Hate in sports, especially the American kind, is often a passing thing. Especially when it has no real grasp on actual occurrences The trend of wishing LeBron James all the worst is gone and forgotten, as the man everyone wanted to hate and see fail for about two years is the most popular in the NBA over the last six months according to the jersey sales numbers.
The NBA finals and the changing of the guard (leaving Kobe Bryant and the aging Celtics behind) certainly have had their effect on things, as LeBron James and Kevin Durant lead the list of the most popular jerseys among NBA fans. Kobe Bryant is third; Derrick Rose, not playing basketball for quite a while, is fifth. Jeremy Lin, the sensation of last season, now that he’s no longer in New York, has fallen out of the top 15.
But James is the interesting case study. It teaches a lot about what media hype, and especially the power of ESPN, can do to a man. ESPN broadcast ‘The Decision’. When they felt public opinion swaying against James after he decided to leave Cleveland, angering some false sense of loyalty people think NBA players should have, it turned into the ‘Hate LeBron’ campaign. It’s not just ESPN, but they’re the most powerful players in the market.
So many people were happy when he lost in the finals to the Dallas Mavericks. Why? I don’t think they remember. Something about his personality, which they don’t really know. The truth is? People don’t like loving a loser, a choker, especially one destined to be great and is obviously the best player in the NBA.
For some reason, choosing to play with friends and great players is worse than staying and playing for more money. Eventually, talent prevailed, and now not a lot of people remember why they hated LeBron James in the first place. It’s not about him acting or saying anything special. It was only about perception, and the moment the layer of the loser and big game choker came off and left behind for good, so did the fake animosity the hordes held for him went away.
Some players never lose it; some actually behave like douche-bags for their entire career. The popular choice for hating right now in the NBA is Russell Westbrook, because he simply isn’t passing the ball as much as people would like him to another very popular, the squeaky clean Kevin Durant. That’ll pass once the Thunder (if they) win an NBA title, and everyone starts praising Westbrook for the great player he is.
Because that’s the NBA – no real rivalries means no real hatred. Only false one, that disappears once a player starts winning and escaped the mold of the loser. Arrogance, past crimes, any fault and sin you can think of, is easily forgotten with a title ring or two. LeBron James was never really the most hated athlete in America. People were just told he is by the media, so they decided they should do it to. It took sometime, but everyone eventually came to their senses, and started buying James jerseys in loads. People want success printed on their back.