Muhammad Ali set a precedent that
has become a staple marketing tool for superstar sportsmen every since; wind up
your opponents, peers, the media and the general public to such an extent that
they will happily pay to see you lose. Ali’s prime was, of course, before the
days of multi-media technology, which LeBron James is using pretty well to his
advantage. Twitter, websites, cable TV, texts… you name it, James is on it so
much he barely has time to train.
Since that excruciating hour-long
TV advert to disclose he was leaving the Cavs for Miami, James has done his
utmost to upset all but the most ardent Heat fans by abusing and threatening
whomever he felt hostility to, especially those previously devoted Cavs fans
who helped make him a certain Hall of Famer even though he hasn’t had a sniff
of a championship ring so far in his career.
James loves the ‘king’ moniker but
he’s turning more into a court jester with every outrageous pronouncement. One
of them was that he has made a note of all the naysayers who hope his movie
will be a flop – and he’s going to get revenge. Charles Barkley, never one to
shirk a challenge, physical or verbal, warmed to the James threat and relishes
taunting him on TV and on his radio show.
Consensus is that James is using
reverse psychology to make himself a sort of hate figure which will pump up the
adrenaline a few more notches and create an even better player than he already
is. Bad move. It’s likely to seriously damper his prospects. This season’s opponents
were never going to do the Heat any favours before. Now they’re going to be the
No. 1 team to stop. He craves a championship, but it looks like James may have
brought on more Heat than he can possibly manage.