LeBron James: Villain or Victim?

LeBron James Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
LeBron James
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

We’re three games into the 2015 NBA Finals and, much to the chagrin of LeBron haters and Warriors fans alike, the injury riddled Cavs are leading the series 2-1. While the die-hard (and I mean die-hard) would like to convey their team as simply better than Golden State, back on planet earth, the level-minded understand that without LeBron James , players like Michael Dellevadova and Triston Thompson are merely David Schimmer post “Friends,” non-relevant. Even still, through the first three games of his fifth consecutive title bout, James is averaging a mind boggling 41 ppg, 12 rpg, and 8.3 apg, we hear naysayers digging deep into their already shallow pool of reasons James is a sham with quips like “his efficiency from the floor is terrible.” Could those words be coming from the small brains of a (for lack of a better term) butt-hurt fan of a team James has stomped in the past? It not only could but most certainly is. However, for some strange reason, LeBron James has been deemed, simultaneously, the face and the villain of the NBA. And I don’t understand it. When you put him up against the likes of Michael Jordan, Allen Iverson, Kobe, and even Shaq O’Neal, LeBron is actually quite low on this “expert” likes to call the “Douchebag Scale.” Why is it that James, no matter what he does, will always come up short in the public eye? Is it that James is really a cocky, self righteous, arrogant, piece of shit? Or is he simply a victim of the TMZ culture we live in today?

Let’s compare LeBron and Michael Jordan for a second. Not the conventional on court comparison that has been dragged out to pasture and shot so many times its almost unrecognizable. Let’s look at their antics off the court. On one hand, you have Jordan who went out drinking, gambling and God knows what else the night before games. He was arrogant and cocky and, reportedly, didn’t get along with multiple team mates. Then you have LeBron who’s biggest career hiccup was the, now infamous, “decision.” Admittedly, I was probably the biggest critic of James for his half hour, live ESPN announcement to “take his talent to South Beach,” One I compared it to Jordan’s antics and attitude, I realized that if Twitter were around in 1993, Michael Jordan’s pedestal of greatness may be significantly shorter.

Shaq O’Neal, arguably the greatest Center the game’s ever seen and easily the most dominant. O’Neal had plenty of off the court antics. Cursing during live post game interviews, trash talking opponents on the podium. Yet we still view him as one of the greats. Imagine a world where LeBron uses profane language during interviews and openly belittles his opponent. Why is it we view the real LeBron as a tool this imaginary LeBron would be?

So what’s the verdict? Is James deserving of the villain title he’s been given? Or is he simply a victim of being the best player during an era of unbelievable scrutiny? One thing’s for sure, no matter how we view him, he’s going to dominate this league for the foreseeable future.