Saturday, December 11, 2010

LeBron James: All-Star or Villain?

With the boom of social networking sites and different creative media outlets, being in the public eye does not hold the same appeal it once did. Our culture’s unhealthy fixation with stars and athletes creates a love-hate relationship. We love them when they do well and hate them when they don’t do what we expect from them.

Lately, All-Star NBA player LeBron James has not made himself as easy to love as before. Over this past summer he delivered a killing blow to the Cleveland Cavaliers’ fans with the announcement that he would not be returning to the franchise in which many could argue he made popular. On July 8, 2010 James shocked the nation on an ESPN special titled “The Decision.” The spectacle of a news conference not only announced that he would play the upcoming season with the Miami Heat but it also gained the Cleveland native much criticism and many disgruntled fans. Soon after the special, James was viewed and labeled by many as a “villain” or a “ring chaser” for abandoning his hometown in hopes of winning a championship.

As a defense, James used Twitter to get back at all his critics dubbing the day “Hater Day.” He addressed all criticisms and even made it a point to re-tweet several hateful, nasty and even racist tweets directed toward him. After “Hater Day,” James explained why he used Twitter as an outlet of his frustration. “I just want you guys to sometimes see it also, to see what type of words are said towards me and towards us as professional athletes,” he said. “Everybody thinks it's a bed of roses when it's really not. For me, I have enough motivation. But it's always good to have a little bit more.”

After receiving much backlash for all of these media stunts, James was scrutinized for his new team’s lack of competitiveness. However, he soon struck gold in the media with his new Nike Rise commercial. In the commercial, James repetitively asks the question “What should I do?” as to inquire about how he should move on with his career in an accepted manner. He tries to gain fans’ approval by taking suggestions about how to clean up his image. The commercial concludes with him dunking a ball, signaling the one thing he should do: play basketball.

James is one of many athletes who have faced issues with the media. It seems that if these athletes are able to perform well in their respected sport, we eventually forgive them because their talent supersedes their public faults. Whether you love him or hate him, think he’s right, wrong, or are indifferent, LeBron James’ efforts and attempts to be a positive role model have been honorable.

This guest blog was written by PRowl Public Relations staff member Kyle Smith.

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