Top 3 Reasons We Love To Hate LeBron
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Top 3 Reasons We Love To Hate LeBron

Top 3 Reasons We Love To Hate LeBron

He’s the first player in 50 years to make five consecutive NBA finals. He has more sponsors than you can count on both hands. He’s the best player in the world. He’s LeBron James. It’s nearly impossible for you to not know who this guy is, and there's a good possibility either you, or someone you know, hates him.

As popular as LeBron is, just as many people seem to hate the guy as much as they root for him. As much as I respect LeBron’s game, it’s understandable why people find him so easy to root against. These reasons have little to do with the decisions LeBron has made on the court -- he’s improved his shooting throughout his career, he’s hit buzzer-beaters, and he’s won titles. Instead, the top three reasons why people love to hate LeBron are more related to questionable off-court decisions made by ‘King James’ himself.

1. Wearing #23, Changing to #6, and changing back #23.

When LeBron came into the NBA, he came in a big way. We’ll talk more about his big entrance into the league later, but for now, we’ll just stick to the numbers -- or, in this case, the number: 23. Although the number is not retired by the NBA, Michael Jordan’s jersey number was regarded as sacred turf. Many saw wearing 23 as a disrespectful gesture to Jordan (who is popularly regarded as the best basketball player ever), a way to put tremendous pressure on oneself, or a combination of both.

Coming into the league from high school, rookie LeBron chose his jersey number as 23. This put even more pressure on LeBron then he already had, gave traction to his early haters, and threw his name into Jordan comparisons from the beginning of his career.

Suddenly, in his seventh season, LeBron shocked the basketball world.

“I think no guy in the NBA should ever wear 23. He can’t get the NBA logo, much respect to Jerry West. So I think his number shouldn’t be worn by any player in the NBA. So I’m thinking about changing my number next year. Just to show a tribute to what he did for this game – to pioneer everybody, he laid the stepping-stones for everybody to come up through the ranks. I’m going to change my number next year because that’s how much respect I got for a guy like that.” James LeBron

Following his public argument against his own previous decision to wear 23, LeBron changed his number to 6 the following season. However, four years later, and earlier this season, LeBron decided to go back to 23. Huh? LeBron basically told us why nobody in the league should wear 23, and then changed his number back to 23. Did he forget what he told the world about respecting Michael Jordan’s number, or did he lose his respect for MJ?

2. We were all witnesses to King James.

As we noted before, LeBron didn’t come into the league in a quiet way. While being loud and proud shouldn’t necessarily be an indictment, many would argue that LeBron took it to another level. Other than the fact that he donned Michael Jordan’s number coming into the league, LeBron also got a huge back tattoo that reads “CHOSEN1” and was now dubbing himself King James. Along with giving himself this not-so humble nickname, LeBron adopted a popular catchphrase, “We are all witnesses.” Nike launched a huge campaign around this phrase and LeBron, putting up huge billboards around Cleveland that had huge pictures of The King.

Of course, this phrase gave way for many haters to kick LeBron when he was already down -- whenever LeBron did poorly, “We are all witnesses” took on an entirely different tone. Also, when LeBron eventually left Cleveland for Miami, it was noted that we were all witnesses to his controversial departure.

3. Loyalty.

For most LeBron haters, this reason tops all others. This shouldn’t necessarily be a surprise -- for a large majority of sports fans, loyalty is a massive asset. While the business aspect of sports makes it incredibly difficult for players and teams to truly remain loyal, the vast majority of the NBA’s legends were superstars that could be synonymously intertwined and mentioned with an organization and its city. Think of Magic Johnson, Bill Russell, Julius Erving, Jerry West, Larry Bird, Isiah Thomas, Elgin Baylor, and John Stockton. Even most basketball fans chalk up Jordan’s last two seasons with the Washington Wizards as a sham, are more than happy to forget that Hakeem Olajuwon played his last season with the Toronto Raptors (after playing the previous seventeen with the Houston Rockets), and recognize Oscar Robertson as a Milwaukee Buck, even though he played his first ten seasons with the now non-existent Cincinnati Royals. Point is, basketball loves its loyalty. LeBron James directly came in conflict with loyalty -- not just once, but twice.

Just as his entrance into Cleveland was grand, the same could be said for his exit. Broadcasting from the Boys and Girls Club of Greenwich, Conn., LeBron James and ESPN ran a 75 minute-long special called ‘The Decision,’ which would be where James would ultimately tell the world that he was leaving his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers to play for the Miami Heat.

While LeBron may have had good intentions with the nationally televised special (the show raised around $6 million for charities), the city of Cleveland could care less. Soon, fans throughout the city of Cleveland were posting videos online of them burning LeBron jerseys, which soon made it’s way to many national news outlets and television stations. Even Cleveland Cavaliers majority owner Dan Gilbert released a letter through the teams website that attacked LeBron, and gave fodder to LeBron haters everywhere. Throughout the vast jabs at LeBron, the one that stuck out most was when Gilbert stated, “I personally guarantee that the Cleveland Cavaliers will win an NBA championship before the self-entitled former ‘King’ wins one.”

Of course, most basketball fans know that things didn’t go exactly as Gilbert said. LeBron James joined his fellow 2003 lottery picks, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh, in Miami, went to four straight finals, and won two championships with the Miami Heat. From the beginning of his tenure in Miami, LeBron made it clear that he was in it for the long haul -- Miami Heat fans didn’t have to worry that LeBron was going anywhere.

Basketball fans know that things didn’t exactly go as LeBron said. After four years with the Miami Heat, LeBron left his fellow amigos in Miami’s historic ‘Big Three,’ all doing so in a much quieter tone than he did in years past. Through an online letter of sorts, LeBron told the world, “I’m coming home,” starting his journey back to Cleveland.

His entrance back to Cleveland meant two things: the city of Cleveland finally had something to be happy about again, and LeBron was turning his back to Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh, Pat Riley, and the Miami Heat. His exit out of Miami was so quiet that it took Wade, Bosh, Riley, and the city of Miami all by surprise.

Many would argue that LeBron’s decision to return to the city of Cleveland shows loyalty in itself. However, it’s kind of hard to forget about the part where LeBron’s exit out of the Cavaliers was so messy that Cleveland’s owner called it a “cowardly betrayal.” It’s even harder to forget when you realize that LeBron left two of his closest confidants, Wade and Bosh, to go back to play for the same boss that basically called him a piece of crap. It’s kind of like the number controversy, but it has a vastly stronger effect on the people around him.

While LeBron may be playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers, it’s hard to ignore that the bulk of his accomplishments and accolades came when he was playing for the Miami Heat, alongside Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh. And since Miami was already Dwayne Wade’s team before LeBron got there (Wade previously won a title for Miami in 2006), LeBron was easily seen as a guy who shamefully left his city to win a ring -- something he had not done in Cleveland, and something he did not accomplish until his second season in Miami.

If all of this seems really confusing to you, it’s fine -- it should be. The way I see it, sports is the best reality television show. Sure, you can see that someone did something stupid by simply reading a tweet or two. But if you tune in all the time, have knowledge of both small and big storylines, and know the context, it takes your understanding of that stupid situation to another level; you might not even think it’s stupid, anymore.

By being an active viewer of the soap opera of LeBron James, we’re left to make our own decisions on LeBron’s decisions. My view on LeBron is similar to my view on Drake: while I respect his game and final products, I can’t help but look past some of the decisions that were made in such a weird, distasteful, and regrettable way.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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