Tuesday, June 21, 2011

9 comments Buzz Bissinger Wants To Know Why Everyone's Hating On LeBron James?

Buzz Bissinger just doesn't get why no one seems to like LeBron James right now. He seems to believe many people are reveling in the Heat's loss NBA Finals to the Dallas Mavericks and blaming James for the loss. Well it's true, many are. It may not be right, especially to ignore the Mavericks great play and defense that led to them winning the NBA title, but some of the blame can be put on James. There are people who dislike LeBron James for a variety of reasons, the least of which are they negatively view "The Decision" and his perceived inability to embrace the spotlight in big games.

I haven't ever really liked James simply because he plays on teams that are rivals to my favorite teams and I think he is a bit of a phony. The reason other people are hard on James is he calls himself "King James," he wears a wristband that says "King James" on it, so he sets the expectation he will be great on the court. When he isn't, some people take pride in watching him fail. For a few years James wanted Cleveland to get him more help in the form of quality players and then he goes down to Miami as the help to join up with two other quality players and can't win a championship on his first try. That's one of the reasons LeBron is so disliked right now, but Buzz still doesn't get this.

I was listening to the press conference of Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra Sunday night after the team’s humiliating loss to the Dallas Mavericks in the National Basketball Association finals. I knew of the media’s perverse obsession not only with the dismal play of LeBron James but also with James himself.

Buzz "knew" of the media's perverse obsession with the dismal (LeBron really didn't play dismal) play of James. As a member of the media, Buzz was able to intuitively know about this perverse obsession the media has with James firsthand. Those crazy media members! Buzz is too good to play to this obsession the media has...or is he?

Buzz writes for "The Daily Beast" about once a week or once every other week. This column is the third time Buzz has written about LeBron James since March 11 and this encompasses 10 total columns over this span. So it seems Buzz either enjoys the pageviews LeBron James gives him or he has a small obsession with LeBron as well.

What's even better is on March 11, 2011 Buzz wrote a column titled "King James Can't Handle the Pressure." So at that point, it seems Buzz was one of the journalists writing about how King James was playing poorly (or at the Heat were) and he was one of the journalists obsessed with James' dismal play. Here we are now though, with Buzz wondering why everyone is commenting on James' performance and hating on him. Apparently Buzz saying LeBron can't handle the pressure was just motivating James and not criticizing him. See, Buzz was trying to make LeBron be a better person, not criticizing LeBron unfairly like all the other perverse obsessed journalists are. At least I am guessing that's how Buzz sees it or he had forgotten he wrote that March 11 column.

I still thought the first question at least would have something to do with the Mavericks and how well they had played.

These are questions asked by the media directed towards the Heat head coach remember. Not the Mavericks head coach. The media isn't there to hear from the losing team about how well the Mavericks played, but Spoelstra's thoughts on the performance of the best player on his team...the same team that was favored to win the NBA Finals and the same team that was assembled to win an NBA title in their first year together. So I think questions about LeBron James directed to Erik Spoelstra should be somewhat expected.

The first question was about James. The second question was about James. The third question was about James, all of them in the same vein of what went wrong with him and why had he been so lousy in the Heat’s six-game losing effort.

Yes, the media is obsessed with James' performance. Considering the fact LeBron James made a huge public display of going to Miami and trying to win championships, the fact he didn't win a championship is a big story. More importantly, it is a big story that was created, developed, and nurtured by LeBron James (or his handlers) since July of last year. So as much as I think the media overhypes nearly everything, it isn't like James is an innocent bystander in all of this. He made a huge public show of going to Miami, predicted multiple championships and then didn't seem to step his game up to win the first of those championships.

It was like that all through the finals for James, constant and withering criticism of his play, constant dissection of every comment and every body movement. Anthony Weiner’s sexting? James made him do it.

Yes, poor LeBron James should be a martyr for putting himself directly in the spotlight as wanting to win multiple championships with the Heat and then not delivering on the specific thing he had put himself in the spotlight for. This is what I am always complaining about. An athlete/public figure wants all of the public adoration when it is convenient to further their career, but they want privacy and the public to go away when it no longer fits their agenda. James can't shrink into the background when the time comes to win the title he came to Miami to win and expect no criticism.

Now I do think the James criticism is overboard at this point. James didn't play quite as poorly as many made him out to play and the Heat probably will win the NBA title next year. So it isn't like this was a one year thing where the Heat will/should be broken up. To lack the understanding of why the criticism is overboard is being intentionally blind to the truth...that LeBron James has craved and looked for the spotlight his entire career. It has made him millions of dollars and now the spotlight isn't in his favor, but this doesn't mean some of the criticism should halt.

Starvation. Drought. War.

James. James. James.

Let's cut back on the martyrdom for a guy who Nike used in an advertising campaign to make the Cleveland fans "Witnesses." It is hard to feel bad for a guy who is portrayed as a deity-type figure.

He truly is the most hated athlete in all of sports.

No, he's not. I personally still hate Brett Favre way, way more. Favre was on SportsCenter the other night because he was throwing a football with little kids. Apparently this is news. He needs to go the hell away.

Did you see that smile? What about the way he bent down to tie his shoelace? And how about guzzling from the water bottle during a timeout as if he was the only one who was thirsty? What a selfish bastard.

(Bengoodfella gives Buzz Bissinger five minutes to calm down and stop stomping his feet on the ground in a childish manner)

Yes, the criticism is overboard. Exaggerating the way the criticism has gone overboard serves no purpose. You won't ever see me write that LeBron James is done from an endorsement point of view, the Heat should break up their team or LeBron "doesn't know how to win," because that's stupid. But, with great power comes great responsibility (not to go "Spiderman" on you), so with the power LeBron had to have everyone interested in him going to Miami he also had a responsibility to follow through on what he promised. He just wasn't able to do that this year. There is an overabundance of criticism and criticism that is probably a little harsh, but when you paint yourself as a savior this criticism is going to come when you don't execute the savior role well.

The rats ate up every crumb, regardless of the significance. The goal was to maliciously condemn him, and to that extent the media rats got their wish:

This coming from the guy who wrote an article earlier this year titled, "King James Can't Handle the Pressure."

How about some quotes from this article. Remember, Buzz isn't condemning LeBron here, not at all. This isn't Buzz with what he calls in this article "a perverse obsession with the dismal play of James," because Buzz doesn't have to play by the rules he himself sets up.

The result is a player who is psychologically soft, not a leader, still a cut-up kid masked by the physical maturity of his body, always placed on a pedestal by his coaches and teammates even when he deserves to be knocked off and dressed down and told that he has the stuff of a loser, not a winner.

If James was crying after the loss to the Bulls, it may well stem from a creeping fear that he cannot be counted on when it counts the most.

As for being a team leader, the very notion is a joke. James doesn’t have the presence; his affect is flat and dull, eager to avoid confrontation because of a difficult childhood in the Akron projects in which his only goal was to stay away from trouble.

The team was lousy when he got there in 2003. There were no expectations upon him; even as the team got better and better there were still no expectations upon him. It was a perfect situation for him, an excuse in every pocket of his finely tailored trousers—

This is the defining season of LeBron James. He must deliver an NBA championship. It is his eighth year and his career pivots on a pyramid. Jordan won in his eighth season. Magic Johnson won in his first. Larry Bird won in his second. They had the cast they needed and so does James. The trouser pockets are empty of excuses.

the more it seems likely that King James will never be the king of anything except the court and castle of adulation.

Buzz spends an entire column criticizing LeBron James for nearly the exact same things, and in nearly the exact same way, Buzz is criticizing other people for saying about LeBron in this column. Feel free to go to the March 11 column and see I didn't cherry pick quotes. I left some quotes out. It's pure hypocrisy.

He is Public Enemy No. 1 of the tear-down culture in which human foible, unintentional mistakes, and boneheaded stupidity are not allowed. There used to be a period of grace. But not anymore. One gutter ball and you’re out.

Read those above quotes again. If you don't find hypocrisy in what Buzz wrote in March and what he is writing now, then you need to read the quotes yet again. This is pure "Do as I say, not as I do" writing.

But the vitriol, the spewing hatred spit out with such gleeful self-satisfaction by commentator after commentator, has sunk to a new level of nuclear negativity.

To an extent, I do agree. Adrian Wojnarowski seems to really enjoy putting LeBron down, but I am sure there are also good arguments for how LeBron is now becoming a victim of the media attention he has always adored and created for himself.

Why is he hated more than Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who was accused of sexual assault and is considered a stone-cold jerk by most players in the National Football League?

He's not really. Let's not confuse "hate" with "really enjoying his failure." I don't hate LeBron James the way I hate other athletes. Do I enjoy LeBron's failure more than I do most athletes? Yes, I do. Not because I hate LeBron James, but (he is a rival of my favorite team as well) because he, Wade, and Bosh made a big show of coming to Miami to win championships because LeBron felt he didn't have enough help around him in Cleveland. So do I enjoy him not winning a title when he has enough help from his supporting cast? Yes, I do.

What I enjoy more is it then turned out he was the one who seemed to rely on his supporting cast (by passing the ball in the fourth quarter and seemingly not outplaying Dirk) rather than step up and take over the game. LeBron didn't play terribly, so anyone who says he did is wrong. He did seem to pass the ball to his teammates or pull away from taking over the game in spots where we expected him to not pull away. He didn't step up and be great when he had in the past indicated he would step up if he just had the supporting cast on his team to help him get to the point where he could be great. I think that is the source of much of the discussion on James.

He wanted to play with teammates who could help him get him to the Finals so he could take over the game. His greatness seemed to be wasted among teammates who couldn't help him get to the big game in Cleveland. LeBron just needed to get there with teammates that could support his quest and didn't rely on him to do everything in the big game. Then it turned out when he got to the big game he didn't step his game up as we expected him to. It appears LeBron wanted to be a great player among other great players rather than the best player on a great team.

Yes, we all know that James left Cleveland without grace or class. Yes, we know that the Heat, in some ridiculous version of a Las Vegas floor show, had the big three of James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh greeting Miami fans in a raucous pep rally as if they had already won the championship before the season had even started.

Both of these things can't just be glossed over. This was all a part of the build-up to what was going to be a championship team. Much of the reason LeBron is taking criticism is because he hyped up his signing with the Heat so much. He didn't have to have a special on ESPN about his decision to go to Miami and he didn't have to attend the Heat pep rally. But he did. It made him look like a conquering hero before he had done the required conquering.

On the other hand, James wanted to go to the place where he thought he had the best chance of winning. Where should he have gone? The Golden State Warriors? Why stay in Cleveland?

No one is criticizing the move. It is the way the move was done and really no one should care about that anymore. It's old news.

In baseball, players do that all the time in free agency, and no one makes a peep about disloyalty. Has there been any sustained criticism of Albert Pujols for not signing with the St. Louis Cardinals, where he has played his entire career?

Albert Pujols still plays for the Cardinals and hasn't joined another team in free agency yet. That's a major difference in these two situations. They aren't even comparable.

Should pitcher C.C. Sabathia have stayed with the Cleveland Indians because it would have been a really nice thing to do for the city?

Again, Buzz Bissinger must have some mental deficiency where his brain doesn't understand the correct way to make comparisons. Sabathia was TRADED from the Indians to the Brewers, he did not just sign with the Yankees after leaving the Indians. It is likely Sabathia would not have signed with the Indians, but for the sake of comparison to LeBron James this is a bad comparison.

Baseball free agents are almost always looking for millions more.

Except for Cliff Lee, who was the best pitcher on the free agent market this past offseason and turned down more money to play in Philadelphia.

The book I co-wrote with James, Shooting Stars, did not do particularly well. Maybe the fault was in the execution. Maybe the theme, about James and the four friends he befriended who all played together at St. Vincent-St. Mary high school in Akron, just wasn’t sexy enough.

Perhaps people don't like you and don't want to read books you co-write.

He wasn’t the one who called himself “The Chosen One.” The moniker was bestowed on him by Sports Illustrated when the magazine did a cover story on him as a junior in high school.

Of course LeBron James was FORCED to do the cover of Sports Illustrated, right? He had no choice in the matter is what Buzz wants you to believe. LeBron did what every high school athlete would do and agreed to it. It isn't like he didn't have a choice in the matter though. He could have declined.

He wasn’t the one who forced ESPN to show several of his games live on national television his senior year.

LeBron is the one who has a "King James" bracelet though. He never did anything to dissuade the media and public from thinking he was anything more than the greatest player on the planet.

He wasn’t the one who created a constant media circus.

This is absolutely untrue. LeBron has allowed the constant media circus to be all around him. He made a public spectacle of his free agency, he did nothing to dissuade Heats fans he was their savior by tempering championship expectations, when LeBron played for the Cavs he signed off on a "We are Witnesses" ad campaign that was essentially a tribute to his greatness, and he has made nearly his entire career of being called "King James." It's even his fucking Twitter handle. So James had trumped up his greatness his entire career, so what follows is the media circus.

Fans were lying in wait for James to come into the NBA with the patina of being the greatest ever when he had not played a single game. Instead James pleasantly surprised everybody with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

So if at that point everybody loved LeBron James. It is obvious he was loved at one point in his career. What could have happened since 2003 that would make people feel differently about him? I would partially explain the public feeling differently about him because the public is pretty fickle on how they feel about athletes and I would also partially explain the public's feelings on LeBron James by the actions he has taken since 2003. So as much as Buzz Bissinger would like to pretend it isn't true, LeBron's own actions have shaped public perception.

He was approachable and humble while proud as any successful person in life must be.

I am sure he was approachable to sportswriters or for any other media member who could help hm become more popular and wealthy. As I have stated, LeBron craved and wanted the attention early in his career because it served his purposes. This makes him the exact same as nearly every other athlete by the way. James wanted to be the most known and successful basketball player and athlete on the planet, so now he is becoming exactly that. There is a negative side to being this well known and popular and that is the criticism an athlete receives when things go wrong.

Still, I doubt he was approachable by the general public, even when he was just breaking into the NBA.

But I think that the fundamentally decent essence of LeBron James is still there. Is he more guarded? Who wouldn’t be, given the avalanche of negative publicity he has gotten this season?

Poor LeBron. He wouldn't have wanted the publicity if he knew it wouldn't be all positive publicity.

Did it affect his play during the finals? Of course. Shutting out the constant noise of hatred is impossible.

I really don't believe it is hatred. Is it criticism of his play in the NBA Finals based on the spectacle that he (or his camp) caused? Yes, it is. Again, LeBron created this constant noise himself. He made a huge public spectacle of the move to Miami and he guaranteed multiple championships. To an extent some criticism and joy at the Heat failing to win a title is understandable. He put himself on the pedestal and we are more than willing to knock him down.

Through all of this talk about LeBron James not stepping up it seems to have been forgotten the Mavericks played well enough to win the NBA title. They did a good job of defending LeBron and frankly they deserved to win the series.

In the tear-down culture in which we engorge ourselves like ticks bloated on blood, I guess he truly is the King.

I guess we could say, as Buzz did previously, LeBron James just couldn't handle the pressure.

The criticism of LeBron has reached a boiling point, I don't know if I would disagree with that. It doesn't take much work to figure out exactly why this criticism is coming the way of LeBron. Is it too much? Perhaps, but that doesn't mean some of the criticism or feelings about LeBron aren't somewhat justified.


Rich said...

::Alex Trebek walks on stage to thunderous applause::

Alex: "Thank you all for coming out for another day of Jeopardy. ::reads categories::. Rich you get to pick the first category."

Me: "I'll go with 'sites things that don't belong on'"

Trebek: "Good choice and the answer is: Starvation. Drought. War. "

Me: "What are things that don't belong on a sports site?"

Trebek: "Correct. If you want to read about those things, watch CNN."

He wasn’t the one who called himself “The Chosen One.”

But he calls himself "king" and actually refers to himself this way... it's kind of pathetic.

There used to be a period of grace. But not anymore. One gutter ball and you’re out.

::thinks about the past seven years:: He's been a pretty big douchebag for a while now and only until he pulled the decision did people start caring about it.

spit out with such gleeful self-satisfaction by commentator after commentator

I love it when self-entitled a-holes who think the world owes them something (like an NBA championship) get nothing in the end. I absolutely love it. LeBron did one of the most egotistical, pompous and arrogant things I've seen in sports (right up there with Favre's retirements) to "win championships" (except he refused to take less than a max contract killing the team's ability to get quality role players) and he got absolutely jack shit.

I will not hide it. It absolutely made my life seem a little better.

It is the way the move was done and really no one should care about that anymore.

A thousand times this. Journalists for how "smart" and "intellectual" they think they are, simply cannot fathom this idea.

They aren't even comparable.

Another way they're not comparable: Pujols actually won a championship in St. Louis.

He wasn’t the one who forced ESPN to show several of his games live on national television his senior year.

But he did manipulate ESPN to air his "decision" when a press conference would have done just as well. Remember when A-Rod made his announcement during the world series and everyone gave him flak?


Are we talking about the same guy here? LeBron, the guy who calls himself "King," a guy who appeared in an ESPN commercial where he had a throne, the guy who pouted about the players on his team? This is "humble"?

Did it affect his play during the finals? Of course. Shutting out the constant noise of hatred is impossible.

As you pointed out BGF, this coming from a guy who added to that criticism. Sorry, but if you don't want the criticism, don't act like a self-entitled douche. If James had come out and said "I want to play with Bosh and Wade in Miami" and that was it, no one would care.

When you make a spectacle and guarantee greatness, people are going to root against you. Just like people rooted against the Patriots in 2008, which remains the only time I have ever worn Giants gear in Philadelphia and been thanked.

Americans hate pompous dicks. LeBron is a pompous dick who sulks like a 13 year old girl who had her cellphone taken away. In a very real sense, it's incredibly gratifying.

Bengoodfella said...

Rich, I just feel bad the media has forced LeBron to be in the spotlight like they have. How irresponsible to take a simply young man and then force him to live in the spotlight.

I pretty much second all you said. We can handle our athletes being great as long as they don't start to actually publicly think they are great. I can't believe someone who gives himself the nickname "King" is a humble person. I find that hard to believe. Specifically since it is his Twitter handle AND he has a wristband that says it.

LeBron started the noise. By joining Bosh and Wade he made sure there was focus on his attempts to win a title. He should have known if his attempt fails, and it is because he didn't hold up his end of the bargain, then his excuses have run out. He has the supporting cast, he needs to win a title to support the perception of how good he is (which was created by him)...which he will a title, just not this year.

Murray said...

Of course I love seeing him fail. I'm a Celtics fan

your favourite sun said...

(except he refused to take less than a max contract killing the team's ability to get quality role players)

I thought he did take less than max? I didn't pay close attention to the hoopla last year but my understanding was that Wade, James and Bosh all took less than they could have gotten so that Miami had enough left over to sign Mike Miller.

Bengoodfella said...

Sun, LeBron did take less than the max so the Heat would have room to sign other players. As I understand it, he did it so they could have enough money to have a full roster. I think, and Rich could confirm this, he was saying LeBron could have taken even less money and allowed the Heat to get 1-2 other valuable role players rather than counting on Mike Bibby or Juwan Howard.

rich said...


James went to Miami in a sign and trade, so he took less than Cleveland could offer, but I believe he still ended up getting more than Miami could have offered had he gone their as a free agent.

Other than that BGFs point is on target. If you leave for the purpose of winning a championship, maybe not taking 1/3rd of the team's salary cap would be a good idea. I mean Joel Anthony... gesh...

your favourite sun said...

I tried figuring out the most a free agent could make without a sign-and-trade but sources seem to contradict one another on this. It seems like the CBA says he could have gotten $2 million more than he did, even without sign-and-trade. He made less this year than last year, which means that he definitely signed for less than maximum, as a player can always get a raise even if he's changing teams.

The three highest paid players on Miami made almost the exact same amount of money as the three highest paid players on Boston. The top three from San Antonio is similar, while Dallas was only a shade less(and their 3rd highest paid player was Butler). Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol make about the same between just the two of them. In 2008 KG, Pierce and Allen easily chewed up more of the payroll than Miami's three guys...in fact I think they added up to 100+% of the salary cap itself. In other words, the salaries of Miami's three guys didn't hinder the ability to build around them any more than the salaries of the superstars of other teams. Difference is Miami didn't draft Rondo and Perkins: Boston signed Sam Cassell and P.J. Brown in '08 because that's the sort of thing contenders do, but unlike the Heat this year they didn't have to rely too much on those kinds of players. Miami lacked depth but they had the same financial situation as previous champions.

It's a non-issue. LeBron signed for less than max but still a ton of money presumably because he wants to both win titles and make a ton of money. Just like countless others before him. I'm only (semi-)harping on this point because it's nitpicking. There are valid reasons to not be a LBJ fan; his salary is not one since it's not unique from other superstars who want to win titles.

Rich said...

The thing about his salary is that it increases substantially over the next few years.

I don't hold the money against him, but to say you're going somewhere to "win a championship," taking up about a third of your team's salary cap might not be the best way to do it. For comparison, Wade technically should be able to get the most money from the Heat. He's actually 500K less than either Bosh or James.

By 2015, over 65M will be given to just Bosh, Wade and James, that's a tough, tough hole to build a team around.

I get that he wants to make a ton of money, but considering his advertising money, if he were trully after a championship, would it really be a deal breaker to take say 15M a season? or 14M?

your favourite sun said...

Building around 3 superstars should not be that tough and they've got years to do it. It doesn't matter much that their salaries go up because they were likely going to be over the cap every year anyways beginning now, unless they simply chose to sign no one else last offseason. Which in hindsight is what they should have done, but instead they gave out long-term deals to Mike Miller, Udonis Haslm and Joel Anthony, which all but guaranteed that they'd be over the cap for the next five(now four) years even if the 3 stars all signed at flat rates.

Being over the cap doesn't limit the ability to build a champion--just look at the Dallas Mavericks. They've been over the cap for so long that they still have the likes of Walt Williams, Kevin Willis and Vernon Maxwell counting toward their cap number. Dirk will make more money in the 2013-14 season than LeBron will make in any season of his current conract. Kevin Garnett takes up more of the salary cap than LBJ, as do Dirk, Tim Duncan and Kobe Bryant, none of whom are entering their prime. Jordan made more money with his endorsements and still got over $60 million his last two seasons in Chicago. Paying superstars like superstars does not put GMs in that tough a position to build around them. Hell, the Orlando Magic paid Rashard Lewis more than what James is getting and they managed to make a Finals run with him, then were able to dump his salary when it became too embarrassing.

LeBron signing for a flat rate would not affect Miami's chances of winning a title much, if at all. You're ultimately saying either that James should have made a PR gesture signing for less even when he was already signing for less than market value and it didn't make people resent him any less, or that he shouldn't say he wants to win titles while signing for a lot of money, even though that's what every single superstar(plus Rashard Lewis) says when they sign a huge deal. Either way I don't get it.