No division of the NBA is bigger, than the Marketing/ PR team. They’re given the innumerable task, of tracking the league’s likability, traction, branding, and then charged with the responsibilities of predicting plausible league pitfalls. They have, to understand Sociology. Societal Consciousness. Ebbing social norms. The relationship between the league’s economic viability in relationship with swelling fascinations, and trends. It all begins with, Social media and Sports Media. Both the henchman to the direction the league decides and will, take.
One huge piece to this puzzle, are the players. And not every player. It’s normally the small handful of superstars – the celebrities – who are integral in this Marketing/PR manipulation. Without them, this would all be a bit more difficult.
Imagine these superstars the vehicles. Marketing/PR drives the vehicle toward paradise. But it’s the celebrities who are supposed to shine, wow, impress and draw. No player, no vehicle, is more important than LeBron James. James is, hands down, the biggest NBA star. A global entrepreneur. A kingpin. A brand in and of himself. Without James, the league lacks its go to face, the one who has sway to spread their sails wider into world dominance. But like any human, James makes mistakes. He says things. Does things. Sometimes interacts in ways that are less than marketable.
I’ll give LeBron this: He is on point 95% of the time. He wouldn’t be this huge, without his ability to act like a groomed politician. But again, he makes mistakes. Those mistakes cast across Social Media and spun by Sport Media outlets, produces hiccups in the otherwise, unbreakable name that is “LBJ,” or “Bron Bron.”
These hiccups, produce hate. Many fans and social media trolls, can’t stand LeBron James. As result, sometimes the images are joke-centered. Might seem small. But demeaning jokes, can wear a person’s shine away.
Here are fifteen photos, the NBA doesn’t want you to see about LeBron James.
15 Flopping On His Own Teammate
For years, LeBron James has been accused of flopping by fans, media, as well as fellow players. The NBA is a players' league, it's no surprise that they protect their stars as much as possible. While many role players always get warned or even suspended for flopping, these same rules don't always apply to King James who has gotten away with flopping.
This photo is from the 2016 Eastern Conference Finals between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Toronto Raptors, when Tristan Thompson accidentally brushed off LeBron James who was behind him. James, not knowing that it was his own teammate, flopped on the move and sold it like only LeBron can.
14 Cramping LeBron Being Carried Off Court
The cramps. Many players go through this. It happens more often than it happens to LeBron James. None of us say anything about it. But since it’s LeBron, we obsess, spin and the haters come out in groves, taking shots at him, his work ethic and legacy.
It’s funny how much this photo has swum around in memes. It’s become another common tool used to take fans fascination from LeBron’s greatness. Nonetheless, it doesn’t look good.
LeBron, who is known for being a workhorse, someone who’s willing to go the extra mile and carry a team, looks nothing like that in this photo. It makes him look like either, A: a bad actor, or B: a wimp unwilling to come through when it really matters.
Carried off like a king in need of some TLC? Or carried off like a coward unwilling to face the moment?
13 LeBron Slacking On Defense
LeBron has long been known as an elite wing defender. He disrupts an offensive player’s strong hand, pushing him to his weaker side. Deflects passes. Blocks shots. Bodies up on the block and perimeter ripping down rebounds. He’s the best at what he does. But he’s also aging. And he takes a heavy beating throughout the season, as the Cavs point-forward.
While this is just a photo, it does prove, at different points, he may take a possession or two off. My first response: Who cares? Every player takes possessions off. Many cherry pick, splitting back the other way for an easy hoop. LeBron isn’t that type of player. But he is human, gets tired, and at various parts of a game, may let his defense lack.
It also could simply mean he doesn’t respect the shooter. Something he’s dealt with as an up and down perimeter shooter himself. With that said, photos like this, don’t make fans feel very good.
12 Crying LeBron
Ah yes. The infamous LeBron cry baby face. It’s become a sure hit for memes across Facebook. The picture often slag with some slight, to diminish the luster that is LeBron James.
This is that perfect example of negative attention through dark humor. While it might seem silly, it isn’t from a PR level. A marketing team wants their vehicle to be the in-thing. Vogue. Carry the sex appeal. Not only be the best player in the game but one who is celebrated for all the other intangibles.
Beautiful. On point. Groomed.
Most times, LeBron looks cool. He has that fluid style to his game. A game, young kids mimic on the basketball court. Before games he arrives in high fashion outfits. During interviews, does the same.
But like any person, a candid shot may not contribute well to a person’s swagger. We all have those moments. The photo we wish we could get rid of. This is one, I’m sure LeBron can’t stand.
11 The Decision
This was a tough pill to swallow. James, a local Akron kid, the king of Cleveland. The man who professed to bring the city back to championship glory, split for Miami the Summer of 2010. He did it all in a way that was less than kind to his fans. His formerly impeccable character and showmanship, was stained. Stained, forever.
LeBron James, as we all know, made a major mistake, when he did the whole “Decision,” on live television. That “decision,” a media masquerade – his life suddenly a me-centered reality television show – added fuel to an already existing fire, for the haters. Those who couldn’t stand the guy for a variety of reasons.
While hate originates, normally, from envy or jealousy, it’s still something the league tries to contain. A likeable superstar, think: Joe Montana’s “Golden Boy” grin, is what every league wants. A star who cares about the fans; loved and adored across the world. LeBron lost some of that crediblity with his “decision” debacle on live TV. It made him look self-interested. Immature. Hard hearted. He ripped the hearts out of his home, Cleveland fans, and split for better shores. Thus, LeBron as the villain was born.
10 Curry Looking Down On LeBron
The league tried real hard to make the penultimate rivalry between LeBron James and Kobe Bryant. They never quite figured it out. Mainly, because LeBron and Kobe never faced off in the Finals. LeBron also took the helm from Kobe, as Kobe began to age. Wrong time, wrong place.
The next rivalry was Kevin Durant. But KD and the Thunder couldn’t find the success necessary to continue facing LeBron in the Playoffs. It’s also fair to point out that KD and Bron are both likable guys. And never had that intensity between them.
Insert, Steph Curry, and his band of “Villains in the Bay.” The Warriors have taken some of LeBron’s press. That’s for sure. I’m not sure he minds. Curry, back to back MVP, has become the player willing to be LeBron “equal.” The result, is one hell of a rivalry.
This photo adds to it. LeBron on the ground, with a brooding Curry above him. The league may not love it. It makes LeBron look like he’s lost his crown. And Curry isn’t primed yet, to take it.
9 LeBron Flashes Audience
You might be wondering: Why this photo? Who cares? It’s LeBron readjusting his jersey and shorts. Every player does that. Except, if you were watching this, you remember something very specific about it.
It was the NBA’s unseen moment of indecent exposure. Yes, that’s right. A moment in the NBA pantheon that will go down golden for all of eternity.
Let’s just say it this way. LeBron not only was dominating the Finals to the tune of 41 points per game. It also, seemed he wanted to show off his other attributes as a player. Get it?
He “scores” well. Has the “tool(s)” necessary to do wonders on and off the court.
Can you imagine the NBA when this happened? It’s their Janet Jackson-Justin Timberlake moment. Millions of viewers thinking about sports, and then suddenly thrust into a downward spiral.
Maybe it increased house wife viewership?
8 LeBron's Game Time Snack
Sometimes you just need to dig for gold. We all do it. We’ve all been caught in our cars at a stoplight, trying to find the nugget, causing our airways difficulty.
But we’ve never done this with millions of people watching. LeBron was either put out by a blowout, day dreaming, or having a rough night shooting wise. Whatever it was, he was inspired to search for something of value, something to show his kids when he gets home.
No, really, it’s just gross. Look at the intense focus. Look how deep the finger penetrated his flared nostril. Anyone whose had kids, has had the near moment of throwing up from something like this. Like slurping a slimy green bean.
LeBron, clearly, never grew out of that habit.
7 LeBron Slides In Model DM
LeBron James is a smart player. Smart, on the court. It’s good to make that distinction about James, because he’s clearly not very smart as a player off the court.
You could argue LeBron has been the worst at managing his social media accounts. Instead of handing off all his accounts to his own personal PR team and managers, a way to stay safe in the public eye and accountable to his wife and kids, James has been known for creeping around on Instagram.
It’d be one thing if he crept around looking at bunnies and butterflies. But LeBron clearly has a liking for how shall I say this…the back of the bus? He’s chronically caught peeping around. Which only adds to the rumors he’s a level five cheater.
I’m sure this is not the sort of the thing the league is hoping for.
6 LeBron Caught With Sidechick?
LeBron James is commonly considered a great family man. He’s involved in his two sons lives. Loves his wife Savannah. By all measurements, the kind of superstar athlete the league needs. But, recent reports, and pictures like this, would say otherwise. He’s rumored to be a cheater. And not just an occasional cheater. Like one of the biggest star-cheaters around.
While it’s true, these are just photos. It’s hard to refute the inverse, too. Stars, like LeBron James, have anything and everything. They’re bombarded continually with things I can’t comprehend. And they have the money and the fame to apprehend it.
This photo was taken during the All-Star break. It could just be a fan. But they look a little too cozy, to be that. Where’s Savannah? Where are his kids? Dark club with good looking girl…not a good op for the league or LeBron.
5 Disrespecting Coach Blatt
LeBron’s first season back with the Cavaliers didn’t end well. Kevin Love underperformed. There was a rumored feud between LeBron James and Kyrie Irving. The team played well, but didn’t end the season with a record like anticipated. The Big 3, looked more like The Big 1.5.
Another longstanding issue, was the relationship between James and then coach, David Blatt. Blatt was an unproven NBA coach. New to the ranks. Throughout the year, rumors swirled that James wanted a better, more NBA-ready coach. Why? Cause he wanted a ring.
When the team lost that season in the Finals to the Warriors, the crap hit the fan. Blatt was fired. It was clear, LeBron, the team’s acting GM, was integral in his firing. Nobody full knows that. But it’s a fair assumption.
It’s one thing for a player to weigh in on the team’s direction. Especially a player of LeBron’s magnitude. Anyone who pays attention, knows star players have that sway. Remember Michael Jordan telling the Bulls to trade Bill Cartwright, or else?
But what fans and critics didn’t like, was the perceived disrespect of Blatt. This image is one of many, that makes LeBron look and feel, rude and cold. A man willing to overstep boundaries. Which is not something the league fancies.
Or it’s just a photo of LeBron calming Blatt down after a bad call was made. Either way, it proves why a PR team is necessary. They are those called upon to shape or reshape the narrative of these images.
4 Being Called A Crybaby By Fan
This lady sat with her friend court side. She clearly was in the mood to mock the king, with childish banter. The banter? Pretending to weep. Insinuating LeBron commonly complains about things he shouldn’t.
You might be seeing this and thinking: That just makes the lady look silly. Most players complain about every call. But LeBron, being the league face, gets more flack for things every other player does. I’ve literally seen the guy clobbered by a defender, fall to the ground, rise and look at the ref with surprise. No call. No free throws. But he’s still just being a “whiner.”
People love to hate LeBron James. It’s that simple. They hold him to an unfair standard. A standard no other player has, to live up to. The league is chronically trying to paint him in a positive light. And this sort of fandom receiving press, has the opposite effect.
3 Flexing On Haters
Look LeBron, we get it. You’re ripped. Your abs are like pliable steel. Biceps so cut, they could chop wood with one flex. We get it. But at some point, fans are just over it. And no, not cause we’re jealous. Because extreme vanity is distasteful.
Most fans know celebrities like to look at themselves. It is what celebrities do. Preen like peacocks at all hours. Never a moment not flaring those back feathers to woo spectators. We also know James is not the only buff athlete who knows he’s buff. But again, he’s held to a higher standard – fair or not fair.
This type of thing adds to the narrative that began with “the Decision.” It makes LeBron look so damn self-obsessed, he’s barfable. Someone ought to get to his accounts ASAP. I’m serious.
2 LeBron The Bandwagoner
Why is this photo interesting or necessary? It shows, perhaps, the fickle nature of LeBron.
On left, the photo snapped in 2007, shows LeBron wearing a Yankees hat to a Cleveland Indians game. That alone questions his constant gloating about being a diehard Cleveland guy. Why? Cause on the right he’s wearing an Indians hat to an Indians game.
So, what is it LeBron? You staying local or finding better organizations elsewhere to play or root for?
Until LeBron locked up a multi-year deal with the Cavs last Summer, he’d hinted toward leaving. Of course, winning a championship cemented him staying. But it bids the question, whether he would have stayed had the Cavs lost again.
Can you imagine a “Decision III”? I don’t think the league, nor fans all over the world, would have welcomed it. And this kind of bologna, silly or not, doesn’t help haters or those who doubt him, feel any better.
1 Posterized By Kobe Bryant
This shot is a hater's paradise. LeBron James, the man who chronically posterizes foes, posterized by a player he was compared with.
Until Kobe Bryant’s body broke down, he and LeBron were considered the top 2 or 3 players in the league. Laker fans shouted Kobe’s name from the rooftop because of his many rings. A ring count, that until recently, was way in Kobe’s favor.
LeBron has trimmed that lead substantially. It now favors Kobe by just two. And Kobe played seven more years than LeBron.
LeBron fans argue he has the rings AND the superior stats. He’s bar none the most dominant force in recent years. A do-it-all point-forward with intangibles Kobe never possessed.
Despite all that…this is still a moment for many anti-Bron fans. They must have loved this. But the league? The league is all about LeBron. So, the question is…how to spin it in his favor?