Help me out people…
Polarize – to divide into sharply opposing factions (Dictionary.com)
There are quite a few polarizing athletes who have dominated the sports scene over the last decade. Some of them have been among the best at what they do (i.e. Tiger Woods, Tom Brady, Floyd Mayweather, Bryce Harper), while others leaned more towards mediocre (Tim Tebow, Colin Kaepernick). Lebron James is also on this list… but he shouldn’t be.
I’m not here to argue Lebron’s greatness. I will continue to let his game speak for itself. But what I still can’t wrap my head around is why he is among the most polarizing athletes of this current era. All of the other names I mentioned make sense:
- Tiger Woods came onto the golf scene fist pumping, talking trash, and destroying all of the household names. This is an easy way to make enemies. Combine this with his infidelity off the course, and you have someone that most will either love or hate.
- Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are the greatest coach and quarterback combo of all time. Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are documented cheaters. Those two things don’t sit well with most sports fans.
- Floyd “Money” Mayweather has let his violence in the boxing ring spill over into his living room. His unblemished record is not enough to avoid the negative attention his partying lifestyle brings with it.
- Bryce Harper is the young phenom who has ruffled the feathers of the old baseball traditionalists since he broke into the league. His polarization seems to increase along with his slugging percentage. He creates drama with every bat flip, pitcher stare down, and controversial tweet.
- Tim Tebow and Colin Kaepernick each broke one of the “cardinal rules” of society: don’t mix faith and/or politics into your sports. Each of these two players had magical runs, but quickly found themselves out of the NFL.
I understand why all of the athletes above are polarizing for one reason or another. I DON’T understand why the same is true of Lebron. If you are one of those who find yourself in the “I hate Lebron” camp, please help me understand. But before you help me understand, read what I have to say.
- People most often tell me that they hate Lebron because of “The Decision” (For those who don’t know, this refers to the event back in 2010 when Lebron nationally televised his announcement that he was leaving the Cavaliers to “take his talents” to Miami). I understand that he could have went about it in a more humble way, and I think even Lebron in hindsight would have done it a bit differently. But you can’t tell me he should have stayed in Cleveland with that ragtag roster, and you also can’t take away the fact that the event raised millions for local Boys and Girls Clubs in the area.
- Another reason people seem to hate Lebron is because “Lebron created the super team” when he joined DWade and Bosh in Miami. This is a completely false narrative. People act like “super teams” was a new phenomenon. You are telling me that Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and James Worthy wasn’t a stacked team? What about MJ, Scottie, and Rodman? All three hall of famers. In 2008 Lebron got knocked out of the playoffs by the Celtics “Big Three” of Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Kevin Garnett almost a year before he left to join Miami. It’s wrong to put the creation of the super team on Lebron.
- The other most used reason why people hate Lebron is that he complains to the refs and is a “cry baby” and a “drama queen”. A few thoughts on this. If you have watched the NBA lately you will see that ALL PLAYERS whine and cry to the refs. It has become an extremely unfortunate but routine part of the game today. I hate it, but all players do it. As for the drama that comes along with Lebron, I will just say this: for someone who has been heralded as “The Chosen One” by sports media since he was 16, Lebron has handled himself with more class that most anyone else would under the bizarre circumstances. I wish Michael Jordan had lived during the current social media era that we live in today, and seen how he would have handled it.
Lebron has never been in trouble off the court. He married his high school sweetheart. He loves his kids, and attends their games when he can. He speaks out for social issues in which he sees injustice. He doesn’t really talk that much trash, or say controversial things to opponents or the media. He went BACK to Cleveland (to Cleveland people!) to help bring his hometown their first championship in professional sports. He is loyal to his friends, and is devoted philanthropist. He loves to pass the ball to his teammates. Now I sound like a Lebron James butt kisser, so I am going to stop writing and just post this heartwarming video of Lebron hugging a fan who hits a half court shot to win money. For those who enjoy the game of basketball, no matter what side of the Lebron camp you reside on, there is no denying the game will dearly miss him when his run comes to an end. Let’s enjoy it while it lasts!