Every time he steps on the court in a road arena, LeBron James hears boos. That was to be expected in Cleveland. Everyone knew it was coming in cities such as New York where the fans wanted him and he chose to take his talents elsewhere.
But it has become more than that — James is hearing boos in every stop. He’s hearing them in restaurants. He’s hearing it from fans of teams that had no shot and didn’t even go after him. He has become a villain to many.
NBA Commissioner David Stern told Jason Whitlock of Fox Sports he’s no fan of those boos.
I don’t like it. I think that it’s theater. I don’t think he’s really viewed as a villain. I think people love to either love or boo the Yankees. You either loved or booed Kobe and the Lakers. People used to love or hate the old Celtics. I think it will morph into the Heat being one of our really elite teams. And people boo the elite teams when they come into town to beat up on the hometown team….
I don’t mind it if he’s booed in the context of the dominant team he’s playing for. I think that I’m not sure people know exactly what they’re booing. Are they booing because he left Cleveland? Certainly they’re doing that in Cleveland. Are they booing him because it took 18 minutes for “The Decision” to say where he was going? Yeah, probably. Are they booing him because he’s part of a team that people think is too strong for their home team to compete with? Probably more so. And that will fade, and then they’ll boo him because he’s a member of the high-performing Miami Heat.
In the wide-ranging interview, Stern also talked about LeBron’s comments on contraction, or the retraction of his comments on contraction, or whatever it is he wants us to think he said.
As soon as I saw that commentary, I said, “This young man is going to wish he hadn’t raised the subject,” and I felt badly for him.
Stern goes on to define the talk of contraction not really as an issue of talent — with 85 foreign-born players in the league the depth is there for the current 30 teams — but rather a matter of economics. Can teams survive in some of the league’s smaller markets, and how much money should the larger market teams pay in revenue sharing to keep those teams afloat? That is an issue for the owners to hash out, but it is directly tied to the Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations as well.
Maybe if we could boo the CBA negotiations, that is something Stern would be okay with.
Nobody is quite sure what will happen when Miami Heat forward LeBron James returns to Cleveland when the Cavaliers play the Heat. With Dan Gilbert’s letter, the anger about LeBron’s “Decision,” and all those burned jerseys, it certainly seems like things could get dicey when James returns to the Quicken Loans Arena.
A preview of that event might take place this weekend, when the #2 ranked Ohio State Buckeyes play the #12 ranked Miami Hurricanes at Ohio Stadium. James is a huge Ohio State fan, and stood on the sidelines when the Buckeyes played Penn State last season. More than a few of the 102,329 people expected to attend the game will likely have a bone to pick with James if he shows up on Saturday, but Terelle Pryor and Jim Tressel are both urging OSU fans to treat James with respect
With many fans still angry over LeBron James’ decision to leave Cleveland for the Miami Heat, Ohio State coach Jim Tressel is calling for calm.
James, who jilted the Cavaliers to jump to the Heat this summer, may attend Saturday’s game at Ohio Stadium between No. 12 Miami and second-ranked Ohio State.
Tressel said Thursday that it was time to let go all that anger.
“Sore subjects need to pass,” Tressel said at a news conference. “Things are as they are. We all make decisions. You have to respect one another’s decisions and move on.”
On some message boards and college football sites, angry fans have said they do not want James coming to the game. Some have hinted at violence.
James communicates with Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor, who also urged fans to welcome the former Cavaliers guard.
“If LeBron does come, just treat him with respect and respect his decision,” Pryor said.
“Please, no name calling, or booing, or anything like that because that’s my mentor. I have a lot of respect and a lot of love for him.”
James, who grew up in Akron, did not play college basketball. But he has said that if he had not jumped directly to the NBA, he would have attended Ohio State.
“He’s a Buckeye,” Pryor said of James’ rooting interest in the game pitting the Buckeyes against the team from his new hometown, the Hurricanes.
Make no mistake: James is going to get booed if he shows up on Saturday. Pryor and Tressel’s urging might mitigate some of that, and hopefully it’ll decrease the chances of some sort of incident, but James is going to get booed.