LeBron James has done just about everything he can to tear down his own empire. Whether it was broadcasting his personal “me fest” on national television, which became known simply as “The Decision,” or arguing with Kendrick Perkins on Twitter, James seems to have mastered the art of making himself look bad.
His continuous lack of character has landed him in the sixth spot on Forbes magazine’s list of most-disliked athletes, placing behind fellow NBA player Kris Humphries and ahead of rival superstar Kobe Bryant.
James is not a criminal, which would typically keep him in different circles than Plaxico Burress and Michael Vick, both of whom spent time in jail in recent years and re-established their NFL careers upon release.
He’s not known as a dirty player, which landed Ndamukong Suh on Forbes’ list after he stomped on an opponent on national TV.
He’s not an exposed womanizer trying to appear as a family man like Tiger Woods.
No, James is on that list because he is continuously clueless about how to interact with fans, teammates and opponents. His inability to shut up on Twitter, his in-your-face manner in which he left Cleveland and his hometown to “take his talents to South Beach,” and his lack of ability to lead the way to an NBA championship don’t help either.
If James would stop talking and start winning when it matters, he could possibly be one of the most liked and inspirational athletes.
Until that happens, he will remain the king without a ring and, ultimately, a loser.
Adam Earnheardt, a professor of communications at Youngstown State University, said James’ use of Twitter over the years has affected him positively and negatively.
“He may use social media to control his own image, but his messages can come back to haunt him,” Earnheardt said. “It’s up to him to use it effectively.”
James’ wising up doesn’t seem to be the trend on the horizon, though. In his most recent public embarrassment, he told ESPN’s Brian Windhorst that people blame him for everything.
“I’m an easy target. If someone wants to get a point across — just throw LeBron’s name in there,” James said. “You could be watching cartoons with your kids and you don’t like it, you say, ‘Blame it on LeBron.’ If you go to the grocery store and they don’t have the milk that you like, you just say, ‘It’s LeBron’s fault.'”
In Cleveland, fans are still looking to the ceiling at Quicken Loans Arena for an NBA Finals championship banner and saying, “It’s LeBron’s fault.”
In Miami, fans remember James’ performance in game four of the 2011 finals, when he posted the worst offensive playoff performance of his career in a three-point loss to the Dallas Mavericks and say, “Blame it on LeBron.”
If fans don’t remember James’ back-to-back poor performances that may have cost the Miami Heat a chance to win the series, it’s probably because James turned the attention to himself before he once again went home a loser at season’s end.
“At the end of the day, all the people that was rooting on me to fail, they have to wake up tomorrow and have the same life that they had before they woke up today,” James said. “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 to do with me and my family and be happy with that.”
In the same statement, James continued to belittle fans, saying they “have to get back to the real world at some point.”
Whether James knows it or not, his list of personal problems continues to grow larger as he continues to do the things he does.
He doesn’t have an NBA championship to his name, he has terrible speech and grammar skills, he has to live with rumors that former teammate Delonte West had sex with his mom, and according to Forbes, he is one of the most disliked athletes in sport.
Not a typical set of problems for a “king.”