Love Him One Day, Hate Him the Next: The Media-Driven LeBron James Dilemma

Peter EmerickSenior Writer IIJune 12, 2013

MIAMI, FL - JUNE 09:  LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat reacts in the third quarter while taking on the San Antonio Spurs during Game Two of the 2013 NBA Finals at AmericanAirlines Arena on June 9, 2013 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The sports media world has the consistency of an ice cream cone on a 100-degree day on the beaches of South Beach.

The ice cream cone starts off with promise, presenting itself for what it is: a refreshing treat on a miserably hot day.

But before you know it, it starts changing form, becoming something you didn't want it to become and soon enough it falls flat on its face in the sand, leaving you frustrated, upset and bewildered.

It's an amazing phenomenon how the media supports LeBron once he's "earned" their support like he did in the Eastern Conference Finals, averaging 29 points, 7.3 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 1.4 blocks and 1.4 steals throughout the series, 

But then they are quick to pull the rug of support out from under his feet when he struggles in the slightest, like after his underwhelming 15-point, 11-rebound, five-assist and two-steal performance in Game 3 of the NBA Finals.

Actually, it's not like the media just pull their support from underneath him. They pull the rug from underneath him, then beat him over the head with criticism.

One day LeBron is on the trajectory to finally prove to the sports world that he's the greatest of all time (for the millionth time), and then the very next day he is headed towards his own demise because he had a rough shooting night and skipped out on a press conference.

It really shouldn't be all that shocking though, because it simply reflects the critical, unforgiving and whimsical society that we live in.

Everyone is an expert on what everyone should or shouldn't do, and we all know better than everyone else what is right for the world and the billions who live in it.

We live in a very egocentric society in which the individual person and his/her opinion reigns supreme, especially in media-driven fields like entertainment and sports.

Once a person makes a few million dollars to play a game for a living, the media and fans alike think it's okay to unleash their negative opinions on them with the overarching phrase "but they get paid so much to play a sport."

While we are all victims of warranted and unwarranted criticism, either to our face or behind our backs, it's not as blatant because there aren't many mediums where people can voice their opinions.

For guys like LeBron James, that couldn't be further from the truth.

With talk radio, ESPN, CBS Sports, NBC Sports, Sports Illustrated, Twitter and the list goes on, there are so many places to validate your own opinion of a man you don't know.

No wonder LeBron James shuts down his cell phone and stops using social media during the playoffs.

I'm not arguing whether people's opinions of LeBron are valid or not.

Instead, I'm merely pointing out the fact that we—those who have never played a minute of professional basketball—love to act as though we know what is right and wrong in terms of how an individual approaches his profession.

We even go as far as questioning mental characteristics like confidence, character and passion, which can only truly be measured on an internal level.

Opinions and observations are fine when they are maintained as such. But when we believe that our opinions are instead fact, we make the grandiose error of believing that we have the final word on LeBron's legacy.

Need I remind us all that even the man we call the greatest of all time, Michael Jordan, had rough games in the NBA Finals?

Take for example Game 4 of the 1997 NBA Finals when Jordan scored just 22 points on 11-of-27 shooting from the field en route to the back end of back-to-back losses to the Utah Jazz.

Oh, and there was that time in Game 4 of the 1996 NBA Finals when Jordan had 23 points on 6-of-19 shooting with four turnovers.

Do those two performances define Jordan's existence in the NBA? No, because he went on to win the NBA Finals in both of those seasons.

Before you say or think, "Exactly! LeBron hasn't done that," at least give the man the chance to accomplish that before deciding that his rough night in Game 3 of the 2013 NBA Finals should define his entire career and legacy.

There comes a time when we need to let bad just be bad.

We don't need to over-hype a bad game or stretch of games to the point where we forget the greatness that exists in LeBron's four MVPs in five years, or his ability to power the Miami Heat past the Indiana Pacers and Boston Celtics in the 2012 NBA Playoffs or his ability to crush the Pacers' chances in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals this season.

I'm sure you get my point.

The media has created a world in which LeBron has to accomplish 10 great things to undo one negative thing, like a poor performance in an important game or an ill-timed television special revealing where his talents would be going.

Opportunities for redemption are few and far between when you are at the heights of greatness like LeBron is, and that's a shame because it's a product of the frenzied world the media has created.

We should all have to live one day where people we don't know and have never met weigh in on how we live our lives and do our jobs.

If we did that, we'd all probably understand a bit more why LeBron decided to pass on a press conference one time.