It didn’t take long for fans to find a new reason to jump back aboard the LeBron James hate-train. All it took was ESPN’s Brian Windhorst’s newest piece on LeBron James and how he spun it, well at least the headline of the piece.
Per Windhorst’s report on ESPN.com, this is what LeBron had said:
“What I do on the floor shows my value. At the end of the day, I don’t think my value on the floor can really be compensated for anyways because of the (collective bargaining agreement), If you want the truth. If this was baseball, it’d be up, I mean way up there.”
LeBron would later add:
“I have not had a full max deal yet in my career — that’s a story untold, I don’t get (the credit) for it. That doesn’t matter to me, playing the game is what matters to me. Financially, I’ll sacrifice for the team. It shows for some of the top guys, it isn’t all about money. That’s the genuine side of this, it’s about winning. I understand that.”
So what was the headline that promoted this story on ESPN?
Of course this is going to inspire anger. LeBron has become a likable player again, his 2012 was one of the most dominant one year stretches of basketball since Michael Jordan while his 2013 is picking up right where he left off. He made people smile by tackling the gentleman that sunk that half-court shot, something has to bring him down for the hoards of haters who can’t seem to find anything to hate on.
So why not make him look petulant, spoiled and self-centered? Let’s drag that (since proven false time and time again) narrative from the 2010-2011 season back into the fray, kicking and screaming?
The headline is all that matters though, that’s what draws in readers. It’s the wrong headline for the subject matter, but the right one when the point is to get eyeballs to the story. Look at the other headlines listed, most of them go straight for the sensationalism, leaving out the meat of the story.
The meat of this story is the fact that LeBron makes it known that he took less to win a championship, and will likely be willing to do so again no matter what team he winds up signing with in 2014. He doesn’t come right out and say that, but the words “Financially, I’ll sacrifice for the team” strongly imply just that.
I’m not asking you the reader to give LeBron credit for sacrificing millions when he’s already made millions. A good argument could be made that he actually came out even once you compare the state income tax in Ohio (5.925% on income over $200,000), New York (8.97% on income over $500,000), and Florida (no state income tax). State tax rates courtesy of taxes.about.com.
Based off of his comments, LeBron isn’t asking for your sympathy either, he’s just pointing out the facts.
Rather I’m pointing out that not only should LeBron not be vilified for his statements, he’s also correct.
The main issue is the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement. It includes a salary cap in place that allows every team to legitimately compete. Some sacrifices have to be made in order to fit under the salary cap and luxury tax (Oklahoma City trading James Harden at the beginning of the season, Memphis trading Rudy Gay), and the elite players happen to sacrifice the most.
The fact is due to the CBA, while players like Joe Johnson, Deron Williams and even the Heat’s own Chris Bosh can be considered overpaid, players like LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Dwyane Wade, and even Kobe Bryant (the highest paid player in the NBA) are underpaid once you factor in not only how they play on the court, but also how they draw at the gate.
That was the point that LeBron James was trying to make, and to add to that, that’s also the main reason why he said he’s sacrificed for his team before, and he is willing to do so again.
Wouldn’t that make a much better headline anyways?
Well it wouldn’t if you had a certain goal, one that could be summed up by a scene in Don Bluth’s A Troll In Central Park.
Thomas Galicia is a co-editor at AllUCanHeat.com and a Miami Dolphins and NFL Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report. Follow him on twitter, @thomasgalicia.