My parents always told me that hate was such a strong word. I’m sure most of you were told similar things by somebody prevalent in your life. But sports is the one tragic outlier to this rule. Sports can end relationships, friendships and put you at odds with family. It’s a consistent mess and for me, its almost unhealthy. There are millions of fans around the world that are just like me. Where there is love in sports, there is hate.
The National Basketball Association doesn’t necessarily grab my interest. Being born in Philadelphia in the early 90’s, I had the Allen Iverson driven 76ers of the early 2000’s. The prime of my basketball viewing career. I’m much more interested in college ball. LeBron James decided not to take the college ball route, being drafted in 2003 out of St. Vincent-St. Mary in Akron, Ohio. Miraculously the Cleveland Cavaliers had the first pick in the 2003 NBA Draft and no draft pick has ever made more sense. James instantly became one of the most popular players in the NBA. James rejuvenated a blue-collar city like Cleveland, Ohio. LeBron even took his Cavaliers to the NBA Finals in 2007, only to be swept by the San Antonio Spurs. Things started to change for James, as the talent that they brought in for him didn’t work and LeBron couldn’t win a championship for his home state. In 2010 LeBron went from basketball hero, to an unforgivable villain.
James and his publicity department decided what was best for him was to publicly televise his announcement of where he was going to play next. James chose the Miami Heat, a team that won the NBA championship in 2006 under star Dwayne Wade. LeBron decided that it was his best decision to team up with Wade and star power forward and former Toronto Raptor Chris Bosh. James not only publicly denounced Cleveland on national television but decided that he would rather join a group of stars instead of stars coming to Cleveland. Alas, LeBron was headed to South Beach and continued gaining attention by holding a “welcoming party” where he stated how many championships he intended on winning. He is quoted saying “We didn’t come here to win one championship, not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, not seven…”, his arrogance was just blossoming. The Miami Heat would become the most closely watched basketball team in all of the NBA. The first season for the Miami Heat was extremely unforgettable, as they would lose to the Dallas Mavericks during the 2010 NBA Finals. LeBron once again fell flat. The Heat though would rebound and would win the NBA title the next year. LeBron would finally be able to hold the championship high above his head. LeBron now is working on his second NBA championship, down 3-2 to the San Antonio Spurs, the team that beat LeBron back in 2007. LeBron heads home for games six and seven, which looks to be a thrilling finale. But how does this make him the most hated player in the NBA?
LeBron for me, makes me want to watch basketball. Not because I want to root for him, but I want to see him lose. I loathe him when he wins, and cheer when the Heat lose. What bothers me most about James is that everyone assumes that he is going to be the greatest of all time. I don’t even think he is the greatest player in the NBA right now. Kobe takes that one. LeBron ditched Ohio and their fans. James is also all over national media for his efforts. ESPN and NBAtv, can’t get enough of the LeBron James conversation and comparing him with the greats like Jordan, Magic and Kobe. Who else has gotten this much publicity in sports? Tim Tebow owns a majority of the NFL coverage, when he is relevant but unfortunately for LeBron, Tebow isn’t even a starter. Tiger Woods has rejuvenated his image from past years and Michael Vick has stayed squeaky clean as well. Another reason why LeBron James is my most hated athlete in all of sports is simply because he does still have a huge following. You’re either a huge LeBron fan or you can’t stand him. He is the NBA and the NBA needs a villain, and James was inserted beautifully. My friends call me a hater, I think i’m a realist. We have to be true sports fans and admit that we generally don’t like some of these stars.
I can’t think of anyone else that intrigues me more in the world of sports than LeBron, he brings out a hate, simply because of my love of sports.
Who do you think is the most hated athlete in the United States? Does LeBron top your list?