With great power comes great responsibility. Or in sports terms, with greatness comes criticism. The greatest athletes in the world have a massive number of fans, but at the same time, they also have a considerable number of so-called haters. The best basketball player of our generation, LeBron James, is a clear example of an athlete who may have even more haters than fans even though it is one of the biggest stars in the world.
The fact LeBron is vastly hated amongst the NBA fandom is a known fact, but now we actually have statistical data to back that down. A recent study using social media statistics to explore hashtags and direct keyword phrases about criticisms of particular players on various social media platforms revealed that LeBron James is the most hated player in the NBA.
James was proclaimed the most hated player in 24 states, putting him first, just ahead of his former teammate Kyrie Irving, who “won” in 18 states. The full breakdown looks like this:
LeBron James: 24 states
Kyrie Irving: 18 states
James Harden: 3 states
Kevin Durant: 3 states
Russell Westbrook: 1 state
Paul George: 1 state
This doesn’t really come off as a big surprise, as James was never the most loved player in the NBA. But after rubbing a lot of people wrong with his off-court statements, mixed with his diva personality on the court, even more people turned their back on “The King.”
Where do we even start? LeBron embraced the role of the villain when he left his Cavaliers for the first time to join the Miami Heat and form a “Big 3”. Then the on-court shenanigans like flopping and constant complaining to the refs started to become a regular occurrence, making him a very frustrating player to watch. But still, you had to tip your hat to him, as LeBron was dominating the Eastern Conference for the last decade. It boosted his confidence a bit too much, as he started to proclaim himself the GOAT after winning the 2016 championship. That didn’t sit very well with the NBA world, especially Michael Jordan fans.
To cap it all off, recently, he has become more vocal than ever about social and political issues. It is great to see him involved in valiant actions like “Black Lives Matter,” but he has shown a hypocritical side, showing he supports only the things important to him rather than a good cause. The China case is the most prominent example, showing how money is all that matters in the end. Even though James raved about doing his studies and “educating himself on the matters he spoke about,” LeBron embarrassed himself when he tried to call out an officer that saved the life of a young black girl by shooting another black girl wielding a knife at her.
Those off-court actions upset many fans and made them hate him more for that than his on-court play. But at the end of the day, he is one of the greatest players ever, no matter if you like his game or demeanor on the court. When it comes to the off-court stuff, LeBron can do whatever he wants, but he has to face the fact there will always be backlash no matter which side or causes you support. All that aside, we shouldn’t focus on the negative, but rather the good things he has done on and off the court.
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