As a Cleveland fan, I’ll admit I was ecstatic to see the Miami Heat lose to the Boston Celtics in their first game of the 2010-11 National Basketball Association season.
But as much as I enjoyed seeing the Heat struggle, I’m appalled by the recent string of hate directed at recent Heat acquisition LeBron James.
I was devastated when James announced on live television that he would be “taking his talents to South Beach.” I felt betrayed after watching James promote his choice of teams in ESPN’s one-hour special, “The Decision,” and witnessing the media circus that ensued.
But that does not excuse hateful and threatening messages.
James, via his Twitter account @KingJames, renamed Oct. 19 “Hater Day,” and he began retweeting hateful—and at points downright racist—tweets directed at his account.
“Today is Hater Day,” he wrote. “Everyone please let them get their 2 mins of fame and light! I Love You Haters. Continue to make me proud of u guys! LOL.”
One read “U r a big nosed big lipped bug eyed [racial slur]. Ur greedy, u try to hide ur ghettoness.”
Another praised James’ talent but then said, “too bad you’re a fraud.”
A third read “no one wants to hear u speak. Why dont u speak by laying ur head under a moving car.”
When I saw Cleveland fans burning James jerseys and paraphernalia in the streets of the city, I never imagined it would evolve into direct hate towards James.
He answered the criticism in an Oct. 21 article on espn.com.
“I just want you guys to see it also,” James said. “To see what type of words that are said toward me and towards us as professional athletes.
“Everybody thinks it is a bed of roses and it’s not.”
After retweeting the racist tweet, James drew media attention about the barrage of hate tweets with articles and blogs coming from USA Today, The New York Times, The Boston Globe and The Miami Herald, among others.
“Hater Day” has come and gone but a new Nike commercial featuring the NBA star has caused a new commotion.
In the commercial, James asks the viewer “What should I do?”
The video montage shows James in various situations asking, among other things, “Should I accept my role as a villain?” and “Should I be what you want me to be?”
The commercial spawned more hateful tweets, with one sent to James saying, “to answer ur question from your commercial, you should go kill yourself.”
It also drew criticism from the media.
Jerry Greene wrote in an Oct. 31 article on espn.com, “Doesn’t LeBron James seem a little, you know, desperate?”
Syndicated radio host Jim Rome said, “You’ve probably seen LeBron James’ new, ‘What should I do?’ Nike spot. You probably liked it and bought it. I don’t.
“And to answer the question, what should you do: you should have just apologized for the decision and for jamming Cleveland as hard as you did.
“It would have saved you a ton of abuse and Nike a lot of time and money producing and running this spot.
“Then again, in order to apologize, usually, you have to be sorry and you’re not, or you wouldn’t have told Cleveland, just last week, that they need to just get over it.”
There’s no doubt in my eyes that James has acted selfishly and immaturely since July when he made his decision, but I’m sick and tired of hearing about it.
You can dislike an athlete, or even hate them, but that does not mean you can send hateful messages to them.
I may not like James anymore, but I hate that people can treat an athlete they’ve never met the way some people have treated him.