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LeBron chokes because… he’s black?

RedsArmyAdmin April 26, 2011 Uncategorized 10 Comments

Making my rounds around the internet, I came across a piece on LeBron James on ESPN's Heat Index

The tone of the piece is simple:  LeBron isn't really a choker… people just so want him to fail, that they magnify his failures and create a narrative that paints him negatively. 

Ok, fair enough.  I don't happen to believe it, but the writer, Ethan Sherwood Strauss, is certainly entitled to his opinion.  And then… curiously… he drops this.  The emphasis is mine:

A title victory protects an athlete. Don’t have a ring? Likability is the next best defense. If fans identify with a star, they’re less inclined to impugn him. Steve Nash has eluded the cruel “choker” tag, despite many playoff exits. My assumption is that sportswriters and fans are more likely to empathize with someone who looks like them. It helps that Nash plays a beautiful game and exudes charisma. So, it makes sense that much of the media narrative surrounding him revolves around how the Suns have failed him – not the other way around. 

LeBron James does not look like most media members, or a majority of the fans. He irritated significant numbers with the tone-deaf Decision and what many felt was a power play. The angry masses were further enraged by the local celebration of Miami’s free-agent haul. Should LeBron fail, should his team fail, mockery will write history. 

"Fans are more likely to empathize with someone who looks like them." 

That sounds a lot like the argument we've heard before that the NBA needs more white players so fans can root for someone who looks like them.  It's just as ridiculous.

This is a very thinly veiled attempt at painting the media and fans as racist… or at least say that race plays a part in why we hate LeBron James.  To imply that Steve Nash gets a pass because he's white and LeBron doesn't because he's black is ridiculous.  It's a tired and, honestly, disgusting argument.  It has no place on the internet or in blogs… much less on ESPN's site.  

And there's no denying that's what is being implied.  But again, I'll remind Mr. Strauss that LeBron had plenty of good will in Cleveland.  When LeBron's favorability rating came crashing to earth… it was his own doing with "The Decision" and other PR blunders since this past summer.  He had plenty of white people loving him before.  It's why his favorability rating was high in the first place.  

I just can't believe this kind of stuff keeps getting written.  

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  • http://profile.typepad.com/mrtripledouble10 MrTripleDouble10

    Great work here John and I couldn’t agree with you more. I’m not entirely certain he’s playing the race card argument, but it’s pretty close. To me, it’s absurd as well. Like you said, not just for blogs but for ESPN no less.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/licktheglassitol Classless

    Nash is a huge choker.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/6p01156f73aaaa970c AboveTheRim

    People are gonna be haters. And on the flip side, didn’t everyone LOVE Garnett when he was losing in Minnesota? Now he wins and everybody hates the guy. Ain’t because of what he looks like either. People love to hate.
    And everybody hates A-Rod. People thought he was awesome in Seattle (Wow look at this talent, he’s so young and gifted, isn’t he great??), then he got paid and you saw what a complete douche he was. Now everybody hates him. Not because he’s rich or one of the best at baseball but because he’s a flaming asswipe–like LeBrick.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/amakeshiftwing cez

    MAN!
    you guys are ALL racists.
    And PUNKS!
    -signed, Player X

  • http://profile.typepad.com/viva2811 viva

    So, he was white enough last year, and now he’s too black to like him?! And Cleveland was that bad of a team, that people had to like and feel sorry for poor Mr James?!
    Wow, I got it all wrong…
    Thank you Mr Strauss for making it all clear to all of us who were delusional.
    Where would we be without you?!
    Nonsense!!!

  • http://profile.typepad.com/mdsample greenbeand

    no no and no- lebron wants us all to get on his level. if being a bitch aint your thang, then you’re prolly at the right

  • http://profile.typepad.com/6p01157053529f970b zippittyay

    In defense of Mr. Strauss, yeah we root for a skinny, old, short white guy who can’t jump isn’t that quick anymore cuz he does kinda look like some of us and he acts like a guy you would want to invite over to your BBQ even if he wasn’t a hall of famer. We’re amazed a guy like Nash can still compete in a league dominated by 6’8″ 280# prima donnas raised on HGH who can get from one end of the court to the other in five steps and jump over the backboard and never win a title because they are not surrounded by talent they deem worthy.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/the_bantam the_bantam

    My guess here is he has thought that for a while, and picked an awful example like LBJ to use as evidence. Of course he leaves out what Viva mentioned, he was on top of the world in Cleveland. And this has zero to do with Nash.
    Rather than ‘looks like them’, he could have said ‘underdog’ or ‘feel good’. I found it easier to cheer for LBJ trying his ass off to make it for his hometown team in Cleveland. Living the luxury life in friggin Miami, and still feeling like a victim? That’s the guy everyone hates in the movies right?

  • http://profile.typepad.com/mattwilding Matt Wilding

    I’d imagine that people would be more likely to call Nash a choker if he had a TV special about “taking his talents” anywhere. Or if he went around calling himself “King Nash.” Or if he was constantly being compared to Michael Jordan.
    KG didn’t take this kind of abuse, despite his inability to win a title before Boston. People don’t dislike LBJ because he’s black. They dislike him because he acted like a jerk in the off-season.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/6p01156f5cd064970c Count Istvan 17-11 9-3.

    Bingo. 100% correct on all of the above.