The moment LeBron James told the world he was “taking his talents to South Beach,” he became the most hated player in the NBA.
For all his prowess on the court, the decision to ditch his home team for the bright lights of Miami immediately cast him as a villain in the eyes of many professional basketball fans far beyond the Cleveland city limits.
By now, James is used to the attention his rising stardom produces — and his detractors often drown out his supporters. But things may be getting a little out of hand.
On Wednesday, Kendrick Perkins complained about a tweet James posted after the former was on the receiving end of Blake Griffin’s much ballyhooed ‘dunk of the year.’ Two days earlier, Larry Bird said he would rather play alongside Kobe Bryant than James.
Asked about the latter, James admitted: “I’m an easy target.”
“If someone wants to get a point across — just throw LeBron’s name in there,” James said after the team’s loss to Orlando on Wednesday night. “You could be watching cartoons with your kids and you don’t like it, you say, ‘Blame it on LeBron.’ If you go to the grocery story and they don’t have the milk that you like, you just say, ‘It’s LeBron’s fault.”
Today, #BlameItOnLeBron is trending on Twitter.
In an interview with Yahoo! Sports, Perkins revealed his resentment for James’s seemingly innocuous tweet, more than one week after the dunk.
Dunk of the Year!! @blakegriffin just dunked on Kendrick Perkins so hard!! Wow!! I guess I’m #2 now. Move over #6— LeBron James (@KingJames) January 31, 2012
“You don’t see Kobe [Bryant] tweeting,” Perkins said. “You don’t see Michael Jordan tweeting. If you’re an elite player, plays like that don’t excite you. At the end of the day, the guys who are playing for the right reasons who are trying to win championships are not worrying about one play.
“They also are not tweeting about themselves talking about going down to No. 2. I just feel [James] is always looking for attention and he wants the world to like him.”
Clearly, James would have a long way to go to accomplish that aim. But from the sounds of it, he may have already resigned himself to the role of villain.
“I would never apologize about anything like that when I'm connecting to my fans,” James said. “Did I call him out? I mean, did you read the tweet? Did I call him out? I can see why he felt embarrassed. I don't think I was the only one to react to the unbelievable play by Blake and that's what it was all about.”
Has the LeBron James hate gone too far? Or does he deserve any and all flak he gets?
More from Washington Post Sports: