This is not a typical Lebron James article about his stats, awards or endorsements. This article is about the psyche of Lebron James and how he can use failure as a motivation tool. One of the most difficult things in life for a human being to deal with is failure, but what can be even more devastating is if other people hope and pray that you to fail.
That sentence pretty much sums up the NBA career of Lebron James since he became a member of the Miami Heat. He is the best player in the NBA after being hyped to be the best from junior high to high school and straight to the pros. In addition, unlike so many other athletes, he doesn’t have an arrest record; he takes care of kids, donates his time and money to the community and avoids scandals. However, if popularity contest were held in the media between Lebron, Michael Vick, Tiger Woods and Alex Rodriquez, Lebron would probably be voted least liked athlete. The question, is does Lebron deserve this treatment?
After the all accolades, MVP awards, commercials, endorsements and millions of fans, is it fair to him not be well received by fans? Most fans point to “The Decision” as a negative portrayal of an athlete who wanted everyone to care about the team he wants sign with, but many fail to realize that “spectacle” raised millions of dollars for the Boys and Girls Club of America. Other fans may point to Lebron aligning himself with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh however leading a team to NBA Finals in your first stint with the team is no easy obstacle.
One of the worst statements Lebron has ever made other than promising eight championships for Miami is the statement he made after last year’s NBA finals loss to Dallas. Lebron stated that at the end the day all the people who hate him or wish him bad luck will have to wake up and go back to their lives. Even though it was his opinion in an obvious low moment, it seemed to be very arrogant to suggest people were jealous of him. At 6’8’’, 265 lbs, he is the best pound for pound pure athlete in sports today which may make people feel inferior and as a result question his character flaws. Every human being has character flaws but star athletes tend to hide them with their competitiveness and lack of concern for the opinion of fans. In simpler terms, it is okay to be a “jerk” or have “killer instinct” in sports because it allows the athlete to connect with fans but not invest anything emotionally.
Michael Jordan was described by his teammates and the media as killer, the most competitive person that they know and yet still he was the most marketable athlete in his time. Jordan also cared about the fans but not as much as to let their opinions affect his game. Mohammed Ali is another athlete who often turned negative opinion into positive accomplishments because he had the drive to prove everyone wrong. Michael Jordan was once quoted as saying, “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of fight in the dog!” Mohammed Ali was also quoted as saying, “I never thought of losing, but now that it’s happened, the only thing is to do it right. That’s my obligation to all the people who believe in me. We all have to take defeats in life.”
With those quotes being said, does not Lebron have enough “fight” to conquer his failures or enough “belief” to rise from losing? In Lebron’s defense, there are many athletes who cannot deal with failure, whether on or off the court. The most recent example would Tiger Woods who was a golf phenomenon and arguably still is the world’s best golfer. Tiger had the fame, fortune, media attention and admiration of fans but all came crashing down when scandal hit. Figuratively, Tiger had worked so hard to be the best golfer that he failed to keep his ego in check and when he couldn’t control it his life started to spiral out of control. After the scandal, he began losing tournaments and people began questioning his abilities. To the consummate professional these events may have ended their career but to a “jerk”, obstacles it would make them push harder.
The one glaring difference between Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, Mohammed Ali and Lebron James may be psyche. The first three athletes are described in the media as being ruthless, unapologetic, harsh to teammates, disrespectful opponents but they are also revered. With Woods, Jordan and Ali there is a sense of idolatry where they don’t have to make excuses for their psyches because they are winners. Conversely, Lebron James has to discuss all the time about not winning and his current mental state. It might be fair to say that Lebron James lacks confidence when he fails because psychologically he is not used to failing. It is also fair to say that one championship will not be enough since he promised eight. In my opinion, Lebron should stay true to himself; he tried the hero role in Cleveland only to be unmercifully scrutinized for leaving for free agency. Afterward, he tried to embrace the hate in a villain role only to be made uncomfortable because it’s not his personality.
We all can agree the psyche of Lebron James is fragile. He appears to be obsessed with winning but his actual goal appears to win everyone’s affection, which could ultimately be his downfall.
The pursuit of perception is not just a quest during an athlete’s career; it’s a journey through life because, after all, every human being wants to feel appreciated at some point in life. However, in the world of professional sports, it is better to be respected than loved.