As an avid basketball fan and a player, there’s nothing I enjoy more than watching a great basketball game, with the exception of playing in one myself.
On that note, there’s nothing I admire more than a talented player — someone who shows up, works hard and leads their team in a way that other players can look up to.
One person who embodies these qualities is none other than the King himself, LeBron James.
However, what I’m about to say is definitely going to be met with a significant amount of opposition.
I’m not a James fan, and it’s for one simple reason.
Don’t get me wrong, the self-proclaimed “King” has earned his title — he’s a superstar. He carried a Cleveland Cavaliers team that was decimated due to postseason injuries into game six of the NBA finals.
His performances were unmatched, as James put up phenomenal numbers. In the whopping 273 minutes he played during the six games against Golden State, he scored 215 points and grabbed 80 rebounds. That averages out to nearly 36 points and 13 boards per game.
Honestly, those are numbers you can’t really argue with. His words, however, are an entirely different story.
Studying James’s interactions with the media throughout the series is almost as fascinating as watching him play — except for the fact that when he talks, things definitely come out the wrong way.
The first thing to take into consideration is how he addressed the fact that Kyrie Irving, one of the Cleveland Cavaliers’ other key players, would be inactive after game one due to a fractured knee cap. Irving was averaging over 20 points per game for the season, and was certainly a factor in helping the Cavaliers get as far as they did.
When asked by reporters about how Irving’s absence would affect the team, one of his comments was, “It sucks for him personally.”
It does suck for Irving, personally, to miss the Finals in a season that he worked really hard on. But to me, that sounds incredibly insensitive. James did say that it would be a huge blow to the team, but wouldn’t it have sounded so much better if he’d have said something along the lines of missing Irving on the court, or how much of an important player Irving was for the Cavs?
On the same note, after game five, James had a pretty interesting comment that didn’t sit well with me. He said in an interview, straight-faced, “I feel confident because I’m the best player in the world. It’s simple.”
Even if we put aside the fact that this statement is so proud and overbearing, it’s kind of extremely condescending to the reporter who asked the question. I get it. James was probably pretty irritated after game five, no one likes to lose — but that certainly does not give you the right to act like everyone else around you is inferior for not “simply” realizing that you’re the “best.”
The final issue I had during the series was a play at the end of game six, where instead of stepping up to play defense, James — who was standing right under the basket and could have easily stepped over — gave up, and gave Golden State’s Stephen Curry a wide-open layup.
There were only two minutes left, and the Warriors had a 12-point lead, but as a leader for the Cavaliers, I think that he should’ve stepped up. Instead, he stood and watched. I think that’s a huge character flaw, and sets a really poor example for his fans and his teammates.
I think hard work, success and humility are three of the most important values. It’s clear that James is a hard worker, and he’s nothing short of successful. And he’s right, he probably is the best player in the world, and it’s a ton of fun to watch him play because he’s so good.
But in my opinion, there’s a big difference between the player you are on the court and the character you have off it, and a big difference between doing things for show and your true colors.
I’ve debated my James-loathing with a lot of people, who have combated my claims about his poor attitude and proud nature by telling me how great he is to his fans, and how he gives so much money to charities.
That’s great, and I’m not downing it. But sometimes, it takes more than a nice three-pointer and a bunch of rebounds to win the game — it takes a good spirit, and I think “the best player in the world” has some room to improve on that.