There are those people in life that you either love or hate. There is no in between, no gray area.
It's one or the other. That's it.
The late George Steinbrenner, who passed away Tuesday morning, was one of those people while owning Major League Baseball’s New York Yankees.
LeBron James, with his recent move to South Beach and the fanfare he created to surround it, has recently become one of those people.
During the heyday of his career, the late Dale Earnhardt had both the loudest of cheers and the loudest of boos directed his way every time his name was announced before the start of a NASCAR race.
Current NASCAR driver Kyle Busch is one of those people.
His fans love his aggressive style and “Second place is the first loser” attitude. They also enjoy the incredible amount of talent he displays behind the wheel of a race car.
His detractors are put off by his attitude. The sarcastic bows towards the crowd after every win and the comments he makes which occasionally put off an air of arrogance turn many people off of the young driver from Las Vegas.
He’s also usually the last person he finds blame in when something goes wrong on the track.
Those aspects of Busch’s ability and personality leave racing fans with only two options: love him, or hate him.
This polarization has even spread into the media, the very people who cover him and report on him.
Rusty Wallace, former NASCAR driver and current ESPN analyst, has apparently taken a stance.
It seems he’s chosen the latter.
After winning last Friday night’s Dollar General 300 at Chicagoland Speedway in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, Kyle Busch had some relatively strong words for the fans once he arrived in victory lane.
“I gotta thank the haters, er, I mean the fans out there, you know? I don’t know if they didn’t appreciate the burnout or if they are anybody-but-Busch fans but they didn’t like it too much.”
As the interview concluded and the reporter sent it back up to the booth, a muffled comment could be heard from a voice on the air.
That voice was none other than Wallace’s, who said in response to Busch’s interview what can only be politely translated as “stupid donkey.”
Wallace has since apologized for his comment, calling it “unfortunate.” ESPN has said they won’t hand out any sort of punishment. Still, one thing is for certain: we can add another figure to the ever-growing list of Kyle Busch haters. In fact, this may be the highest profile person in the world of NASCAR to express disdain towards Busch.
Busch seems to enjoy riling up the fans, especially the ones who don’t appreciate him. It’s almost a source of pride for him when he hears boos and expletives rain down on him while he’s taking his bow.
Like the late Earnhardt used to say, it doesn’t matter if they’re cheering or booing, as long as they’re making noise.
NASCAR needs villains, for sure, and Kyle Busch fits that bill for a lot of the sport's fan base. For the rest, he’s that talented outlaw figure that they can get behind and cheer for.
Still, there comes a point when too much is too much. Busch calling out the very people who paid money to watch him drive a race car is dangerously close to that point.
If the people who make a living covering him and being objective about him are starting to turn on him, how long until his very own fans follow suit?