The Defense of LeBron James

Del ChocContributor IIJune 10, 2011

DALLAS, TX - JUNE 09:  LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat stands on the court with his head down against the Dallas Mavericks in the fourth quarter of Game Five of the 2011 NBA Finals at American Airlines Center on June 9, 2011 in Dallas, Texas.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The Defense of LeBron James

When did it become tolerable for fans of the NBA to call the league's marquee African-American basketball players out of their names?

If LeBron James doesn't take the last shot of a crucial Game 5, he's the most "undeserving" person ever to walk the four corners of the Earth; if Brandon Jennings echoes the same exact sentiments as a coach by the name of Fran Fraschilla about a over-hyped prospect, he's a "conceited" and "bitter brat." 

(I specifically say African-American players because there has been a slow but sure intervention of America's hidden pasttime—racism—trickling into the National Basketball Association by the doings of fans and owners alike.)

The euphemistically described term "name-calling" (associated with "monkey," 'LeB*tch," "coward," "douchebag," "narcissistic") has had its share of quaint affairs with some of the most influential athletes in the game today.

So much so that it wouldn't nearly be a sweat to name a few of them right off the bat: Ron Artest, Jalen Rose, Allen Iverson and J.R. Smith are a few worth naming.

But why stick to just basketball when you can crosslines into another a sport like football? Michael Vick, Plaxico Burress, Terrell Pryor and Cam Newton all have been wrongfully vilified through name-calling.

And of them, James has been the one more liken to being a victim to this selfish behavior of name-calling let off by fans than any of the other African-American athletes.

For instance, he was the precursor to the event in which parlayed one of America's most notorious symbolisms in the burning of African-American men just this past July when ESPN's cameras vividly captured a mob of Caucasian men in obvious despair setting his unlikely-to-be-retired-in-Cleveland No. 23 Cavs jersey to blazing flames.

And yet the hatred then hasn't managed to expire some months after, despite the common adage used among many seemingly logical followers of both leagues: "It's just sports."

As proof, just this past November when the Miami Heat's Big Three experienced their first adversity as a group after starting 9-8 in the season, James had been subjected to an unprecedented pour of hateful derogatory name-calling due to the Heat's underachieving record.

There was also speculation that same month preset to further tarnish his image when untimely reports highlighted he and then new head coach, Erik Spoelstra, weren't seeing eye to eye. 

Remarkably, however, James has since gotten his team to the NBA Finals without giving those distractions any merit, and while all who watched the league have somewhat cooled down, you still can sense the tension when his name is brought up in the likes of Miami possibly indulging in another parade-laden championship ceremony. It's like hating James has become a branded thing, though.

It's a relationship fans have with him and other African-American athletes that's tough to explain—but one that needs explaining.
One can only think that the quaint relationship most fans have with him and other ostentatiously perceived athletes is influenced by the cognitive processes of the fans themselves. Given the fact most African-American athletes have an origin of low socio-economic backgrounds, fans may feel entitled to treat and approach them however they so please.
Needless to say, there's truth to such heresy.

More to the point, though, don't you think it's about time for fans of both leagues (NBA and NFL) to check their egos and to quit compounding names of athletes with colorful phrases?

Call me crazy—but this has gotten out of control. Those fans should be more like you and I—in support of a chaste image of James.

I mean, he can't be that bad if he has an animated series out designed specifically for kids!