LeBron James is the current “King” of basketball. But is he really? He certainly has the talent but he doesn’t have the true love of fans. Not like the basketball royalty that came before him. For example, Michael Jordon is considered by some to be the best of all time. And even if you don’t think he was the all-time greatest player, you can’t deny that he has the love of fans way beyond Chicago. When it comes to basketball, he has captured the hearts of the nation and maybe even around the world. That’s why I decided to explore why MJ won over the fans but LeBron hasn’t been able to do so. Many, many fans either love him or hate him…A LOT and it goes beyond his balling on the hardwood. I don’t think he will ever feel the love of fans that MJ and others have experienced. And here are five of my reasons why.
#1. Sportsmanship: I believe MJ commands respect but he also gives it back. He is a true sportsman on and off the court. And he makes you believe that the fans matter to him. LeBron cares about LeBron. He doesn’t seem to care whether the fans like him or not and he doesn’t seem to care much about the fans at all. And he is a sore loser. Remember when he lost his first title attempt, he said, “Now you can go back to your miserable lives and I’ll go back to mine.” Does that sound like a good sport to you? Or more recently, in Miami’s latest loss to the Spurs, “It’s only basketball.” Really, LeBron? Somehow, I think it would be a lot more than basketball if you actually won the title. LeBron could learn a lot from watching the interview clips of Michael Jordan, someone who did have international love, had good sportsmanship with opposing players and press and was respected at a national level. I’ve learned a lot by watching them and I think LeBron could do the same.
#2. Flying vs. Flopping: MJ was known for taking flight across to reach the basket. What is LeBron known for? Flopping! Flopping to try and get that extra call. Enough said.
#3. Results: My third reason for LeBron never being able to feel the love on a national level is simply because of the results. Starting with Michael Jordan, every time he went to the NBA Finals he won the championship. He was always able to close the deal and bring the title home. LeBron, however, has been to the championship 5 times and has won just 2 championships. Interestingly, the Spurs played him in 3 of the 5 series and he came out on top only once.
#4. Leadership: My fourth reason comes down to “Leadership”. How can LeBron claim leadership if he is not even the captain or assistant captain of his team? Dwayne Wade is the captain and Udonis Haslem is the assistant captain. When he was the “leader” of his team with the Cavaliers, he left (making a real show of it) to go to the Miami Heat where he believed he would win because of having two other stars by his side (Wade and Bosh). When he could have ruled the basketball world, he actually took a backseat to Dwyane Wade. Now, Michael Jordan was the leader, captain, and everything else for his team. They ended up winning a lot of games and he was the face of basketball. And he was loyal to the city of Chicago, its team and its fans. I believe that loyalty is worth mentioning because of the way LeBron left Cleveland without even telling them. Dropped them flat to improve his chances. Still, I don’t think it is about leaving the team but more about the way he chose to do it.
#5. Overall Likeability: My fifth and final reason comes down to the likability factor. Consider this: Everyone wanted “to be like Mike” but I don’t think you can say that about LeBron. He does not come across as authentic with his fans, it is more of a forced role that the people around him are encouraging. For example, in the commercials that LeBron has, it feels as if he is trying to be someone that he clearly is not. They try to make him relatable but it doesn’t seem to be real. He still stills to convey a separate better-than-you attitude. In one recent commercial, I thought it was funny that at the end, he leaves everyone behind the gate to go back to his mansion, which clearly separated him from the rest. In my opinion, Michael Jordan, on the other hand, was more authentic in his commercials and you felt like he was the person on the screen that he was not necessarily playing a role or different character. I mean he even made a kids movie, Space Jam, for the enjoyment of kids. He is a likeable guy that people want to be like. But, LeBron, heck no. LeBron loves LeBron, so who needs the hearts of fans?
These five reasons are why I think LeBron will never be truly loved from an international perspective. He’ll be known at that level but I can’t see him ever feeling the love. And that’s seems like an awful big opportunity to miss.
Tell me what you think about this. Do you think he can change his ways? Do you agree/disagree? I want to hear you in the comments section. Thanks for reading!
My name is Mike V. I am an enormous basketball fan. I also am a die-hard Knicks fan. After graduating 5th grade, I started writing this blog at the age of 10 in the summer of 2012.