Let's start with the facts. LeBron James is currently the best basketball player in the world. He is without question one of the most talented basketball players of all time. From a basketball perspective he is an incredible player to watch. There probably hasn't been another player in league history that is capable of doing all the things that he is able to do on the hardwood. With that said, don't tell me that I can't love basketball and hate LeBron James at the same time. Like it or not, in 2015 being a professional athlete is a 24/7 job. With the accessibility of media I spend just as much time watching LeBron talking as I do him playing. It's not just about how you perform for 3 hours a night. It's about what you say. It's about how you carry yourself. If that weren't the case Johnny Manziel would just be a 2nd year quarterback with a ton of potential instead of an NFL afterthought. There wouldn't have been any debate about who was the top quarterback in this year's draft. Hell, if being a great basketball player was just about what you did on the court then JR Smith would still be a Knick. The fact of the matter is your character matters just as much as your performance. Especially when we are talking about how you are perceived by the fans of a sport. I don't hate LeBron James because of his greatness on the basketball court. I hate him because who he is off the court makes him a difficult person to root on the floor.
Now I understand that I have no idea what it is like to be in the national spotlight starting from the formative age of 14. I have no idea what it is like to be the focal point of every athletic performance I have ever been a part of. However, there is a difference between performing and acting, and it increasingly seems like LeBron has been participating far more in the latter. With age is supposed to come growth, and LeBron's persona has simply devolved with time. LeBron James is absolutely a leader. He has absolutely battled through injuries. Those two things aren't debatable. Regardless, there is one aspect of being tough and being a leader that James has forgotten about. Leaders don't have to constantly talk being leaders. Tough players don't constantly have to talk about how tough they are. Let your play do the talking. Being tough doesn't allow you to crawl around on the ground like your leg is going to fall off in game 3 and be 100% healthy in game 4. I don't hate LeBron for what happens between the whistles. I hate that what he does after the whistle somehow overshadows that.
Five consecutive finals appearances is an accomplishment that deserves praise. However, being the best comes with expectations. If LeBron loses this year he will have won two of those five finals appearances, and two of six overall. That is a disappointment. From a player that has already been labeled one of the best to ever have played the game, we should expect more. Is that fair? Probably not. Are there circumstances surrounding that stat that may have made it more difficult for him? Of course. Focus the discussion. We are talking about someone who has the talent to be the best player to ever play the sport. The greatest of all time. Why on earth would those expectations be fair? In a sport where one player can make that much of a difference we expect the best to reign victorious. We don't want to hear about the times you got to the biggest stage. We want to hear about the times you SUCCEEDED on the biggest stage. The Buffalo Bills made it to 4 consecutive Super Bowls. That is a greater feat then making it to 5 straight NBA finals out of a porous Eastern Conference. We don't need talk about them never mind make excuses for them. They were an all time great team, but they didn't win. That's what people care about. You can't have it both ways. When LeBron wins it's because of him and when he doesn't it's because of everyone else? Do you realize how ass backwards that is? Could you imagine Tom Brady acting in such away? To be the best you don't have to win every single time, but you damn sure have to accept the responsibility when you don't. That's what great players do. That's what leaders do. You can't just embrace those qualities when it is convenient for you. I would love to love LeBron the basketball player, but LeBron James the person is a complete fraud.