A recent Sports Insider study, based on a geostatistical map on Twitter, put LeBron James, the best basketball player on the planet, at the top of the most hated players in the NBA.
The map, published by Sports Insider, is based on more than 70,000 tweets, including hashtags and direct keyword phrases such as “dislike,” “sucks” and mentioning NBA players. The data was blunt in yielding that LeBron James is the most hated player in 24 states.
In second place, and quite close, is Kyrie Irving of the Brooklyn Nets, with 18 states. Then, far behind, James Harden and Kevin Durant burst in with three states each, and finally Russell Westbrook and Paul George with one state each.
Lebron James’ turbulent year
After winning the NBA in the 2019-20 season, the current course was not at all positive for LeBron James. The Lakers star had a bitter pill to swallow when he was eliminated from the Playoffs in the first round, something that had never happened to him in his entire career. The Phoenix Suns, led by a great Devin Booker, defeated the Lakers in just 6 games (4-2) and stunned the reigning NBA champions.
The saddest thing was not the elimination, but the performance of James, far from the brilliant versions of previous years. LeBron, now 36 years-old, and collectively not well supported by the Lakers, averaged less than 25 points in the series against the Suns and a former teammate in Cleveland, Channing Frye, suggested in a chat with TNT that it is time for a retirement.
“If LeBron is averaging less than 25 points a game… I think he should retire… Who are the Lakers bringing in or trading for that can put him over over the top? Have you seen the free agents? There’s nobody.”
LeBron previously suffered a sprained ankle just before the All-Star Game in March. He went through a lengthy 20-game absence and returned for a game against Sacramento in May. James’ return was not enough to improve the performance of his team, which also suffered another important loss in the form of Anthony Davis.
Beyond the sporting failure, the bad collective year of his team and its weak Playoffs, 2021 was very turbulent in general for LeBron James. The King had many clashes in social networks for getting into political issues and “anti-racist” activism. In addition, LeBron made a gesture that many users described as unnecessary and others as shameful: in Game 5 against the Suns, where the Lakers received a historic beating, LeBron retired before the end of the game during the last quarter.
“The Drama King leaves the bench with 5:40 left″ criticized sports columnist Skip Bayless in a tweet. “Guess he doesn’t want to go through the rest of this embarrassment like his teammates do. Guess he doesn’t want to be associated with this shame.”
James has always been a heavily exposed to controversy. In 2019, The King was heavily questioned for defending the Chinese communist regime when he came out to criticize the then Houston Rockets head coach Daryl Morey, who came out in defense of Hong Kong and against the Chinese regime.
As China began boycotting the NBA after Morey’s tweet, LeBron decided to call the leader “ignorant” and practically came out in defense of Xi Jinping’s communist regime.
“So many people could have been harmed not only financially, physically, emotionally, spiritually. So just be careful what we tweet and say and we do, even though, yes, we do have freedom of speech, but there can be a lot of negative that comes with that, too,” the basketball player said.
Interestingly, LeBron also came under fire this year for inciting hate on his Twitter account when he tweeted a photo of a police officer after shooting down a black girl who was about to attack another woman with a white gun.
Likewise, James is also a staunch media ally of Black Lives Matter (BLM) and the anti-racist struggle in the United States. BLM is a social political movement that has been linked to Marxist organizations, such as the Sao Paulo Forum, and also to the strategic organization of many violent riots this past summer in the United States.