LeBron James is a YouTube sensation. But not for his latest highlight-reel dunk or chase-down block.
This latest "incident" revolves around James and a Chicago Bulls ball boy.
Following Game Four of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals, the reigning league MVP caused an Internet stir by, of all things, failing to meticulously hand his warmup gear to a ball boy as he checked into the contest (see video below).
In the minds of many, James degraded the impressionable youth, mocked him, and treated him as serf. You know, that is what royalty do, right? He is the so-called "King."
Are we going to discredit James if it is reported he leaves the water running while brushing his teeth? Will we shake our heads in disappointment upon learning that he sometimes forgets to lower the lid on the toilet seat?
In the 22-second clip, James hops off the bench toward the scorer's table with the unidentified ball boy in tow. The Cavaliers forward strips off his warmup pants and shooting shirt before heading on the floor.
NBA players do this dozens of times a night, and nobody really pays much attention to the act, let alone write blog entries about it.
Hundreds if not thousands of holier-than-thou individuals believed James toyed with the kid almost as if it was somehow beneath him to graciously give the part-time employee his gear instead of throwing the sweats on the floor, as he appeared to purposely avoid handing them to the ball boy's outstretched arms.
"LeBron James ignores ball boy, somehow this tells us about him as a person?" one headline read.
"No One Is Too Small For LeBron James To Belittle," exclaimed another.
What followed were comments from message board patrons calling the NBA's best player everything from entitled, to a prima donna, and just another rich spoiled athlete with little regard for others.
It never ceases to amaze me how some will take a relative nothing involving a professional athlete and turn it into a referendum on how bad the modern athlete is.
I'm surprised that this saga has not landed James on MSNBC's Keith Olbermann's "The Worst Person in the World" list.
If it is not Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah calling out James for dancing during games, or his own fanbase displeased with him wearing a Yankees hat at a Cleveland Indians playoff game, it's an Orlando Magic beat writer demanding the multiple NBA All-Star relinquish a portion of his game check to fans in return for sitting out the last four meaningless games of the regular season.
The guy is a tremendous athlete.
He is the face of a league looking to remove itself from a perceived image problem that hampered its popularity a decade ago. From all accounts he is a great teammate in the locker room and has managed to abstain from criminal activity and baby momma drama through seven years in the league.
Yet some members of the press and a cluster of NBA observers jump all over James for mundane occurrences on and off the floor.
James is one of the few athletes who has lived up to the hyperbole prior to his pro debut. Nonetheless, we try to find and then exploit the flaws of James while not realizing we are uncovering our own blemishes in the process.
By no means am I saying James is Tim Tebow. How can anyone possibly live up to that standard? I was not too keen with James slighting sportsmanship by not giving props to the Magic following Cleveland's ouster in the 2009 Eastern Conference Finals.
Nor did I agree with James chastising his mother during a game as she attempted to play the role of soccer mom from the front row.
But attempting to find fault with the soul of James for the way he manages the distribution of sweaty basketball apparel only reflects how downtrodden of a society we have become.
I understand that James and other high-profile athletes are constantly under scrutiny due to their chosen careers. However, we should examine how much value we place in the actions of these men. Is it really worth getting riled up over and resorting to name-calling over this LeBron action (or lack thereof)?
Maybe those who are overreacting to Ball Boy-gate are acting entitled. In fact, I know they are.
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