Take to any social media website during an NBA Finals contest and one will discover LeBron James has to be the most hated person in the world.
You can find people making snide comments about his play, wondering why he isn’t scoring every time Miami has the ball. If it’s not about his abilities on the court, then they want to talk about James losing his headband in Game 6 and his receding hairline.
James’ ever growing group of online haters refuse to focus on what is important — he recorded his second triple-double, 32 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists, of the series Tuesday night. Or he scored 18 of those points in the fourth quarter and overtime to stave off elimination. Or he is averaging 23.3 points, 10.6 rebounds and 7.5 assists per game against San Antonio.
No, those things don’t matter.
It’s all about how bad of a person James is.
All because he made a business decision three years ago to leave his home state Cleveland Cavaliers and take his talents to South Beach to chase an NBA championship.
In his 10 seasons in the NBA, James rarely made mistakes, but having ESPN televise your selection during free agency was definitely one of them. And in the weeks following his televised choice to join Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade on the Miami Heat, James took a another misstep, just like a Manu Ginobili drive to the basket.
The trio were center stage for a championship-style celebration, attended by thousands, before they had even stepped onto the floor at AmericanAirlines Arena and won a game.
After two very public airballs by James, it became easy to jump onto the bandwagon and dislike him. In the blink of eye, James went from fan favorite to not just Ohio’s, but the nation’s, Public Enemy No. 1 as his portrait in Cleveland was painted over and his Cavalier jersey served as bonfire material.
It is hard to understand all of this continued hatred over a player who has avoided the police blotter, willingly plays for the national team and spent Wednesday night preparing for the decisive Game 7 against the Spurs by watching television with his children.
Win or lose tonight, James has done more than enough to regain the support of everyone, except for those few Cavalier fans, wronged by “The Decision.”
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14, or by email at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @scgolfer.