LeBron James was on many people's nerves before “The Decision.”
His frequent sideline dancing when beating an opponent heavily annoyed some players, particularly Joakim Noah, but that issue was not difficult to put aside given all the fantastic comments Noah has made over time.
Walking off the court without the common and respectful handshakes after losing his playoff series to the Magic in 2008 in six games brought about some discussion of LeBron's sportsmanship.
“It’s hard for me to congratulate somebody after you just lose to them,” James said. “I’m a winner. It’s not being a poor sport or anything like that. If somebody beats you up, you’re not going to congratulate them. That doesn’t make sense to me.
"I’m a competitor. That’s what I do. It doesn’t make sense for me to go over and shake somebody’s hand.” (Game Six Post-Game Press Conference)
Multiple interview and post-game comments leading to questions speculating his actions as a role model and ambassador of the game...
“I don’t need too much. Glamour and all that stuff don’t excite me. I am just glad I have the game of basketball in my life.”(Pre-Draft Camp Media Conference)
Two years later...
“In the next 15 or 20 years, I hope I’ll be the richest man in the world. That’s one of my goals. I want to be a billionaire. I want to get to a position where generation on generation don’t have to worry about nothing.
"I don’t want family members from my kids to my son's kids to never have to worry. And I can’t do that now just playing basketball.” (Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Dec. 10, 2005)
Even with all these questions and controversies it was still difficult to dislike “The King.” He amazed us with his high-flying beastly dunks, and accelerated defensive swats.
It seemed to be easy to say the only reason for people hating was because LeBron was at the top and had it all and then some. Well, until “The Decision” anyway.
“The Decision” drew extremely sharp criticism and a wave of LeBron-haters that was in no way limited to Cleveland. New York Post columnist Mike Vaccaro called it an "awful night for Cleveland, worse night for sports, worst night for ESPN."
Eric Stangel, the head writer and executive producer for The Late Show with David Letterman, delivered an equally scathing review on Twitter: "I'm keeping my 2 yr old up to watch the LeBron James Special. I want her to see the exact moment our society hit rock bottom."
There is no further need to dwell on “The Decision,” the program was a brain-fart of LeBron's longtime friend and manager, Maverick Carter, and ESPN allowed it.
Although it was a clear ego trip on LeBron's part, the media cannot go without blame for boosting it to the greatest extent.
Then on July 10, likely the most grandiose welcome party in NBA history began at American Airlines Arena. James, Wade, and Bosh, Miami's new three-headed horse being hoisted up on a platform amidst a smoke-filled light show in front of 13,000 fans.
Soon to be touted as “The Three Kings,” the trio began parading themselves, Bosh flexing, James dancing, and Wade...well it's difficult to say something about a historically humble player that just won the lottery.
Dwyane Wade finally decided to make his contribution to the distaste on July 19. In an interview about the upcoming season, Wade issued some poor choice words comparing a couple losses to a U.S. tragedy:
"There's going to be times when we might lose one, two games in a row, maybe two games, three games in a row, you never know. It's going to seem like the world is crashed down.
"You all are going to make it seem like the World Trade has just went down again. But it's not going to be nothing but a couple basketball games lost and we'll have to get back on track."
Wade apologized for the ridiculous statement saying that there was an error in reporting and interpretation. More controversy stirred as AOL fanhouse issued an apology for a “transcription error.”
Regardless, Wade mentioning the towers in the same sentence as a basketball game is completely shocking in its incompetence.
It is unlike Wade to make such errors in judgment as he has done a good job over time of representing himself as a standup character.
On July 28, an interesting article appeared on ESPN.com, but only for the briefest of time. The article, written by ESPN's Arash Markazi, detailed the journalist's night in the company of LeBron at the Tao Nightclub in Las Vegas.
There were several pointed remarks in the article leading to the question of whether the article was removed for ESPN's self-proclaimed ethical reasons (stating that Markazi did not properly declare himself to LeBron) or because of the poor outlook it had on the star.
"James, who can hardly see the flying figure through his tinted glasses, almost gets kicked in the head on the waiter’s last trip down.
"He looks at the girls around him and says, 'I wish they’d have one of these girls with no panties do that instead of the guy.'”