Look, I get it. He left his childhood home to “take his talents to South Beach”. Not only did he leave, he set up a grand exit on ESPN to announce to his team and fans of his home state that he was leaving, instead of leaving the “right way”. Then, he compounded the situation by going on TV, once again, with his new Heat mates to announce to his new city and fans that he was going to win 5, 6, or 7 NBA World Championships.
Obviously, more than any other athlete I can remember, LeBron James has put himself out there for all to see and criticize. And, obviously, more so than any other athlete of all-time, the media and fans have taken full advantage of the opportunity to “demonize” James as much as they have any other athlete in history. The headlines, the debates, the Tweets, the Facebook messages, the radio call-ins, the rants, and the raves about “King” James have been ruthless and endless.
I should point out that I am not a “big” LeBron fan. If he had gone to another team other than the Cavs right out of St. Vincent – St. Mary High School, I would probably like him more. I do not like or enjoy anything about the city of Cleveland. The Indians, the Browns, and the Cavs can all kiss my ass frankly. I have only met a hand full of people from Cleveland for whom I don’t find myself wanting to slit their throat or my wrists when I am in their presence. I have been a “Kobe guy” when the debate of which of the two is a better player comes up and I will remain in the “Kobe Camp”.
Saying all of this, what did LeBron James do to really deserve all of the hostility pointed his way? He handled his departure from Cleveland badly, but did that warrant so much “hate”? Players leave cities and towns all over the world every day to chase money or titles, or dreams. Was Lebron’s exit so terrible that he should now be “enemy #1” in all of sports? James has not committed any sort of crime that I am aware of, but somehow he is being “criminalized” by the media and fans.
James has never been accused of murder, rape, child abuse, spousal abuse, robbery, shop lifting, tax evasion, man-slaughter, child pornography, driving under the influence, prostitution,, drug abuse, or any other crimes other professional athletes have been accused of or prosecuted for. He has never shot himself in the leg, been involved in an illegal dog fighting ring, and he has not sent any semi-nude pictures of himself to anyone on Twitter that I am aware of. Yet, LeBron James is now seen as a villain, while other athletes and celebrities are held in high regard after much more grievous acts than a bad exit from a former employer.