Jan 7, 2011, 1:15 PM EDT
Every time he steps on the court in a road arena, LeBron James hears boos. That was to be expected in Cleveland. Everyone knew it was coming in cities such as New York where the fans wanted him and he chose to take his talents elsewhere.
But it has become more than that — James is hearing boos in every stop. He’s hearing them in restaurants. He’s hearing it from fans of teams that had no shot and didn’t even go after him. He has become a villain to many.
NBA Commissioner David Stern told Jason Whitlock of Fox Sports he’s no fan of those boos.
I don’t like it. I think that it’s theater. I don’t think he’s really viewed as a villain. I think people love to either love or boo the Yankees. You either loved or booed Kobe and the Lakers. People used to love or hate the old Celtics. I think it will morph into the Heat being one of our really elite teams. And people boo the elite teams when they come into town to beat up on the hometown team….
I don’t mind it if he’s booed in the context of the dominant team he’s playing for. I think that I’m not sure people know exactly what they’re booing. Are they booing because he left Cleveland? Certainly they’re doing that in Cleveland. Are they booing him because it took 18 minutes for “The Decision” to say where he was going? Yeah, probably. Are they booing him because he’s part of a team that people think is too strong for their home team to compete with? Probably more so. And that will fade, and then they’ll boo him because he’s a member of the high-performing Miami Heat.
As soon as I saw that commentary, I said, “This young man is going to wish he hadn’t raised the subject,” and I felt badly for him.
Stern goes on to define the talk of contraction not really as an issue of talent — with 85 foreign-born players in the league the depth is there for the current 30 teams — but rather a matter of economics. Can teams survive in some of the league’s smaller markets, and how much money should the larger market teams pay in revenue sharing to keep those teams afloat? That is an issue for the owners to hash out, but it is directly tied to the Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations as well.
Maybe if we could boo the CBA negotiations, that is something Stern would be okay with.
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