and their Heat teammates did, to show their solidarity? And how many so willingly give of their time and energy to so many causes as James does, including the supporting of various political candidates? Meanwhile Michael Jordan famously said, when asked to support a Democratic candidate years back, that Republicans buy shoes, too.

So, to me, the roots causes of the hate for LeBron James is not just due to basketball. They have everything to do with this celebrity-obsessed culture we did not create, yet are willing participants in. That means far too many of us, our lives so very inadequate and empty (and, yes, many of us are broke and living vicariously through the adventures and misadventures of these multi-million dollar ball players), have taken to seeing the modern professional athlete as a reality show that is interactive. We can cheer, scream, curse, and, yes, condemn, at will, right from our sofas. And then, of course, twitter and facebook make those actions so immediate, so urgent, that the scrutiny level on a LeBron James is amplified in ways that Magic, Bird, and Jordan could not have imagined a mere 20 years ago.

Moreover, it is not only White America that still, in spite of Barack Obama (or maybe because of Barack Obama), has a problem with Black males who do not go along to get along. Bron ain’t that kind of dude, and never will be. But, real talk, some of the most hateful, vile, and mean-spirited comments I’ve seen about LeBron James on the internet has, pathetically and very tragically, come from Black Americans. Indeed, some of us have internalized racism so much that we do not even realize how much we ape what the mainstream media tells us to think and say. So we hate LeBron, too. Think he is arrogant and Hollywood, too. Want him to fail, miserably, to lose to Kevin Durant and the Thunder, too. So that LeBron can be taught a lesson, taught some humility, so that he can be the boy he once was, the boy who we gloated over in what seemed like an eternity.

But LeBron James is not a boy, his name is not Toby as in the epic mini-series “Roots,” and neither you nor I nor them nor they own him. He owns himself. It is that freedom that allows LeBron to play any position on the court at any time. It is that freedom that gave him permission to go work where he pleased, whether you liked it or not. And it is that kind of freedom that Jack Johnson, Muhammad Ali, Curt Flood, and countless others fought for all of us to have, in their own way, in the field of sport and play. Because they understood, as I believe LeBron is coming to understand, that there is a thin line between sport and play and real life.

And an even thinner line between love and hate—

Kevin Powell is an activist, public speaker, and author or editor of 11 books, including his newest title “Barack Obama, Ronald Reagan, and The Ghost of Dr. King: Blogs and Essays.” You can order the book at www.lulu.com, or on iTunes and Amazon/Amazon Kindle. Email him at kevin@kevinpowell.net or follow him on Twitter @kevin_powell

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21 Responses to “The Hate That LeBron James Haters Produced”

  1. devon says:

    This is a beautifully written piece. It’s so spot on. There is something profoundly wrong with a society that finds every reason to tear down great talent. He had the same talent in Cleveland, where he was the darling of the NBA, but the second he made his OWN decision, to take his career into his OWN hands, everyone turned on him, including the league. It’s deplorable. I’m a huge Heat fan (I live in Brooklyn) and applauded his decision to take his talent where it would best serve him.

  2. LBJ, is one of the most hated players in the league, i’m not sure why we are surprised. You article challenges us to think about the person, the game and the culture. Thank you for sharing your thoughts

  3. Victor Floyd says:

    Great post. Most people hate Labron because media outlets ( mostly ESPN ) told them they should. And this is disgusting to see people of hue take part in this. On the other hand, for whites it’s another day hating a black guy. When in the long history of basketball or any other sport have you seen this type of unprecedented hate? It’s disturbing that people don’t have enough sence to see through this bull. The owners want control, and if you dont do as your told you get burned in the media as a message to others to fall in line. There is NO Excuse for this level of hate. The man made boat loads of money for the boys and girls club, but oh no forget that he’s an attention whore. What about ESPN running specials on where he may go a good TWO YEARS before the decision?? That wasn’t Labrons doing. If Clevland is hurting like many other cities take it to city hall, not a man who plays ball. You have the right to be devilish and hate, just know you are just doing what your told by the media. There is NO LOGICAL REASON for this amount of hate. A lot of y’all sound a stupid as white supremist trying to justify your hate, but it never makes since! As a black man, and a sports fan I called the media for this Bull$&:- two years ago, cause I could see the hands of manipulation. ESPN ran segment after segment of BS. Meanwhile just this year they told Thier commentators not to mention Trayvon. I know this type of talk ain’t what you used to, I’m not one the blind wielding hate at another on behest of media outlets, I think for myself. But gone and hate like you ain’t got nothing better to do. Cause you know, there ain’t enough hate against black men as it is.

  4. Phalluster says:

    I like how you reminded us that LeBron is not a slave! That little pièce de résistance really tied this post together for me.

  5. anthony b says:

    Comparing Ali, Flood, and Johnson to LeBron is an insult to them. Those three did things that went way beyond the boundaries of sports and hit at the heart of what was right and wrong in the country at the time. They were putting themselves and their careers in jeopardy to stand up for things that they believed were wrong. LeBron was simply deciding which team name would be showing up on his checks for $100 million. I also feel the race angle is a cop out on why there is so much anger towards LeBron. It’s the manner in which he left, with that narcissistic “Selection Show”, that made everyone so angry. Cleveland was a city that was hurting in so many ways, economically, socially, etc, and hadn’t done anything in sports for many years. Here they have the best player in the game, and arguably one of the best athletes in the world, who is from their neighborhood and he bolts for Miami. Not only did he leave, but he rubs it in their face with the ‘Selection Show”. I don’t care if you’re black, white, asian, hispanic, or a martian. If you leave and do it in that manner, you better expect there to be a ton of hatred coming your way.

  6. When you try to stack the deck by teaming up with your rivals, say before the season starts “it’s going to be easy”, then get outscored by Jason Terry in the NBA Finals, you deserve all the criticism you get.

    Some people might be looking for reasons to hate on LeBron, but at the same time he’s offering up a lot of material on his own.

  7. dee says:

    The man tattooed “chosen one” on his back. We like or heroes to back up their ish. We like the guy who rains threes on you and then shrugs as if even he can’t believe they are dropping like that, like MJ against Portland. One can appreciate a hero like Ali, who not only said “I am the greatest” but backed it up by being a champion. Kobe paid a price for his crap, but the rings can’t be retracted. People dislike LBJ because he doesn’t deliver when it counts, yet embraces being the chosen one.

  8. Christine says:

    This article is extremely true and accurate. Don’t hate the player hate the game! Hatred will never die and that’s a Shame! Lebron has every right to choose his own path. His only owner besides him is his Mom! Lebron I have plenty of love for him & always will be on his side to protect his innocents. Let the greatest be. Since his record is so clean they (people/haters) have to hold something against him. The trade was it! Win heat! Bring home the championship trophy and rings 4 the players! God bless everyone! Including the haters! Peace

  9. Dwayne says:

    My mother taught me a saying that has always illuminated my life “Humble thyself and you will be exalted” Lebron is no where as humble as KD. that’s the whole arguement. It has nothing to do with stats, but more so the character of the heroes we wish to exalt.

  10. Chris Barnes says:

    Allow me to start by saying, “Excellent article”. LeBron is easily the most talented basketball player in the world, hands down. In my opinion Lebron has have everything handed to him, he has to go through some sort of adversity and prevail to really be adored. Before he was Magic Johnson was he was “Tragic Johnson”, couldn’t hit a jumper to save his life, before MJ was MJ, he was a ball hog with no jumper. Larry Bird “The hick from Frenchlick”, nowhere near athletically talented as most in the NBA, but the heart of a champion; however all those athletes overcame obstacles. Magic had to get past Rudy T. as coach Norm Nixon, and then Bird, Bird had to get past Magic, and MJ had to get past the Pistons. Ali had to get past Frazier and so many other things. In the Championship game against the Spurs Lebron, pretty much quit on his team for whatever reason and then bounced. Shades of Neil O’Donnell of the Steelers throwing two horrible interceptions in the Superbowl against the Cowboys (I’m still not over that) and then bouncing, no explanation, no nothing. Not accepatable. The least he could have done is clear the air. In my opinion you can’t have the “swagger” of a Champion until you are a Champion. If he wins a Championship, most of his antics will be forgotten, the ring is the thing. As Malcolm said, ‘By Any Means Necessary”, as Al Davis said “Just Win Baby”, as DJ Khaled said, ‘All I do is win, no matter what”. Finally, when you walk around with all that “swagger and bravado” you have to show up when the chips are on the line (i.e. 4th Quarter) Magic, Bird, MJ, Ali, all those individuals thrived in those positions, so far ‘King James” has wilted in those games.

  11. Jimmy says:

    It’s funny that after all these years people still hate and when I say hate I don’t mean the street slang of disliking someone because they are better than you but hate as in white people who hate all blacks simply because they are black. The level of wasted energy is amazing when it comes to LeBron, I will be the first to admit I am not a Kobe fan but dislike for Kobe comes from his actions during the rape charges he was facing. First he was Italy but after it happen now he rep’n Philly? First he put on this clean cut boy next door image now he tatted up with the Tupac bald head. It just seemed to me that he was trying to follow in the MJ footsteps of “republicans buy shoes” rather then be who he was but much like most black athletes when that side turn on them then they want to “come on home”. Yet none of the dislike for Kobe has reached the levels of the pure hatred of LBJ. I guess John Madden was right “winning is the best deodorant”, and speaking of winning while people like to call LBJ a loser I challenge the vast majority of those people to look down at their hands and tell me if they’re roc’n any NBA championship rings? No? Didn’t think so! So I guess that makes you a loser too then right? The facts are LeBron is leading his team in every category except steals which I believe he is number 2 behind Wade. So he said they were going to win 7 championships, hell who didn’t think they were? Let’s be real when you get the top 3 players in any sport the championship talks start to talk, ask the Eagles! So he broadcasted his “decision”, which looking back may not have been the best one he made but how many tuned in to watch it? People that weren’t even basketball fans watched it. Look far be it for me to say you should or shouldn’t cheer for someone but maybe you should just check the reason why your doing it…

  12. Meccatron says:

    While I loved this article I am on the opposite end of this argument. As a former pro basketballer and personal friend of the author of this piece, I must disagree somewhat…People have become Haters of Lebron olle tivelg for three separate reasons.One being the Ohioans/Cleveland Cav fans, because he left his home state of Ohio in a fashion that was cold partially due to his dislike of the owner, he created a statewide hate…Secondly he has caused no less than 7 teams a chance at a championship (Philly, Boston, Chicago, Indiana, Atlanta, Orlando & NY) and this is the typical type of hate all superstar players endure…but the third and undoubtedly worst level of hate is one he brought on himself…There is a level of self confidence that we all should have yet many suffer from a deficiency.
    Arrogance is not frown upon lightly and the once beloved man-child from Akron took arrogance to a whole new level…from the “Check My Stats” tee shirt, to the “Decision”, to the 3 person “Only” pep rally, and finally the statement after the loss that haters gonna wake up tomorrow still broke or with the same boring lives (in essence he was belittling all less fortunate than he, even if they were down with Team Lebron or not) and to me he created this marketing fiasco…this Hate.
    he doesn’t get a pass from me on any of this even though I can honestly say that I am not one of the “Haters”, he has lost some of his appeal to me. There are no excuses because he is in his 9th season and he is no longer a naive teenage prodigy, and as for the “decision” people use the charity as reason…NOPE…He could have made a tax deductible gift to that same boys and girls club because after all, he’s a millionaire. He definitely didn’t need to hold a press conference in New York in the Knicks back yard to tell folks he was going to Miami and frankly this type of press conferences are for high schoolers going to college and he gave up that option when he bypasses college to go straight to the pros…NOPE…and the press conference of three, when you have 9 other teammates that are gonna be going to war with you every nite and you are proclaiming not 5, not 6, …well you get the drift…
    He should be thankful of his god giving abilities as we all have before him…learn a little humility along the way (which I think he is in the process of learning) and maybe he will get his ring and probably some of his fan base back…And just remember, we are a forgiving people too…

  13. Baker says:

    First off, Lebron plays in a much weaker league than when Bird or Magic or even Jordan played in. If Jordan played in the current era, he’d average 40 ppg. Also, Jordan didn’t play for his full career. Taking two retirement breaks and then having dismal numbers added to his stats when he wasted time with the Wizards. That being said, all that stats in the world don’t cover up the black hole of Lebron’s Finals appearances. When it MATTERS, Lebron James is a nobody. He is virtually rendered talentless when the trophy is on the line. He does not have the heart of a champion. Sure, if the measure of an NBA superstar is beating the Celtics in 7 games to clench the Eastern Conference Finals, then Lebron is phenomenal. But don’t sit here feeding us the line of Lebron being the greatest player on Earth or the greatest of all time. That is such an exaggerated claim. Lebron as a highlight reel and box stat filler is tremendous. He has talent, no denying that. But he’s gutless and heartless. At the end of his career if he doesn’t have at LEAST two rings, it was all for nothing. I will concede the label of Greatest of All Time to Never Win A Title. That is well deserved. But what has he really accomplished? Oh he has pretty stats. That’s nice. Where’s his multiple trophies? You know, the ones he said he’d win when he came to Miami. (Not one, not two, not three, not four……) The difference between Lebron James and the other, justified, top superstars (Jordan, Magic, Bird) is that the intensity that LBJ showed in Game 6 against the Celtics was how the other greats played every second of every game. Lebron can pour it on when he needs to, but he doesn’t leave it on. And that is why he’ll never win a title. He is missing the essential eye of the tiger; the heart of a champion. There is absolutely no way to deny how extremely gifted and talented Lebron James is. He is certainly the most prolific basketball player of the 2000’s. But if given choice to create the ultimate Dream Team, I wouldn’t include James on my lineup. Not even to warm the bench. All that talent is squandered on hype and illegitimate claims to being royalty. Lebron James is no king. He’s not even a court jester. He’s just a really good basketball player who counted his eggs before they hatched. Overrated of all time? Most certainly. Greatest to ever play? Not even close. Please stop the hype.

  14. Jovan Hackley says:

    Incredible article. The Lebron Hate is another example of how massive conversations don’t reflect the majority. I’d put money on there being as many Lebron lovers as haters and even more that don’t care. Alas, the joy of mass media is that something’s gotta be magnified. Unfortunately, in many cases it is hate.

  15. @Robotec says:

    This is a great eye opener, its like they build you up to take you down we see this all the time in sports & entertainment. Mike Tyson was a perfect example but at least Mike got caught up with thsi monster we call fame. Lebron is a clean cut dude, but he’s his own man & not influenced by society. The system always try to take down these individuals b/c he’s not negociating his morals & ethic’s for greed. I wish Lebron more success & keep smiling focus on your family & baseketball, tell these confused ppl it just a game, get a life!! Thanks Mr. Kevin Powell it great that you can express they way many of us feel with this Blog!!! Stay Focused & Driven!

  16. This was truly an encouraging Blog, I to was raised by a single parent. My grandmother took the liberty to rear me and my sister’s while my mother moved to Brooklyn N.Y. back in the early 70’s to create a better life for her and her children. My mother did not have an high school diploma, however, was blessed to land a job on Wall St despite the fact. She always wanted all her children to receive a college education, she said it would take us further in life. With less then a year left pursuing a Double Major Criminal Justice/Religion I attend Saint Leo University. My mother question to me is “are you going to be an educated fool, or a fool with an education” my response I not going to be no ones fool. I am thankful for brothers like you whom allows me to Strive hard to Succeed in obtaining my degree’s. Your words of Inspiration is truly appreciated and I just wanted to say thank you Kevin. After, receiving my education, I wish to help those whom are labeled a cancer to society in hopes of being a positive role model to them to help with many of their dysfunctions that has cursed their families for generations. Helping them to build a solid foundation to become productive men, and women in society; and to teach them that they can serve a positive purpose in life. I wish you much continued success and please remember we are never to Equal, but to Excel in this journey call life.

  17. Markeith Reed says:

    While the crux of you editorial is just, the practical application has one huge flaw. That is the free will argument you advance for Mr. James. While i readily support his right to work anywhere…the notion that i as a fan “HAVE” to cheer for anyone is wrong. VERY WRONG. I’m a Cavs fan. I live in Ohio. I’ve seen the support for James from a high-school’er on. Then i saw him leave and “take his talents to South Beach.” When he left, he left his largest, most vocal supporters. (for a reference: see his High School Years and the battles against the Ohio High School Athletic Association). Little did he or anyone at LRMR know, Clevelanders were keeping the “hate” out. His fan base here were helping him become the “global icon” he wanted to become. They were fighting the hate in every conceivable media outlet: Online, TV, Radio, Newspaper, etc… Once Mr. James left, the hate began to flow unencumbered. So while it looks to be a new “hate”, it is actually “hate” that has been flowing for years. (mostly since the “Chosen One” SI cover, the “hate” online was really bad after that)
    On a side note: the Heat will never be the Bulls of the 90’s or the Celtics or Lakers of the 80’s. We live in a different time. Those who would cast the same “hate” on those players didn’t have an outlet. Now they do. We don’t know our athletes really. We know what’s on the field, court, track, etc…. So i could have been cheering for a bad person and booing a good person. But if the bad person is wearing the colors of the team i support, how does that make me a bad person?
    To end: I would have the Heat fans to take up the cause of stemming the tide of “hate”. Cleveland did it for years with love and support. Now that Mr. James has left, it’s up to Heat fans to take up the cause. Given you editorial, they are doing a horrible job.

  18. Carla says:

    As I sit here and read the comments I realize that some folks will NEVER hear you. If you can read this article and still judge this man so harshly then you really need to mute the TV.He is one of the greatest to ever play the game and “Decision” or not he will go down in history as such. I don’t particularly care for Kobe but he’s still one of the greats and I can acknowledge that fact. LBJ has been demonized in the media and if you ‘hate’ him based on the way he’s been portrayed in the past 2 years you watch Channel Zero! Nobody look like that-nobody even look like that! That man is a FREE man…respect his decision and move on. I’m soooo sick of hearing folks who CAN’T ball judge him and his choices. Get over it!!!!!!! GO HEAT!!! GO LBJ!!!

  19. Troy (Roybus) says:

    Brother Kevin,

    You are my generations Amira Baraka, Manning Marable, etc. I’ve been a fan of your work since you appeared on the original and best “Real World.” But my brother, you are wrong on this one. LBJ is reviled not only by “The Decision” or the “not 1 not 2 not 3….” but also by his lack huxtpa when it’s called for. He quit on Cleveland in that last playoff series and decided to take off his “big boy” pants and go team with “help.”

    “I left my wallet in El Segundo, left my wallet in El Segundo….”. LBJ left his heart in Detroit after that epic 28 point fourth quarter years ago. He’s not had the same hunger, tenacity, and drive since. I for one thought it was coming back after the last two games against Boston but tonight, he folded again on the biggest stage he’s ever been on. Him and Wade both. Going mano-a-mano with KDTrey5 and RussWest44 and coming up short once again.

    See Kevin, with his out of this world talent, people are expecting him to not heat up in the first three quarters but be that “guy” in the fourth. Jordan, Bird and Magic lived for it. The “Miami Thrice” broke the “Legends Code of Competition” by creating this so-called “supersquad” that, together, have the basketball I.Q. of a gnat.

    They are getting ready to show the anniversary of the Dream Team on NBA-TV tomorrow. Maybe LBJ can watch it and see that “game recognizes game.” And because of that, they blew away the competition like they have played 10 years together. Everybody on that team, sans Lattener, had a basketball IQ that went with their greatness, that allowed them to mess seamlessly and play lights out. There is no reason why the Heat should not be back in the Finals defending their title instead of winning one. Now combine the lack of basketball IQ with lack of heart from LBJ and Bosh (at times) and you get what you got.

    LBJ is hated because he made a “decision” and even two years removed, he can’t get beyond it because he folds in the fourth quarters of games and shows no signs of having any heart. Had he made the “decision” and lit it up like MJ when it mattered most, then all of this talk would be just white noise…

  20. Joffrey says:

    Not 1 not 2 not 3……is why people don’t want to see Prince James succeed.

  21. Boogi3e says:

    I couldn’t even finish reading after “There is something profoundly wrong with any people, any society, where someone can possess the attributes of success, achievement, bottomless talent, and a squeaky clean personal life, yet be so routinely hated by so many. That is the dilemma of one LeBron Raymone James, the greatest basketball player on the planet Earth.” As a former LBJ fan I recognize that he is an amazing player, one of the best. But he made himself a villian not by making his infomous “decision” but his attItude during the entire process…. There is so much I want to say but since I didn’t finish the article I don’t want to put my foot in my mouth too much. But I had to say something.

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