LeBron James Becoming Likable? Looking Back at the King's Most Hated Moments

Jess Lander@@jesslanderContributor IIIFebruary 9, 2013

LeBron James Becoming Likable? Looking Back at the King's Most Hated Moments

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    It's not like anyone denies his talent. Nobody, especially now that he finally has a ring, says, "LeBron James is overrated."

    It's just that he's a jerk. And that his ego is bigger than Texas.

    He turned on a city that worshiped him in the worst possible way. Announcing his decision to leave the Cavaliers to sign with the Miami Heat during a one-hour, prime time spectacle on national television. As far as Cleveland was concerned, South Beach was actually hell.

    And that's just the worst thing he's done.

    James, or "the King," has a lot of haters.

    But lately, it seems that James, who actually sports a back tattoo that reads "Chosen 1," is on a campaign to improve his image. In recent weeks he's had two endearing interactions with fans.

    First, he tackled a fan and gave him a massive, teddy bear hug when the fan made a half-court shot to win $75,000. James' giddy celebration showed a fun and charming side to him that has rarely shined through.

    Then at last night's Heat game against the Clippers, LeBron played an impromptu game of catch with a fan wearing his jersey in the stands.

    Could LeBron be turning over a new leaf? Is it just a PR move in the race for MVP? We don't know what it is yet, but it's definitely making one of sport's most-hated personalities more likable.

    Is the world convinced yet? Probably not. The King has more ground to cover before he evens the score. Before you decide, let's take a look back at six of James' worst moments.

1. The Decision

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    The worst part about this is that nobody was that surprised that James chose South Beach. Like many athletes before him, he chose the road to victory.

    A lot of people, including the entire city of Cleveland, blamed him for it, harping on the time he said he "wouldn't stop" until he brought home a championship. But anyone who understands the business of sports doesn't blame him and knows that James gave Cleveland a good, hard try. 

    The issue is in the way he did it.

    He couldn't just hold a press conference like everyone else. James had to stab his hometown in the back via a narcissistic, drawn-out special on national TV titled "The Decision."

    Apparently, he needed 60 minutes to say the words, "I'm going to take my talents to South Beach."

2. Eight Championships

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    During the party welcoming James to the Miami Heat, which obnoxiously celebrated the creation of the three-headed monster consisting of Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade and LeBron, the King uttered his famous last words.

    "Not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, not seven," he said, boldly predicting that the Heat would win eight championships with him.

    It's a tall order.

    James has only seven to go, but if he doesn't come through on his promise, that statement will forever live on as one of the most arrogant sentences ever uttered in the world of sports.

3. "That's Retarded"

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    James has a reputation for putting his foot in his mouth. 

    During a postgame press conference in 2011, after the Heat had fallen to the Celtics in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals, Dwyane Wade was asked by a reporter about the "dirty play" that injured Rajon Rondo during the game.

    James, sitting next to Wade, muttered into his mic a muffled, barely audible, "That's retarded."

    Of course, LeBron's biggest critics had a heyday with this one. He obviously didn't mean the controversial term to suggest in a politically incorrect way that the reporter was mentally disabled.

    But when you're James, you can't afford such slips. What he can afford—with all that money he's sitting on—is a thesaurus.

4. The Yankees Cap

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    In 2007, James was still the face of Cleveland sports and nobody could even dream that his time there was to be short-lived.

    But it sure didn't look like it in Game 1 of the ALDS when the Yankees were facing Cleveland at Jacobs Field. James sat behind home plate wearing a Yankees cap.

    The hometown hero wasn't just wearing the cap either. He flaunted it, at one time even holding it up over his head.  As you can imagine, this didn't make his fans in Cleveland too happy. 

    At least the Indians went on to win that series, before falling in the ALCS to Boston, the eventual World Series winner. 

5. LeBronterage

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    James made a very public statement to his haters at the 2007 ESPYS when he performed his own Lebronified rendition of Bobby Brown's "My Perogative."

    The King came out on stage in a pair of MC Hammer pants and showed that he probably shouldn't quit his day job for a music career.

    The lyrics did bring up some good points like, "Why can't he bite his nails?"

    The average sports fan found this hilarious, but it only provided more ammo for James' biggest doubters. 

6. Getting Dunked on by a College Kid

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    The King was momentarily dethroned when college star Jordan Crawford dunked on James at his own camp in 2009.

    A little embarrassing for him, maybe. But the elaborate scheme to cover it up was way worse for his already tarnished reputation. 

    James and Nike tried to keep the video from going viral, which obviously didn't work.