Embattled LeBron James Won't Elude Stigma Paranoid of Race

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Embattled LeBron James Won't Elude Stigma Paranoid of Race
Marc Serota/Getty Images

One day, he was described as the biggest global icon in basketball, braced by the world and vastly became a consumer’s best friend for selling his valuable products. The next day, he was being lambasted and characterized as the world’s most hated athlete, except in South Beach where he opted to expose his talent this upcoming season.

It was almost a travesty in sports, when LeBron James hijacked television in a one-hour extravaganza and publicly made his decision during free agency in a narcissistic infomercial that stained his unblemished image.

It is difficult, if not impossible, to escape the infamy of being labeled as a villain shortly after leaving Cleveland for Miami, a controversy that ravaged the idolatry of a world-class superstar before callously bailing out on his native town.

But, in the meantime, the backlash is ruthless and horrendous when he entered the NBA as a high-school star and lifted a hopeless franchise into prime contention. As part of a rebuilding mode in Cleveland, he essentially developed as the iconic superstar in a depressing sports town. The past summer, he left a community in despair and angered the people in Cleveland by unwisely announcing his decision on television.

Beyond all the resentment and emotion, a ruckus wasn’t provoked from the melodrama or his egotistical announcement publicly, but instead it was beget by his uncivil departure and escalated into a lingering dilemma that existed all summer.

But all in all, James virtually had every right to leave and play elsewhere for a shot at securing a championship. And so here we are, just as the continuous drama begun dying down, dismissing his theory and premeditated notion that racism played a role in his disastrous broadcast.

The paranoia is discovered in a prejudice period, of course, and has affected the imagery of sports in recent memory with the exception of sinful stereotypes and the perception regarding athletes. The truth is, often times, men of color have a penchant for blaming complications on inequality or elitism. Of all things, once news circles LeBron or involves racism, it creates madness.

Earlier this week, James was on CNN discussing his outrageous decision to leave Cleveland for Miami and admitted it was because of racism, not anger or betrayal on his egregious choice to emotionally depart from the team that elevated an ethical legacy.

Asked by journalist Soledad O’Brien, “Do you think there’s a role that race plays in this?” James wasn’t hesitant in his impromptu interview and dreadfully enacted the race card.

“I think so at times,” James said. “It’s always a race factor.”

Race, if nothing else is his defense. I am not too sure race had a role. As the masses clearly loathe James, it’s not because of his skin color or even his arrogance, but maybe it’s because he’s no longer a man of loyalty, a commitment he pledged when he established a pro career in Cleveland.

As it happened, he was the portrait of a hero in a town that badly needed spirit, but nowadays he’s the symbol of a villain for his disloyalty and betrayal.

Now more than ever, he left a town furious, saddened and disgusted. Still, to this day, the people refuse to realize he subjugated his ego and sacrificed his ruptured legacy and joined forces with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami.

Besides it being one of the most unprecedented trios in basketball all time, the Superteam alone created a circus and tension at Heat’s training camp, where a swarm of reporters has heckled James since making his race comments. Blaming this on race, nonetheless, is definitely the lamest conception.

“It definitely played a role in some of the stuff coming out of the media, things that were written for sure,” said Maverick Carter, the longtime business manager who advocated “The Decision.”

In addition to all the dramatic publicity regarding the remarks, James doesn’t regret announcing his comments on race during an interview conducted Monday on the Heat’s media day at the University of Miami but aired Wednesday night.

Considering that the theme of this story is a pointless one, we are obligated to know whether or not the Heat is championship-caliber. It was Pat Riley, the masterminded genius who assembled a forceful trio, and as we already know, LeBron is a gifted star, an unparalleled star like no other in the NBA.

And so it happens as James has the spotlight with the NBA season returning in a month, but voted as one of the world’s most disliked athletes. Nearly as stunning as it is that James is the most polarizing player in the game from all walks of live, he’s ridiculed and hated since breaking a bond in Cleveland.

From there, fans burned his expensive No. 23 jerseys, and tossed rocks at his mural on a building in downtown Cleveland on the night he made the announcement. By the end of the summer, James’ respectability had drastically fallen from grace among white fans but only slightly plunged among black supporters.  

However, it still doesn’t validate that race had a role.  

James is the one ballplayer sold as more than a basketball icon. The fitting likelihood of James marketing products in advertisements such as State Farm, Nike, and McDonald's signify that he’s globally the magnet in sports. Now how is that being racist?

Well, at least, he was until he mishandled his free agency stunt and ego, sending a bad message to misguided fans. The dubious idea is that he won’t ever repossess hype or appreciation as the symbolic ballplayer, grandiosity that was significantly lost amid the transition and ever since he has been perceived as a self-centered, arrogant traitor.

But he’s not necessarily. As advertised, LeBron is a puppet, just as much as he’s a competitor. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have sacrificed his legacy and ego or joined forces with a pair of sumptuous superstars.

The Heat are arguably one of the most polarizing teams in NBA history, and anything less than a championship will be a huge letdown, given that Riley pulled off one of the most remarkable steals ever. Entering training camp, everyone is curious to know if the chemistry is intact or whether The Three Amigos can coexist together.

But even if he doesn’t have the audacity to regret ever blaming it on race, James tries to classify the troubles as if racism caters to the greatest backlash in sports. So now, it’s clear that he won’t take back his words and strongly meant everything he said.

“I’m not going to go back on my words,” James said Thursday. “Sometimes [race] does play a part. People are looking too far into it. I said what I had to say [Monday], and I’ll continue to move on.”

This is a reaction of denial and embarrassment, more than racism or bias. He certainly was a hometown hero and the symbol of Ohio, but as soon as he left, the people stopped applauding and worshipping James.

In all honesty, he’s bullied by animosity because of his arrogance, riches and fame, not because he’s black. In short, he was criticized by black sports icons, including Charles Barkley, Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan. The facts are telling that this isn’t a racial issue. Fans burned replicas of No. 23 jerseys, not because he’s black, but because he left home.

“I really don’t get into it,” Wade said. “It’s really unfortunate, some of the backlash that came from his decision. But as LeBron said, he’s happy with his decision. And at the end of the day, that’s all that matters. You see the smile on his face, the laugher. It makes you feel good.”

Where is Rev. Jesse Jackson?

Maybe he believes LeBron is paranoid.

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