As good a player as he is, LeBron James might do well to figure out that criticism isn’t the same thing as hate.
Over the years you figure this out. Too much of a good thing, even a thing you once couldn’t get enough of, eventually wears on you…gets old.
Such are the comments of LeBron James this week when he went viral in his disregard and apparent contempt for TNT analyst, and former NBA star, Charles Barkley.
Barkley criticized James recently for what he called, “constant whining about needed upgrades to the Cavaliers’ roster”, which in turn led James to comment, “He (Barclay) is a hater. What makes him credible? Because he’s on TV?”
And then he added: “I’m not going to let him disrespect my legacy.”
To be sure, I respect James as one of the greatest basketball players in the history of the sport. I regard him the same as I once did Jerry West, Bob Gibson in baseball, and Peyton Manning in football. Only, players like West, Gibson, and Manning never took their celebrity as seriously as what James apparently does.
Sure, Manning has made money through his work as a pitch man for Buick, Nationwide Insurance, and Papa John’s pizza – a lot of money. But he never crossed the line of lashing out at someone – as a hater – when they questioned his lack of championships, or even his arm strength. He collected his check, and he just played.
I wish more people in the public eye, as James is – and even Donald Trump – could be satisfied with doing the same.
LeBron James is paid tens of millions to simply play basketball. The fate of the country and the free world is not in his hands. His only responsibility is to entertain, and win. And frankly, no one outside of Cleveland and Akron gives a damn about his legacy, or for his being (in his words) disrespected.
In fact, his understanding of being disrespected is hard to justify compared to that person in Cleveland that struggles to pay the bills and feed his family. That person has a right, perhaps, to feel disrespected.
More, he would do well to understand, and admit, that his view of ‘hate’ really isn’t hate at all. Criticism isn’t hate, it’s simply an opinion. Again, LeBron is paid to play. Charles Barkley is paid – get it, paid – to give analysis and state opinions. Regardless of what he says relative to basketball, that’s not hate. It’s entertainment, the same business that James is in.
It’s not all confined to LeBron. I read on ESPN where no less than basketball authority Spike Lee wants to pack the bags of Knicks’ GM Phil Jackson for remarks unbecoming about Carmelo Anthony. But I watched the Knicks lose the other night, and concerning Jackson’s remarks…it wasn’t hate. Anthony doesn’t play a lick of defense.
In fact I’m not sure there’s as much actual hate going around as the press, and the protestors, and the public at large is led to believe.
I think there’s some selfishness (another wonderful human emotion). I think there’s a sense of entitlement (something long in the making). And I think there’s more than a little bit of childishness in all of us – when you don’t get your own way.
Look, self-importance does have its place, in the context of paying your own bills, taking care of your own house, and securing your own future.
But just remember. Someone else is not a ‘hater”… just because they’re not impressed.