Lebron James. Synonymous with greatness and controversy. Why is this the case?
Being that spotlight has its perks. From huge contracts, to endorsements, to adoration, and to freebees, being the center of attention is not so bad. However, it is not as good as it may appear to those who are not in the spotlight.
For one thing, being in the spotlight and being both adored and hated results in one thing: privacy does not exist. In today’s age, with social media it is near impossible to avoid controversy. Every tweet, status update, and picture immediately becomes viral. Everything is under the microscope.
This is the case of Lebron James.
Being covered since a highschool athlete, LBJ is no stranger to the media. During his early career he was lauded for his physical gifts, but was oft criticized due to his “inability” to the clutch shot. Also, he was knocked for being for not winning the finals, especially during his last year as Cavalier.
A major reason for Lebron hating is “The Decision”. This is often construed as some sort of tangible representation of his self-worship. He is also ripped for abandoning Cleveland, near his hometown of Akron, in such a lavish fashion.
What is often swept under the rug about this horrible event was the amount of money it generated…..for charity. Yes, LBJ, at the very least, partially did this to HELP people, which is much more than most athletes can claim to be, despite their unlimited access to the resources to do so.
From “The Decision”, 2 million dollars were raised for various Boys & Girls Clubs, including .5 million dollars for clubs in Northeast Ohio. According to Mark Gillespie of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer:
A contribution of nearly $60,000 repaired a leaky roof, refurbished a dingy gymnasium and will pay for a new playground at the Mount Pleasant club on East 131st Street. And the Slavic Village club on Broadway received $70,000, which was used to install a new gym floor and purchase bleachers. The club also is waiting on delivery of 20 new computers.
Both clubs also received a video sports training system and $2,500 worth of sports gear.
In addition to the $2 million cash contribution, James arranged for the donation of $500,000 in computers from Hewlett-Packard and $500,000 in gear from Nike. Fifty-nine Boys & Girls Clubs across the country are receiving help from James.”
Beyond that, he was criticized for joining a team with Bosh and Wade. This would essentially “taint” his possible trophies as he would have “too much help”. I find this very interesting as MJ is known as the best player to ever play the game. Yet he certainly had plenty of good players playing around him. Pippen, Rodman, and even Horace Grant were solid contributors. While you can make the point the D-Wade is better than them, consider the fact that Wade has bad knees and is not the player that he once was. Bosh is a good player, not a superstar worthy of a max contract, or a contract close to that.
Also take into consideration the fact that LBJ won his first title with the Heat in his second season, where Wade essentially passed the baton onto James. It was then that the power struggle ended, and Lebron took hold and brought this team a championship.
In my opinion, the biggest controversy stems on claiming that Lebron is superior to MJ or vice a versa. While these sorts of discussions are entertaining and interesting, I truly wonder if there is any merit to such discussions. For one thing, the quality of players or even the playing style of the game and of its players are different.
In today’s game, players are faster, taller, stronger, and have more competitive experience as AAU leagues, high school teams, and college basketball have skyrocketed in popularity. This leaves more opportunities for athletes to get exposure, creating a higher incentive for them to train more and participate in more leagues.
Even still, while these discussions are entertaining, they often turn contentious. I think they take away from appreciating the greats as it forces people to take a side. Either they defend MJ and hate on Lebron, hoping he never wins championships or has the stats of MJ or people try to dilute MJ’s meaning to the game and his accomplishments in an attempt to help James. I don’t understand why it has to be one or the other, why can’t it be both. Is it not enough to appreciate awesome talents such as these two? Why spend our time hating either of them?
While I do understand Lebron’s criticisms, I don’t think they should take away from what he has done, is doing, or will do. It is easy to get caught up in controversy, but it is better for the game and for us, the fans, to watch the greats and simply enjoy them.