If You Can’t Beat Them, Hate Them

It’s really difficult for me to write this article. Tom Brady is easily one of my top three favorite athletes of all time. And LeBron James is just as easily my least favorite athlete in the history of sports. But, I’m putting all of that aside and looking at the facts. LeBron James is the Tom Brady of basketball.

Actually, before I put all of that aside, I want to clear the air about something first. Even if you can’t compare the two sports, Tom Brady is just better. He has a more attractive wife, he is more respected within the game, and most importantly he has more championships than LeBron.

Now, when I say that LeBron James is the Tom Brady of basketball, I don’t mean to draw similarities to their personalities, skill sets or playing styles. Instead, what brings these two athletes together is that, outside of their respective cities, they are both despised. Last year, Forbes ranked Tom Brady the sixth most “disliked” player in the NFL. Just the year before that, LeBron was ranked the second most “disliked” player in all of sports by the same magazine. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Jets or Raiders fan; chances are you love to see Tommy B lose. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Cavs or Kings fan; chances are you loved watching LBJ almost in tears at the end of Game 5 (I did). America loves to watch them fail. And when they win, their accomplishments are understated just because they are both so good at what they do.


In just over the past ten years, the two players have combined for eight championship appearances and three championship titles. They have both consistently won their divisions, won MVP awards, and have created lasting dynasties. Yet every day you can bank on an article on some sports website about how Tom Brady is getting worse and how LeBron needs to get better.

If you ask someone who isn’t a Wizards, Pistons or Cavs fan why they hate LeBron, they’ll probably point to “The Decision” as their sole justification. Similarly, if you ask someone why they hate Tom Brady, they’ll point to either his good looks or “Spygate” as their justifications. These are simply outdated excuses for athletes whose successes have been stigmatized by the media and fans alike. It’s been four years since LeBron (self-centeredly) set up his one-hour television announcement to leave the Cavs. The superstar is still paying for that mistake. Few people have noticed how much he has grown over the past four years, both athletically and professionally. He led his team to four straight NBA Finals and tried his best to stay out of the media frenzy that constantly surrounded him, even when he had players like Lance Stephenson literally buzzing in his ear. And for Tom Brady, it’s been SEVEN years since Spygate, but I can guarantee you longtime Dolphins fan and king of nonsensical arguments, Zach Dinte, will still use it in an argument about why Tom Brady sucks. Because James and Brady lose so rarely, and because they give the sports world so little to actually hate about them, they haven’t been able to shed the one mistake they’ve made in their esteemed careers. Sports fans have a bizarre ability to completely ignore the flaws in their idols, and at the same time focus only on the flaws of their rivals.

Has either of these athletes warranted the scrutiny they have faced for so many years now? The answer to that question is the same as the answer to this one: has either athlete let the scrutiny affect their performance? No. But, that’s why they will continue to be hated — because they’re going to continue to win.


photo credit: Keith Allison via photopin cc


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