On LeBron James and Sports Hate

LeBron Crybaby T-ShirtThis might be the most obvious post I ever write.  Then again, I think it might be time to really talk about this a little bit.  With all the problems that the Wizards have today with Gilbert Arenas and the fact that their “big three” of Arenas, Jamison and Butler have failed to materialize as a force to be reckoned with in the NBA, there seems to be a lot of sniping at LeBron James.  Yes, there is a history between the teams in the playoffs and the situation with LeBron and DeShawn Stevenson.  Some of the reason that the Wizards never got over the hump is because LeBron is just that good.  Then again, I don’t think we ever truly saw this Wizards roster at its best due to injuries.  Regardless, what ends up being tangible out of the whole situation in the NBA is the hate directed at LeBron James, and it isn’t just from Wizards fans.  I think it is worth exploring a bit, because as Cleveland fans, we know a lot about sports hate.

Sports hate isn’t truly hate, for the record.  When I say I hate someone in the sports world it isn’t meant to be as ugly as if I hated my neighbor who I know and could potentially interact with.  So let’s get that out of the way first.  I can’t stand Braylon Edwards, but if he was trapped under a wrecked car, I would certainly do everything I could to try and help him.  In that respect sports hate is far from real hate in my opinion.

That being said, as a Cleveland fan, I know all about sports hate.  I hate Bill Belichick because he cut Bernie Kosar, was around when the Browns moved to Baltimore and then inexplicably became the greatest coach of the last decade.  I hate Michael Jordan because he single-handedly ruined the championship chances for the best Cavs teams in franchise history up until the LeBron era.

If you look at both those scenarios though one of the common elements of sports hate is jealousy or resentment of success.  Even this weekend with the Superbowl, I am sure a lot of people out there will be rooting for the Saints in part because they think Peyton Manning is over-exposed or they hate him.  Let me be the first to tell you though.  I hate Ben Roethlisberger because he plays for the Steelers.  I have even argued in the past that I think he might be a bit overrated.  Guess who I would love and defend “Big Ben” to the last inch if he played for the Browns?  That’s right.  Ben Roethlisberger.

There have even been players that are really really great that I have said I wouldn’t want on my team even if they are the greatest ever.  Ray Lewis is a name that comes to mind.  At various times I might have actually said that I wouldn’t want Ray Lewis on the Browns.  That is the second portion of sports hate.  Irrationality is a key component.

As I said in the opening paragraph, this might be the most obvious thing I ever write.  The bottom line is this.  Anyone who says they hate LeBron James isn’t necessarily lying, but they are definitely irrational and probably somewhat resentful and jealous.  It is a fact.  Take it from someone who has sniped at Kobe Bryant in the past.  I probably even sniped at Shaquille O’Neal in the past.  Now he could be a key component to a championship should the Cavaliers find a way to do it this year.

So as Cleveland fans when we are out on the blogs, or reading twitter we should probably remind ourselves that, for the time being at least, we have one of those guys that is going to be the target of massive amounts of sports hate.  We shouldn’t take it too seriously because all those people that say they hate LeBron would be his biggest supporter if he was on their team.  Even the Wizards fans might be heard defending the crab-dribble if he had pulled that maneuver in a Wizards uniform.  Well, maybe I went a little too far with that last one, but you get my point.

  • imnot12

    To D-train.
    I couldnt agree more with laker fans. There always an excuse now isnt there.

  • Scotty

    Did Papa Johns really sponsor those “crybabay” shirts?

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com Denny

    @ Scotty – it was a local Papa John’s in DC. Not a national campaign.

  • Scotty

    I figured as much, but thats still seems pretty short-sighted for a big company to act like that. Did they not expect their little cheap shot to be on national television?

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com Denny

    @ Scotty – (Life Hint: DC is good at being short-sighted sometimes)

  • deebo

    Jealous haters. This is my town, this is my team, this is Cleveland. Better to have hated then not to have not hated at all.

  • todd

    when has any team/player from cleveland ever deserved to be hated? as soon as we get a fist full of rings and start walking around like we should be granted championships ask me then.

  • MattyFos

    @ #4
    LOL, I had to read the comments. It was great. I would want to better my team with any and everything I could. I even want Braylon back on the Browns b/c our receivers aren’t worth their weight in turd pants. I can hate a player on another team and justify that hate (Santonio Holmes beating his girlfriend like a drum, or James Harrison being a complete thug and stepping on Ricky Williams in 2008 injuring him for the season) I will justify my dislike for the players or coaches. I’m known for saying. While cowher was still coaching I HATED HIM, now that he retired I can admit he’s on of the best. Same with the Bus. I would talk badly about him, then after he retired I’d say He was a great player and a great person in general.
    These Wiz fans can’t swallow their pride for a second and say that they would embrace LBJ is absolutely absurd.
    These tools would line up at the mall trying to be the first to grab an LBJ jersey. They would stop calling him Princess James… It amazes me that they have justified their hate for him so much, that they can’t take off their blinders and accept the greatness of LBJ

  • D-Train

    if i remember correctly, papa johns made some kind of an apology for the t shirts by offering a free pizza (or something like that) in a handful of cleveland locations for a day.

    i don’t really care, as a cavs fan, i love it though.

    when someone hates your guy, or your team, you’re more than likely doing pretty good.

    last i checked nobody really hates the browns or indians.

  • E

    I usually love this site, but isn’t this ground that even Simmons covered a few months back?


    Don’t kid yourself. I moved to the DC area a few years ago, and believe me, fans of the Wiz would be wetting themselves if the King held court in the “Witness” Center.

  • Sean MacNair

    “Sports hatred isn’t really hate.” Yeah, tell that to the guys who chased the Lebron fan from the Indians game because he wore a Heat shirt. Sports hatred can be and often is irrational, crybaby-type, take-me-back-to-junior-high hatred.

    This entry is ironic on many levels.