With Miami Heat training camp opening this week, it should have been about basketball, but yet again, LeBron James has made the story about himself.
Both James and his business partner Maverick Carter appeared on CNN Wednesday night for a piece that was mostly about Carter, the mastermind behind the “Summer of LeBron.” During that segment, James was asked if race had anything to do with the backlash directed at James after he signed with the Miami Heat.
"I think so at times. It's always a race factor," James said in the interview. Carter later reaffirmed that statement.
Give me a break.
Ever since “The Decision,” LeBron and his camp, including his newfound media assistant Dwyane Wade, have tried to defend James’ actions this summer and pin it on something else. However, not once, has James just owned up to the fact that the negative press is his own doing.
Carter and LeBron are so in denial with that fact they’d only admit that the self-aggrandizing television special, in which James broke the hearts of every Clevelander, might have had something to do with the backlash.
It started when LeBron was an utter no-show for the final two games of the Boston Celtics series. James shot 11-for-35 from the field and committed 12 turnovers, seemingly giving up on the series as he milked a phantom elbow injury that not one medical test could detect.
LeBron follows that up by becoming a free agent, and instead of visiting interested teams, he had them come to his offices in Cleveland to plead for his services, something that each team should have seen as a slap in the face.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, James then calls up ESPN and schedules this ludicrous television special that was an hour-long ode to all things LeBron, something no player in the history of sports has ever done. In that special, James looked aloof to what was going on around him as he said he was “taking his talents to South Beach,” which might have been the worst part of it all.
It was done in poor taste and was even more poorly executed. It was disrespectful to the game, to the league, and to every single NBA fan. It was one big ego stroke and James and his associates hid it behind the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, thinking a charitable donation would make it better.
The backlash to the entire circus was immediate, fierce and justified. LeBron’s move to Miami was blatantly full of inconsistency. Take this quote from a 2006 interview with ESPN.com:
"It’s all about competing, about trying to be the best,” James said. “It’s also important to me to make the team I’m on now the best. I don’t want to go ring-chasing, as I call it; you know, going to a team that’s already pretty established and trying to win a ring with them. I want to stay with the Cavs and build a champion. And I feel like we’re on our way.”
So let’s see. You joined Dwyane Wade in Miami, who has already won a title, along with Chris Bosh, who’s been an All-Star himself. That sounds pretty established to me.
If you’re all about being the best, you wouldn’t have teamed up with Wade in Miami, you’d have gone somewhere and beaten him on the court like all of the other greats before you. You didn’t want to go ring-chasing, but here you are, looking like a fraud and a liar.
The defenses have been the same and they’ve been furious from the Miami camp. Wade has tried to defend LeBron to anyone who will listen as he and James spit out the same tired lines that Jordan, Magic, and Larry didn’t do it alone.
That’s true and that’s wonderful but they didn’t conspire together to try and form some super team. Magic, Larry, and Jordan all wanted to beat the crap out of each other and prove they were the best. Magic Johnson never recruited Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to the Lakers; he happened to be there when Johnson was drafted.
The same goes for Jordan and the Bulls. Scottie Pippen was drafted to Chicago in 1987, three years later. The fact that you have the nerve to compare your situation to theirs shows no grasp of history whatsoever.
Now he has the gall to blame race for this level of hatred he’s seeing? It just makes him look bad and in a country that’s been so divided by race in its history, it’s just irresponsible and foolish to bring it into the equation.
People hate LeBron James not because he’s an African-American, but because he’s an egomaniacal diva who showed that he thought he was bigger than the game of basketball this summer. It shouldn’t have been a shock, seeing as he was signing autographs as “King James” since he was in high school, but it was.
James stabbed his hometown team in the heart on national television, and after the fact, he said he hated the city growing up. It was classless and uncalled for. When you act like that, it doesn’t matter what color your skin is. People hate classless behavior and that’s why he’s despised at this moment
The irony of it all is that LeBron caused this latest stir not doing an interview about himself, but his longtime friend and business partner Maverick Carter. Even then, while supporting his friend, he made it about LeBron James.
He could have avoided the question, or changed the subject, but he didn’t. He made it all about LeBron.
Years from now, James will look at his actions and his legacy and wonder why it isn’t what he thought it would be when his career is over.
And I’m sure it will be someone else’s fault.