FT. WALTON BEACH, Fla. — A quiet training camp for LeBron James grew a bit edgy today, which is always the case whenever race is the subject.
In yet another example of how LeBron just can’t let go of the backlash he received this summer, LeBron answered “I think so, at times” when asked by CNN’s Soledad O’Brien if he thought race was behind the storm of criticism that followed him from Cleveland to Miami.
Well, you can imagine how this’ll go over with those who had beef with the man and his Decision. Just more ammunition for those looking to use it against a player who enjoyed a generous amount of respect, for the most part, prior to 2010.
LeBron is stretching it when he says race played a factor. And anyone who says race is never a factor is stretching it, too. Basically, we have no idea what’s in the hearts of those who complain about black athletes. We all have our suspicions, one way or another. But we don’t know. Is there something sinister behind the anger? Maybe among some people. Maybe not among others.
There’s a bigger issue, which LeBron and other athletes never grasp. It’s about love. The love they get from the public is purely conditional, that condition being as long as the athlete performs well, stays humble and follows a level of acceptable conduct, he will be “loved.” The problem is many athletes, LeBron included, mistake this for real love, and when it stops gushing, as it did for LeBron this summer, they feel offended and betrayed and get defensive.
It’s probably best they don’t fall so hard for conditional love in the first place.
LeBron evidently is still having a rough time coping with or understanding why he went from wearing a halo to wearing horns. This week, he’s been cooperative but often curt in media sessions. He tweeted about having an enemy list and seems to have adopted a me-against-them mentality. And none of this will serve him well in the short run, or long run.
My advice for LeBron? Don’t cite race anymore, unless you can give examples or prove you possess the power to look into someone’s soul, because the (white) fans doesn’t want to hear it. Also, let go of the summer. Lighten up. And show some humility, which often goes a lot further with the public than wins.
That’s if you care about what people are saying, if you still buy blindly into conditional love. Which I suspect he does.