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Introducing the LeBron James Hate Index

Sep 16, 2010, 10:15 AM EST

When LeBron James was revealed as the sixth most reviled athlete in sports this week, it was a startling reminder of just how far he’s fallen. When an athlete makes a decision (as opposed to “The Decision”), the backlash is usually introduced as isolated pockets. How Boston feels about Roger Clemens, for example. Or how animal lovers feel about Michael Vick (unfortunately, there are a lot of us animal lovers out there, though that number seems to be plummeting in Philly lately).

But James tapped into something at the moral center of our cultural Tootsie Roll, and it’s left him as one of the more ill-considered people in all of athletic competition. This despite him having broken no laws, nor skirted the edge of what we consider moral behavior in our society (outside of our traditional value of loyalty, often which we bend in protection of a perceived self-interest).

Quite simply, dude screwed up.

And so it is with that in mind that ProBasketballTalk.com introduces The LeBron Hate Index, a measure designed to track exactly how much people hate the best player in the NBA (see what I did there? Just by giving him that title I’ve increased his basketball purist hate by another five degrees). It’s important for posterity that we note James’ career arc through the lens of popular opinion, so that somewhere, way down the line, we can get a feel for how distaste of him has grown or dwindled as his championship aspirations are either fulfilled or dropped into the void.

Lebron James HateIndex 1y.jpgA Quick Legend:
1 (Blue)= “It’s all good, LeBron! Do what you got to, young fella!”
2 (Blue-Yellow)= “You’re more like elevator music. I can handle you, but only ten seconds.”
3 (Yellow)= “I don’t wish you ill, but I do laugh at your misfortune.”
4 (Yellow-Red)= “Peace? I hate the word. As I hate hell, Hugh Jackman, and thee.”
5 (Red)= “I’m not saying you are Satan, I’m just saying we should run some tests. As long as I don’t have to touch you and it involves a lot of pain for you.”
6 (Unofficial, Very Edge Of Red)= “I live in Cleveland.”

You’ll notice our five points of reference, Cleveland, The Stilted, The General Public, Basketball Purists, and the ever-so-hypocritical, we the Media.

Cleveland is quite obvious, and you can expect his honker to stay right in that dark red for the foreseeable future.

The Stilted refers to those who James elected not to join this summer, after visits in consideration thereof. Those fans continue to speak ill of James, despite the fact that had he donned their brilliant colors, they’d be defending him just as Heat fans now do (and Heat fans would surely have joined their ranks had he taken his talents elsewhere).

The General Public refers to those outside of the basketball-obsessed world, the vast majority of that 13 million strong viewing public.

Basketball Purists relate to those who look back to a purer, simpler time. You know, the one when players didn’t leave their teams (mostly because the ownership power was so great as to negate that possibility and free agency was in its infancy), and players were more humble and had more respect for the game (as illustrated by their rampant drug use or creation of their own shoe brands).

And then, of course, there’s us. The media. You may recognize us by the bold, brash headlines about how James wants too much attention (“READ ALL ABOUT IT HERE”). You may also identify us by our cutesy terminology for James and his actions (or our cute nicknames: “See, we call him LeCon, because he conned everyone. And his name is LeBron. It rhymes, you see. I learned that in journalism school, right after ‘Blame Everyone Else For The Downfall Of Our Profession’ 101.”)

In our first edition, you’ll notice Cleveland holding strong in the “Hope You Burn In The Fiery Flames Of Hell” category. The Shunned have peeled off some since “The Decision” and have begun the heady process of talking themselves into believing they can legitimately compete against the Heat (recognizable by such phrases as “Carlos Boozer is really underrated” and “Anthony Randolph could revolutionize the (insert position here).”)

How about those purists? There’s a healthy, steady hate for James being ridden by these noble beasts, primarily as they watch Michael Jordan average X assists, while lauding Scottie Pippen for being one of the greatest players of his generation in a role entirely enveloped by supporting teammates.  The competition factor is the motor for these wanderers of ESPN Classic (just as they believe Satan is LeBron’s motor). After all, who would want to team up with your competitors when you can seek to destroy them in a vindictive and hyper-competitive manner that’s driven solely by vengeance and resentment rather than a quest to play the best basketball and live the best life you can?

The media? Oh, no, we’re not letting go of this cash cow. Do you realize how much money we’ve made off of the idea that LeBron James sucks? Do you know how many ad impressions we’ve garnered from the construct of talking about James bombarding the public with his life and image? We can’t let this thing go. It’s perfect! We get to dismiss, degrade, and make up cute nicknames for a 25-year-old for his immense ego while simultaneously racking up the accolades for our work talking about him. Hey, if we keep this up, we may even be able to get better jobs! Maybe in nicer locales, working with our friends! … Wait…

All this cheekery isn’t to suggest that James didn’t deserve all this. If he wanted to stay in everyone’s good graces, he should have stayed in Cleveland, watching Mo Williams chuck 15 footers while Kevin Garnett drains hook shot after hook shot over Antawn Jamison. Again, it may seem absurd, but that’s the fact, LeJack (“See? I did it again! It’s genius!”). James gets to live in a beautiful place, with beautiful people, playing alongside two of his best friends who are also two of the best players in the game, make more money, and compete for a championship. The dude doesn’t exactly have it rough. B

ut he’s got to pay the price for those privileges, and his price is the public’s bounty on his head. You make decisions, and you live with them.

So there you have the first LeBron Hate Index. We’ll keep tabs on this all season long for you, to give you a sense of what the big picture of the reigning MVP’s basketball public image is. Rest assured, we in the media will continue to do what we do best. Tearing down those who want attention by calling for lots of attention. 

  1. Dan - Sep 16, 2010 at 10:41 AM

    “James gets to live in a beautiful place, with beautiful people, playing alongside two of his best friends who are also two of the best players in the game, make more money, and compete for a championship. The dude doesn’t exactly have it rough. But he’s got to pay the price for those privileges”
    He is not paying the price for that. And I for one am a Cleveland fan who no longer likes LBJ. Is he top 2-3 players in the NBA? Yes. Did he give us 7 years? Yes. Did he quit? Yes. More times in big games than people realize. All of this meant and still means little compared to how he left. So I correct you… he is not paying the price for what he wants to do. Everyone has the right to move on in life. He is paying the price for how he did it.

  2. Jacob - Sep 16, 2010 at 10:43 AM

    This site has covered how much people dislike Lebron more than the FIBA tournament and KD or any other actual news around the league. It’s gotten sooo old.
    I realize theres not much going on at this point in the year and that people flat out don’t like Lebron, his decision, his headband, or anything else James related – but really, it needs to be given a rest. It’s known, deal with it.
    This is about the 4th day in a row I’ve come here to see a Lebron/Hate posts.

  3. Vin - Sep 16, 2010 at 12:34 PM

    Right now, in a sense, LBJ took a “business approach”. Not so much for the money, but to win a championship. Like many of you, I wish he had stayed in Cleveland. Nonetheless, he left because he wants to win a championship and he really can’t be faulted for that.
    Many might revile him for years to come. However, keepo in mind what might happen in a decade or so:
    Even if LBJ wins multiple chamionships with one team, if he doesn’t retire and his talents fade, that team will cut him and maybe no other team will sign him. Why, because, to the NBA owners, it’s just a business decision. Where’s the loyalty? Maybe that’s justice….
    The great ones don’t always win championships – ask Ernie Banks or Ted Williams – but they are remembered for what they did, and that includes loyalty.

  4. King James - Sep 16, 2010 at 1:21 PM

    There is no loyalty in sports but players can switch teams with class. This was “THE” best free agent pool ever in the NBA and when you factor in all the great players in this pool what made James so special?
    The media played the biggest part in making him the egomaniac that he is today. When the New York press is kissing his ass and then the other cities followed suit the beast was created. It’s the media’s Frankenstein, created by the media and now the media is an angry mob holding microphones in one hand and torches in the other ready to slay their creation without actually taking credit for creating him.
    This is not a defense of the way he handled himself and I am sure there is a little resentment from players over the way he handled things. From Gilbert to Cuban we already know how owners feel and down there in the city of Orlando there is one head coach that will speak his mind about it.
    James is a kid and never really got the chance to become an adult. He went straight from high school to pro basketball. He is making his living playing a game and the kid in him was never let go. This is why spoiled brat and punk have become popular terms used when describing him. He’s Richie Rich, a kid with more money than most. The question is, how do you market him moving forward or do businesses stay as far away from him as possible?
    I have been a Cleveland sports fan for 35 years, since I was 10, and I have seen it all from blown opportunities to one of the most popular NFL franchises being allowed to leave town. There is a lot I will put before James’ handling of the 2010 NBA free agency. The aforementioned Browns leaving town. The Drive and The Fumble in AFC championship games. Mesa’s complete meltdown in the World Series. The Cav’s inability to win a championship with one of the greatest players in the league. Listening to Jim Brown sound like a bitter old man rates higher than LeJames.
    I am still a Cleveland fan and I hate James the way I do Kobe, they are the enemy playing against my home team. Nothing more.

  5. william deely - Sep 16, 2010 at 1:27 PM

    give me a break he quit in the boston series he did not care anymore about winning in cleveland. make sure i love myself lebron takes off that loyalty tatoo on his wrist. he has stated he misses the fans booing him wait til dec. 2 in cleveland I love myself lebron never neard what he is going to hear in cleveland. there is a new shirt out with him on it and states quitness with his picture,

  6. General - Sep 16, 2010 at 1:44 PM

    So, LeBron makes probably more than 100 millions per year (salary + sponsors + ads etc) and we’re talking about much people hate him anonymously?

  7. Tina - Sep 16, 2010 at 3:10 PM

    Hate him or love him… I’m sure he’s losing no sleep! LeBron regardless of how people feel is still a very good basketball player and will continue to make millions. Hopefully he takes all this negative crap and uses it as motivation to tell everyone to kiss his ass. All those teams wanted him… so had he chosen Chicago instead of Miami what would yall be saying then? It was his right to go where he wanted and his right to do it however he wanted to do it. Who cares if people hate him.. I bet they will still be watching him play! This is old & tired. The man is playing for the HEAT get over it damn!!!!

  8. ScottieDoesn'tKnow - Sep 16, 2010 at 3:50 PM

    Bron-Bron is something I wouldn’t even bother to scrape off the bottom of my shoe.I would just keep walking on it until it wears away.

  9. Bruce Klutchko - Sep 16, 2010 at 4:08 PM

    Matt,
    I agree in general with what you said. But your use of the word “stilted” just doesn’t work. It means pompous, lofty, formal, or stiff. There were also some grammatical errors. Do you need an editor? Will work for tickets.

  10. tbs - Sep 16, 2010 at 4:24 PM

    Just because Lebron calls himself “The Chosen One,” “King James” and the “Leader of the Olympic Team,” and guarantees titles before he wins them and holds one-hour TV specials to celebrate his greatness doesn’t mean he’s a narcissistic attention hound.
    He’s just an overgrown kid who likes to celebrate with dance moves when he wins and to stomp off the court without shaking hands when he loses.
    Just leave Lebron alone! He just wants to take his talents to Souf Beach.

  11. Tra - Sep 16, 2010 at 5:06 PM

    You say that he left to win a championship…wrong, he left the have a championship handed to him and there’s a difference. If he had wanted to win a championship, he would’ve stayed in Cleveland, they had winners there otherwise they wouldn’t have had the best regular season record for two years in a row, leading the NBA. He does want a ring but he knows that he is incapable of winning one without other people winning it for him. Granted he is talented basketball wise, but he’s proven that he can’t carry a team to a title by himself even with good players behind him. In other words, out of one of the three stooges in Miami, he will never by Moe. LOL. He’s a follower, not a leader.

  12. tmster211 - Sep 16, 2010 at 5:46 PM

    everyone knows who the star of the heat is..and always will be..its D. WADE…LBJ will never be ‘THE STAR’ as he was in cleveland..his BIG HEAD and BIG EGO is not going to like that!!!!

  13. Chris - Sep 16, 2010 at 8:42 PM

    Much of the problem is the media honks who can’t possible rush quickly enough to fellate LeQuit, over and over.
    Really now, PBT blogger douches, how does LeDouche’s cock taste?

  14. Omnius - Sep 17, 2010 at 9:19 AM

    LeBoring James has always been on my hate index at the very top ever since he joined the NBA as the annointed king of the media pundits. Sorry he’s just the most overhyped athlete around and has done nothing in his pro career to earn such accolades, but then the media morons don’t care about that. LeBoring James is the King of Choke and that’s no joke! Kobe Bryant is still the greatest player in the NBA and the Repeat World Champion Lakers will Threepeat in June!

  15. DigitL - Sep 17, 2010 at 12:56 PM

    PBT, thanks for your contributions to the society! I sure remember every day to check the index.

  16. Jeff - Sep 17, 2010 at 10:51 PM

    @ King James . . .
    I agree with most of the things you said but I’m shocked that a Cleveland fan is blaming the media for the hype leading up to “LeDecision.” Sure the media ate that shiat up, but let’s not forget Lebron flirted with the media all the time, long before he starting underachieving in the playoffs. I remember as far back as 2008, he would wear Yankees gear and throw the *hint hint* and *wink wink* about how much he loves New York blah blah blah… which is why I don’t blame Knicks fans for being crushed, dude openly flirted with whole cities, disrespecting his team and his franchise, but Barkley was the only one who called him out on it, everyone else just kind of glossed it over…..and REMEMBER, this was LONG BEFORE he quit twice in the playoffs after posting consecutive 60+ wins seasons. Had I been a Cavs fan, I would have stop loving the guy long before The Decision. Which is why I blame Lebron a helluva lot more than the media for creating a media hype monster.

  17. Sue - Sep 29, 2010 at 4:51 PM

    I’m from Cleveland. Can we please let it go already and move on?m

  18. Jimmy - Sep 30, 2010 at 4:47 PM

    It’s Tootsie Pop. Tootsie Rolls are the same throughout.
    Who cares about spoiled multimillionaire jocks anyhow.

  19. Jimmy - Sep 30, 2010 at 4:50 PM

    It’s Tootsie Pop. Tootsie Rolls are the same throughout.
    Who cares about spoiled multimillionaire jocks with tiny brains anyhow. Isn’t this distracting from bigger issues?

  20. MSD - Oct 6, 2010 at 3:38 PM

    Good article but you missed the fact some of the critism against James also makes no sense at all when put together.
    There are some that critisize James for having far too big an ego whilst at the some time critisizing him for not having enough ego to think he could win the championship without signing up to play with two other major stars.
    those two critisims simply don’t make sense when put together.
    And if James Ego was really that massive wouldn’t he be more like Kobe demanding to be the big star and chasing away any other player who might grab too much of the limelight away from him.
    James ego really can’t be that massive if he is willing to share the spotlight with another star player like wade , that is something that players with massive egos like Kobe Bryant would never be willing to do.

  21. MSD - Oct 6, 2010 at 3:40 PM

    Good article but you missed the fact some of the critism against James also makes no sense at all when put together.
    There are some that critisize James for having far too big an ego whilst at the some time critisizing him for not having enough ego to think he could win the championship without signing up to play with two other major stars.
    those two critisims simply don’t make sense when put together.
    And if James Ego was really that massive wouldn’t he be more like Kobe demanding to be the big star and chasing away any other player who might grab too much of the limelight away from him.
    James ego really can’t be that massive if he is willing to share the spotlight with another star player like wade , that is something that players with massive egos like Kobe Bryant would never be willing to do.

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