Blog Entry

LeBron James backtracks from 'superior' comments

Posted on: June 14, 2011 2:42 pm
Edited on: June 15, 2011 6:46 am
Posted by Matt Moore

On Sunday night after the Heat lost the NBA Finals in six games to the Dallas Mavericks, LeBron James took to the podium. In his postgame press conference, James admitted he failed in the Finals. Here's the quote. I was standing there. 

"Any time you feel like you get to the top of the mountain and you fall off, there's definitely a personal failure.  It was a failure in '07 when we lost to the Spurs when I was in Cleveland, it's a failure now for myself losing to the Mavericks.  Absolutely."

Now, he starts to veer off into "we failed" which can easily be taken as an abdication of blame. But that last sentence, "it's a failure now for myself losing to the Mavericks" is an admission. You're probably asking "He lost the NBA Finals because he played badly despite having the most talent and all that preseason preening. Of course he failed. So what?" Well, the so-what is that everyone walked away from James' presser thinking that not only did he not think he'd failed, but that he insulted the common man. That quote from above? Not talked about anywhere. Here's the one that was quoted everywhere, which Ken Berger roasted him for, the "money quote" of James' final postgame presser of 2011:

"Absolutely not. Because at the end of the day, all the people that was rooting on me to fail, at the end of the day they have to wake up tomorrow and have the same life that they had before they woke up today. They have the same personal problems they had today. I'm going to continue to live the way I want to live and continue to do the things that I want to do with me and my family and be happy with that.

They can get a few days or a few months or whatever the case may be on being happy about not only myself, but the Miami Heat not accomplishing their goal, but they have to get back to the real world at some point."

Here's how that read to people. "My life is awesome and you can hate on me all you want but tomorrow I wake up in my mansion as the best basketball player in the world and you still have to hump it to your day job." Then probably some expletives. That's how it came off. On Tuesday at the Heat's final media availability of the year, James tried to explain, or backtrack, depending on your level of hatred for the man, his comments. From ESPN:

"It was interpreted different than what I wanted...Everyone has to move on with their lives and I do too. I wasn't saying I'm superior to anyone else."

How can he possibly say that? He says right in that quote that he's better than everyone else! Just go back and read it!


Oh, wait, no he didn't. 

I took the original comment as basically saying "If you're going to spend your life taking joy out of other people's failures, that's pretty sad. And it doesn't change the fact that both of us have to get up tomorrow and I can't live my life based on what other people think." That's how I interpreted it. I'll pause and let you comment at the bottom of this post about how I'm a LeBron-lover and how I "sniff LeBron's jock" and the other bazillion things that are said anytime someone doesn't pile on top of James. How could I possibly not think LeBron James is arrogant?

Here's a secret. I do.

I am not Ken Berger, who has spoken with hundreds of NBA players. I've never had, nor will I ever have a one-on-one interview with LeBron James. I don't know how he treats his girlfriend, his kids, his family, his friends. I have what I've read about, what I've seen on television, and the handful of encounters that I've shared with him. And in my estimation, James is the most arrogant player I've ever come across. It's in everything, from how he puts his gear out in a 10-foot radius pregame, to how he treats ball boys, to his postgame comments, to "The Decision" and everything in between. And unlike a lot of people, I don't think you need to be arrogant to be great. There have been humble superstars. Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, the two players James is most often compared to, do not fit in that category, but there have been truly humble legends in this game. James' behavior reflects a childish self-centered outlook on life, the product of being worshipped since you were 13 and having no one to get into your face and tell you not to believe everything everyone tells you about how great you are. 

But am I going to destroy James for trying to clarify his comments on Tuesday? No. Because I'm going to take each word and action James makes with the same level of consideration. His past actions and comments play a part in my perception of him, but I'm not going to wholly abandon my capacity for reason, compassion, or respect just because James "asked for it." Because that's not going to do anyone any good. The obsessive hatred America has taken on for James, who has never once been arrested, charged, or faced allegations for a morally reprehensible act by the standards of our society, is something which has grown into its own beast. People that hate him say they blame the media for hoisting him up when if you look around, every site is capitalizing on the money to be made in crushing James. And he deserves to be crushed for his play in the final five games of the Finals, for the celebration in preseason which did not net a championshp, for his attitude which is offensive. But there's a limit. There's a degree, and we've long since past it. 

No one's going to talk about this quote from James at Tuesday's presser: 

"I'm not satisfied with my performance." 

To talk about that would be to say James said what he should say. Yes, it's assumed he should say that and I'm not claiming that he deserves a cookie for doing the right thing (HT: Chris Rock). But the perception is that James never says the right thing, and when he says something which is interpretable, like the superiority comments, it's automatically taken the worst way possible. We've reached a point where people clamor over one another to try and stab him with comments and vitriol. It's sport, regardless of the facts involved. Forget for a moment whether James deserves this specifically. Is anyone really worth this much time and energy in destroying? Is there any reason to pump this much disgust and disdain for someone who at no point has been accused of anything worse than "being a total jerk-face?" There are plenty of jerk-faces in life. Why is this the guy that's worth devoting hours of our lives to annihilating? You think the media feeds it? I'll tell you again, try checking the stats. James and Heat hate is a goldmine right now that keeps on giving. The media is basically the emperor, giving the thumbs down for the public execution due to the chants of the colliseum. James put himself in that position. That doesn't mean we should oblige him every single time. 

Maybe James is backtracking on the "superior" comments, maybe in a moment of exhaustion and defeat, he lashed out against "the little people." But at the same time, James is charged with "not caring enough." So which is it? He doesn't care enough to try hard, or he cared so much that he emotionally decided to lash out against people he considers lesser than him? The answer is neither, because LeBron James is not a comic book villain. He's just a guy who is in a PR ditch and the more he tries to dig out, the more he buries himself. For someone who is controlled so much by his handler, its stunning how poor a job they do. 

Yet I'm not going to sit here and take the side that James is just trying to cover the unbelievable arrogance he showed in that quote. No matter how much pressure there is to do so from the media and the fans, I'm going to keep considering James moment by moment. Right now he's a great basketball player who failed to win a ring, like so many before him. And I'm going to take his comments which don't incite us to flamethrowing just as much as those that do. Otherwise I'm not doing my job of trying to see the whole story. I'm only seeing what I want to see.

And there's nothing more LeBron-James-like than only seeing what you want to.
Category: NBA

Since: Jul 19, 2011
Posted on: July 20, 2011 7:17 am

LeBron James backtracks from 'superior' comments

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Since: Jun 17, 2011
Posted on: June 17, 2011 1:48 pm

LeBron James backtracks from 'superior' comments

 Your use of the N word only describe you.  Africans didn't sell their family the sold tribe members that they defeated and captured for the triangle trade(cotton, spices and slaves). And the problem that SOME black athletes have is that money don't change where your from. And if your from a city that puts more money in jails than they do in schools You get what you invest in. INVEST IN SCHOOLS, BE A YOUTH MENTOR...... If your not part of the solution your part of the problem! So FUYT

Since: Apr 9, 2008
Posted on: June 17, 2011 10:04 am

Heard why LeBron didn't go to college?

He didn't want to show up for finals.

Since: Jul 6, 2009
Posted on: June 16, 2011 5:05 pm

LeBron James backtracks from 'superior' comments

    Too little, too late LeBron. You are childish. You are a phony. You secretly (and sometimes not too secretly) think you are the greatest and have all the answers. You think you are a better person than anyone. You try to manipulate the public by saying what you think they want to hear.

     You have always gotten what you wanted - been treatred as special - since you were a little snob.
But here's the rub: You won't get the hearts of the fans and the average joes out there. THAT doesn't come with the package. You may get that later WHEN and IF you grow up and understand your place in the overall scheme of things. THAT will come when that change is authentic - and NOT from manipulating people. You CAN'T have the hearts of the fans untill you DESERVE the hearts of the fans.

Since: May 24, 2010
Posted on: June 16, 2011 4:43 pm

LeBron James backtracks from 'superior' comments

Last 5 athlete names that I have heard concerning trouble with the law.

1.) Plaxico Burress

2.) Kenny Brit x 3

3.) DeShaun Stevenson

4.) Shaq

5.) Terrelle Pryor

and now 5 of the biggest incidents in recent memory...

1.) Michael Vick

2.) Gilbert Arenas

3.) Ray Lewis

4.) Ben Rothlisberger

5.) Barry Bonds

I don't consider myself racist, but facts don't lie. 

Since: May 24, 2010
Posted on: June 16, 2011 4:40 pm

LeBron James backtracks from 'superior' comments

Last 5 athlete names that I have heard concerning trouble with the law. 1.) Plaxico Burress 2.) Kenny Brit x 3 3.) DeShaun Stevenson 4.) Shaq 5.) Terrelle Pryor and now 5 of the biggest incidents in recent memory... 1.) Michael Vick 2.) Gilbert Arenas 3.) Ray Lewis 4.) Ben Rothlisberger 5.) Barry Bonds

Since: May 16, 2009
Posted on: June 16, 2011 12:42 pm

LeBron James backtracks from 'superior' comments

Lebron needs to go off the grid for a while.  Don't say anything, don't do anything, and please fire Maverick Carter, that guy has done nothing but hurt your image.  If he's a friend, great, but hire a PROFESSIONAL to be your agent/manager.  Disappear please.........until next season, whenever that will be.

Since: Nov 27, 2010
Posted on: June 15, 2011 10:13 pm

LeBron James backtracks from 'superior' comments

Humble pie tastes bad and is difficult to swallow.  But it's good for you.

Since: Jun 15, 2011
Posted on: June 15, 2011 9:46 pm

LeBron James backtracks from 'superior' comments

As a lifelong Mavericks fan, I am very happy with the outcome of this years Finals. I completely understand the frustration that the Heat fans must be feeilng right now.....05-06. Or maybe not! Cuban did not compile a three headed beast in 05-06 or this year for that matter whose sole objective was to capture multiple titles. This year's Mavs squad is the stuff legends are made of. I understand how it feels to be villafied for trying to buy a championship, because I am also a Cowboys fan whom are most definately guilty of that to some degree, although probably lesser than the yankees. I won't be a hypocrit and say anything about taking shortcuts, except that it usually doesn't work. Riley was not successful at obtaining another title this year, but he definately did make things a lot more interesting with this experiment that almost worked. He unwittedly created a side show that produced some good Hollywood drama. Aside from the caughing incedent, I thought Wade handeled himself in a professional manner, (probably due to his willingness to attain some upper learning at U of Marquette). Lebron on the other hand, is a victim of his upbringing or lack of. This is not entirely his fault, he's been told from a very young age that he was destined for greatness. He in fact was entitled by the people around him at a young age and therefore allowed to wander through life without the benefit of higher learning or even simple life lessons. Apparently, learning some things by finding out the hard way has never entered into the equation in the Lebronterage. Dealing with the media needs to be a focal point for Lebron. Until he learns how to cunduct himself off the court, there will always be detractors ready to chop him down.

Since: Aug 22, 2008
Posted on: June 15, 2011 8:03 pm

LeBron James backtracks from 'superior' comments

When white fans AND sportswriters get mad at black athletes they are unrelenting,cruel,mean-spirited, unsparing,vicious and over the top. The offending black player can never again do anything right in their eyes and he can never get back in their good graces, if he ever was. Humbling said offender and ensuring that he receives a comeuppance then becomes something of an animus....a vendetta....a crusade. Blacks who do something whites don't like are to be punished ruthlessly, the death.

So, no black athlete who has ever done anything wrong is ever able to be forgiven and can't possibly get back in the good graces of white people? So then, Kobe Bryant, who was accused of raping a white girl and even went through a trial and at the very least committed adultery is still universally hated? Kobe is the victim of white people being "unrelenting, cruel, mean-spirited, unsparing, vicious and over the top"?

Kobe did the right thing. He had a presser with his wife in attendance, stated that the sex was consensual and he was guilty of adultery. He worked it out with her (I'm sure that diamond ring helped LOL!!) and the he shut his mouth about it and played basketball. This eventually got him back in the good graces of not only white people, but people of all ethnicities who didn't like what he did and got him alot of his endorsement deals back.

Additionally, white people (and people in general) will turn on any athlete or famous person that does wrong, particularly if they appear unrepentant. Don't believe me? Go see if you can track down guys like John Rocker and Ryan Leaf and see what the skin color was of most of the fans who crushed them for their misdeeds.

Also, most of the famous athletes that I have seen criticizing Lebron were black. So, are Charles Barkley, Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan racist? Or are they just Uncle Tom's and Larry Bird is racist?

Look, I'm not saying that racism doesn't exist. However, it does not exist at the level that you and others who want to use it to excuse inappropriate behavior would like to think it does. Lebron doesn't like the backlash from "The Decision" (among other things) and it's racism, not his behavior. Reggie Bush enters USC promising not to take impermissible benefits, he and his family take them anyway. The school gets hammered, alumni and fans (of all ethnicities) and the current players (most of whom are black) are suffering for his transgressions. He never apologizes to the university, his teammates, the current team, fans or alumni. He says he's going to testify before the NCAA and doesn't, says he' returning the Heisman and hasn't. Yet, the problem we all have with him is because of racism? What about the black alumni, fans, players etc. Is that racism too?

Perhaps the problem isn't that white people are too intolerant of inappropriate behavior and misdeeds by black athletes. Perhaps the problem is that black fans are not intolerant enough of inappropriate behavior and misdeeds by black athlete's. Of course, I'm probably just a racist for even suggesting that.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or