LeBron James Pissed Off Younger NBA Players, But Why?
LeBron James pissed off a number of younger NBA players this week. That much we know. The why is a bit less clear.
On Wednesday, James and the various folks still remaining in the NBA bubble gathered for an all-hands meeting. The purpose was to discuss whether all parties involved wanted to continue playing out the season or formally go on strike after the police shooting of Jacob Blake.
The meeting, by all accounts, got heated. James, Kawhi Leonard, the Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Clippers argued that the season should end immediately, and that efforts should be focused on promoting social justice causes. Pretty much everyone else in attendance disagreed with ending the season prematurely, believing their platform for change was larger if they kept playing.
Chris Paul stepped up and got his entire team registered to vote. The rest of the NBA has yet to follow suit. https://t.co/h6Rwh8yu53
— Game 7 (@game7__) August 28, 2020
However, the next morning a group came together and punched out the details. From there a deal was struck and the NBA season was saved.
James did not emerge from the entire incident unscathed, though. He caught a lot of shrapnel from younger NBA players who did not appreciate how he went about trying to force them to end the season early.
Stephen A. Smith appeared on ESPN this week and recounted precisely what transpired between James and the younger players.
Stephen A Smith says LeBron James left players and owners ‘turned off’
“He was speaking out of pocket and was talking to players in a fashion that really turned some of these young cats off . . . He came across as if he was the King with some crown.”
(🎥 ESPN) pic.twitter.com/21ZkqCXzkz
— NBA Central (@TheNBACentral) August 28, 2020
“I’ve heard, first of all, that he was speaking out of pocket and was talking to the players in a fashion that really turned off some of these young cats off,” he said on First Take.
“The younger generation of players were not having what they were hearing from LeBron James because the fashion in which he spoke to them. When he stormed out of there, I was told it was in part because of that — and he sort of came off like ‘I got mine, I don’t need this.’”
Things did not improve the following day, according to Smith.
On Thursday morning, representatives from all teams met with Commissioner Adam Silver, Roberts and one owner from each organization.
Just when it seemed like a resolution had been reached, James spoke out again.
“When everybody thought the meeting was over, LeBron James grabs the mic, and from what I’m told, talks for about 15 minutes, and he’s talking for about 15 minutes in a fashion that turned everybody off because they had already agreed to what they were going to do moving forward,” Smith said.
“And he was talking about ‘the guys beneath me, I have to look out for the guys beneath me’ to the point where you have people saying, ‘What the hell you mean, beneath you?’
“Now they didn’t say that to him, but they certainly said it to people like myself, Woj and others who were covering that meeting. He came across as if he was the king with some crown and what have you, and it was a real, real turnoff.”
James is widely regarded as the face of the NBA. That much is beyond debate. So it stands to reason that he’d believe he has enough sway to force other players to do something that they don’t particularly want to do.
Unfortunately, in this specific situation, it didn’t work. James did not have the sort of sway he thought he did, and he came out looking weaker for it.
That is not to say that he wasn’t right. Maybe players would have been better off going home and campaigning for social justice in their own individual ways. But he didn’t sell the idea well, and he got burned as a result.
The question now is: will there be lasting fallout from this? Will bad blood continue to exist between James and the young guys who ultimately did not side with him?
Mind you, James still has years left in this league. He needs talent to want to play alongside him. If he wants to be an owner down the line, once his playing days are behind him, he is going to want to be perceived positively by the next generation of stars.
Big picture – his interactions with the young guys matter.
That being said, confrontations happen. Feelings get hurt. It doesn’t mean the fallout from it will last forever. So long as James learns from what happened and adjusts his communication with his counterparts accordingly, this will likely be forgotten sooner rather than later.