LeBron’s on-court achievements are second to none, and save for The Decision back in 2010, he has done next to nothing to bring scandal to his life. For this reason, LeBron is held to the highest of standards and, at times, those standards border unfair and unrealistic. If he was seen at a restaurant giving a tip that was a dollar short of the desired amount, one can almost be sure that a series of character assassination attempts online would commence.
The man’s record is not spotless, of course. Many recall that after becoming the first team to come back from a 3-1 deficit in the finals against the Golden State Warriors in 2016, LeBron took to his show The Shop to proclaim that he was the GOAT in his own mind. Moments like these are partly why LeBron receives so much hate online, but studies show that he faces far more of it than any other athlete on the planet.
According to a study by Pickwise, a U.S.-based betting site, LeBron James was mentioned in 122,568 abusive messages online in the past 12 months. This number may seem small compared to the number of followers he has across all social media platforms. Still, it is worth noting that second on the list is Marcus Rashford from Manchester United in the English Premier League with only 32,328, followed by Tom Brady and Kevin Durant. It’s not even close.
Another surprise is that Golden State Warriors superstar Stephen Curry is number nine on the list, but with only less than 10% of the abusive messages thrown at LeBron online. How can someone hate Steph Curry? The guy has been the darling of the league since 2015, yet he still ended up on this infamous list.
There is a saying that goes, “any press is good press,” but in the age of social media and roaring public opinion, does this still hold? Well, reports from multiple sources earlier this week that LeBron stands to become a billionaire by the end of 2021. He does have one of the largest contracts in the NBA, but most of his money comes from endorsement deals, business ventures, and other opportunities that emanate from his persona. It seems that despite all the hate, LeBron James is still someone you want to be associated with your brand or organization.
The Lakers were eliminated from the Playoffs much earlier than expected this year, so no wonder the hate is piling on. With Anthony Davis by his side, the basketball world expects nothing less than a championship from LeBron every year, and this year they fell short due to injuries and a lack of focus in Round 1. LeBron and the Lakers will make changes in the offseason and come back as favorites to win next year’s NBA championship.
A win next year would give him 5 rings with three different franchises and possibly five Finals MVP awards. We all know that even he wins two more rings and ends with a total of seven, the same amount of hate for James will exist. For LeBron, however, how he responds next year will dictate whether or not he can become the undisputed GOAT in basketball. Whether or not that is important to him is something we do not know, but he continues to prove the haters wrong with every historic season he puts together, championship rin or not.
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