LeBron James is lucky this is the NBA, not "Gladiator," because he clearly has lost the crowd. Every move he's made this summer has turned against him.
The latest example was the reaction to the tweet he sent out Tuesday evening, the one that said: "Don't think for one min that I haven't been taking mental notes of everyone taking shots at me this summer. And I mean everyone!"
It was panned all over Twitter, most succinctly by the reply I received that said "[bleep] him." (There was one great side effect: it spawned a hilarious run of #bronsmentalnotes by Myles Brown on his @mdotbrown feed.)
Quick summer summary for LeBron: creates a show to announce his free-agent choice, gets roundly criticized for both the choice and the format; takes out an ad to thank his hometown of Akron and gets criticized for not mentioning Cleveland or Cavaliers fans; tweets his reaction to all of the criticism and gets criticized for that.
At this point there’s nothing he can say that will make it better, no way he can get back in the good graces of all of the fans he lost this summer. He should either keep quiet and stay off Twitter for the rest of the summer or just go all in and make as many antagonizing comments as he can.
I hope LeBron is taking mental notes. I hope he’s storing it in a mental database and preparing a mental PowerPoint presentation for every pregame this season. I hope he stops trying to be nice and turns into Clint Eastwood at the end of "Unforgiven." If LeBron can live up to all of the additional pressure he created for himself then he will unleash one of the greatest campaigns in NBA history.
The first step is creating enemies, even if they’re imaginary. That’s what Michael Jordan did. I tweeted that LeBron’s little statement was the most MJ-like thing he’s done so far ... and that brought even more derision and LeBron hatred. It also exposed more ignorance of how Jordan really functioned. People insisted Jordan never would have said anything, he simply would have done it. It’s as if people forgot his Hall of Fame induction speech last year, or they didn't catch the multiple clues of Jordan’s m.o., including his reaction to then-Knicks Coach Jeff Van Gundy labeling him a con man (make particular note of Jordan’s comments at the 1:25 mark … they’re almost identical to what James had to say Tuesday). Another example of Jordan revealing the sub-zero temperature of his heart was in the 1997 Eastern Conference finals, when he reacted to the Miami Heat’s physical play in Game 4 by declaring from that point on: "It’s personal."
A common complaint I saw Tuesday was that Jordan wouldn’t have said something like that on Twitter. Just as with "The Decision," people are getting caught up in the medium and not the message. Of course Jordan wouldn't tweet that; Twitter didn’t exist when he played. You can’t apply Baby Boomer mentality and standards to today’s generation. It’s like failing to adjust for inflation when comparing movie box office grosses across the decades. If Michael Jordan had been born in 1984 instead of 1963 who's to say he wouldn’t have created a Twitter account or dated a Kardashian sister?
What Jordan did do -- and would have done regardless of the era in which he played -- was make good on his threats and hold anyone accountable. Vengeance was his, time and time again. Now that LeBron decided to follow the Jordan route he needs to follow the journey to its natural end point.
Oh, and if he wants to be a considered a winner and not a mean-spirited bully, he’d better average more points against the Lakers than against the Cavaliers this season.