LeBron James may be the most debated and polarizing athlete in the history of sports.
And, quite frankly, he’s brought it all on himself, constantly choosing to say and do things that invite all of the (warranted) criticism he receives.
Now he’s putting a target on his own back once again by admitting a former teammate recently hurt his feelings with a comment that never even mentioned LeBron.
At this point, there’s no denying that LeBron James is one of the most talented basketball players of all-time, even if he’s ridiculously unlikeable by virtually every measure.
Nevertheless, his undeniable ability on a basketball court is more often than not rightfully overshadowed by his antics off the court.
It’s his own fault, as LeBron constantly makes himself an easy target for criticism, while simultaneously being completely incapable of handling even the slightest perception that someone is critical of anything he does or says.
Case in point, in a recent interview, LeBron admitted that his feelings were hurt by a comment made by his former teammate, Kyrie Irving, over two months ago.
Back in late September and early October, Irving appeared on his Brooklyn Nets teammate Kevin Durant’s “The Etcs” podcast and talked about the fact that, before teaming up with Durant, he believed he was always the best option for his team when the game was on the line.
“I felt like I was the best option on every team I played for down the stretch,” Irving said. “This is the first time in my career I’ve looked down and be like, ‘That [expletive] can make that shot, too.’ And he’ll probably do it a lot easier.”
On the surface, it’s not a totally absurd comment for an elite athlete to make.
Any high-level athlete who doesn’t want to have the ball in their hands as the final seconds tick off the clock, and doesn’t believe they are the one that can get their team over the top, is simply always going to have a ceiling on their success.
But that innocuous comment caught LeBron James’ attention, and though Kyrie never once mentioned him, or even came close to slyly directing the comment his way, LeBron took it as a slight.
Most of sport’s greats would have never let anyone know the comment had any effect on them, while secretly using it to fuel their internal fire, but that’s not who LeBron is – he’d rather let everyone know that his poor little feelings were hurt.
“Once I got the whole transcript, I was like, ‘damn,'” James said in an appearance on the ‘Road Trippin’ podcast with Richard Jefferson. “I wasn’t like, ‘oh you tripping, I’ve been hitting game-winning shots my whole life.’ I was not like that. I was like, ‘damn’…. And it kind of hurt me a little bit.”
How insecure does one have to be to hear Irving’s comment and immediately assume it’s a direct shot at you, and allow that to affect you in any way?
It’s quintessential LeBron James – take something that isn’t specifically about you and make it all about you, while proving to be possibly the most thin-skinned athlete to have ever lived.
Years from now, when people look back on James’ career, this specific situation won’t be mentioned.
Most people will likely forget this even happened within a few weeks or months.
But everyone will always remember that LeBron James loved to play the victim.
And that will always define his career more than anything he’ll ever accomplish on the basketball court.