As the early returns come in – we were most impressed by the recent ESPN poll which showed 57 percent of the public was feeling anti-LBJ — it appears that in the breathtaking space of less than 12 hours LeBron James went from the most popular athlete in American sports to the most despised.
Not that he doesn’t deserve it for the self-aggrandizing manner in which he announced his decision, but we’d like to see what those poll results would look like if one excluded the New York, Cleveland and Chicago areas. Surely much of the New York reaction is a case of sour grapes.
The headline of today’s Daily News, for instance: “Hey, We’re New York, The Greatest City in the World, so …Who Cares!” Well, you guys must have, since you’ve been running stories all week telling LeBron why he should come here.
Harvey Araton in today’s New York Times proclaimed “The birth of an Evil Empire — The Yankees of professional basketball — with that slick-haired hombre, Pat Riley, at the helm.” Come one, Harvey, don’t you wish Pat Riley was at the helm of the Knicks right now? And shouldn’t we wait for the Miami Heat to actually win something before calling them an ’empire’? At least the Yankees have earned that title.
As for Cleveland fans, we’re 100 percent in sympathy with them. But someone really should have edited Cleveland Cavalier owner Dan Gilbert’s statement a bit. “Narcissistic, self-promotional” buildup is just fine, but no one who owns a professional sports team has the right to accuse a player of “disloyalty.” Gilbert and every other owner has routinely cut players from a roster when they cease to be productive or traded them any time they thought it was in their interest to do so. All players are meat, and Gilbert knows it. The only difference between LeBron and the rest is that LBJ was choicer cut.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 9, 2010