There is a no bigger name in the NBA than LeBron James when it comes to superstardom, controversy, drama, glorification, and hatred. The face of basketball for the past 15 years has faced and endeavored everything in his long and illustrious career. LeBron has seen it all, from championships and love to unexplainable meltdowns and ridicule from the NBA fandom. Some are undeserved and harsh, but some are well justified, as “The King” was never shy of voicing his opinion and saying what’s on his mind despite all the backlash he could receive.
The fact LeBron is a 4x time champion with numerous individual accolades in his career has been overshadowed late in his career due to his off-court actions and statements. The constant seeking of approval by calling himself the GOAT and various political stances without LeBron willing to defend them apart in one-way social media posts gave ammunition to many critics of a man who already wasn’t the most loved face in the NBA.
But some of his most notorious haters are people you see every day on TV, living off the fact they criticize LeBron on a daily basis. Skip Bayless may be the most known hater in the sports world, but Jason Whitlock is doing what he can to take Skip’s place. Whitlock went on a rant on his show “Fearless,” talking about Team USA struggling at the Olympics and what wearing the blue, red, and white used to mean for players, referring to the 1992 “Dream Team”.
“American basketball is in a worse place than where LeBron found it. That’s what separates him from Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Julius Erving, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Bill Russell. LeBron dropped the basketball torch handed to him by the game’s greatest ambassadors…Thirty years ago, when Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, and Larry Bird led a Dream Team into the 1992 Olympics, there was talk that the NBA would rival the NFL…Magic, Air Jordan, Larry Legend, Sir Charles, The Admiral, The Mailman, The Glide, and Pip were household names and American superheroes. They barnstormed Barcelona, repped American exceptionalism, and made us all swell with pride. Now we swell with indifference.”Jason Whitlock, Fearless
Whitlock then dove deeply into LeBron and called him out for being the leader of the movement that encourages hatred towards your own country and flag. Whitlock believes that is the reason players don’t want to play for their nation or give it their all, as that is the reason why you can’t compare LeBron to the likes of Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, or Muhammad Ali.
“Post-playing career, LeBron is not going to age well. He ain’t gonna age like Ali, he ain’t gonna age like Magic, he won’t be beloved like them. Ali stood against the Vietnam War. Magic has battled AIDS with dignity. Ali and Magic fought something real and dangerous. Lebron? Well, he compared himself to Emmett Till’s mother after an unidentified bandit allegedly spray-painted the back gate on his $20-million mansion. Oh, and he pretended to be petrified of going outside… LeBron’s a real freedom fighter. He also won’t be exalted as a competitor and champion the way we revere Michael Jordan. Not by sports fans, at least.”Jason Whitlock, Fearless
Whitlock really went on full blast against LeBron, holding nothing back. He basically called him a muppet of the higher authorities, being used to send a message that the public will listen to. But it seems Whitlock and a lot of other NBA fans have had enough, as that narrative has left Team USA scrambling to assemble a roster capable of winning the gold medal. Is LeBron to blame for it? Absolutely not, as he himself had a good reason not to go, but the fact is LeBron played a significant role in how the rest of the NBA players and fans view the American flag nowadays. Those are simply the facts.