LeBron’s Press Conference – Whaaaaaaa?
The Mavericks sent the Heat packing Sunday night and won their first NBA Championship. There's a lot there to break down. But I choose to focus on what happened after the game; when "King" James took to the podium and firmly planted his foot square in his mouth (This is the second edition of my will be running column "Whaaaa?" To check out the first, click here).
Ever since "The Decision," LeBron James has been pegged the villain. And rightfully so. I mean, I guess we shouldn't have expected anything different from someone who proclaimed himself "King," but we did, and ever since last July's loathsome display of vanity, things haven't gotten better for James. He has said head some head scratching things all season, including an ill advised Nike commercial in which he answered his critics in about the most petulant, crybaby way possible.
It's an almost tragic downfall for a guy who was one of the most loved athletes in the U.S. I wanted so hard to root for LeBron. Even this year I was much less down on him than a lot of people out there, because I was such a fan when he was a Cavalier. He seemed an extraordinary talent who also had charisma, charm and class. Well. I called that race a little early.
Sunday night James took to the mic following another timid fourth quarter performance and spewed out a message to his haters. That message?
“All the people that were rooting me on to fail, at the end of the day they have to wake up tomorrow and have the same life they had before. They have the same personal problems they had today. I’m going to continue to live the way I want to live and continue to do the things that I want with me and my family and be happy with that.”
Seriously, dude? Seriously? That's where you're going with it? You're going to go with: "Hey, I'm rich, my life style is great, you're not, so forget you." That's what's up? You know what, I may be over blowing this, and this may just strike a nerve with me and I'm definitely going to go on a rant here, but how dare you?!
Yes, you're blessed. You're a physical freak who's got incredible skills, but since when does that mean you can't be gracious. It's not our fault that you played the worst basketball of your career in the biggest games of your career. You choked. You choked so hard somebody needed to give you the Heimlich. And not only did you choke, you ran away from the moment. How many shots did you pass up in the fourth quarter, "King?" How many times did you forget to show up in the fourth quarter of the NBA FINALS?! It's not our fault that you lowered your scoring average by not one, not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, not seven (to quote the Heat pep rally), but 8.9 points from the regular season to the finals. It's not our fault that you made seven shots from the field in six fourth quarters of this series. It's not. Our. Fault.
But you're right, you're a billionaire - and congratulations for it. You've showed tremendous talent and tremendous business savvy to get where you are right now. But that doesn't change the fact that you vanished this series. And making the comments you did makes you seem like the cool kid in middle school who loses an argument and goes "Yeah? ...Well, I have a girlfriend!" "You rooted against me? Well, I've got a billion dollars and you're poor." These are the types of comments that have turned you into a villain. Because comments like that make you seem like nothing more than a shallow, sanctimonious jerk.
Which is sad. Because I don't think you are a jerk (though naming yourself "King" is kind of sanctimonious), and I'm not even sure your comments were meant to be taken this way. I hope you meant to say that the season is over and so those people will have to find something else to do with their time. And with any hope you come back from the offseason and do a complete turn around with the media, because you were such a great and likable figure just a year ago. But bottom line, what you said is inexcusable. To answer your critics by throwing your money in the face of those less fortunate is not only remarkably ill-advised, but is maliciously vile. It's the type of nauseatingly smug comment that turns people off.
So LeBron James, for proving once again that first class talent does not necessarily guarantee first class behavior, you've made me say: