Kowtowing to China, doxxing a policeman, and leaving the court area late in a decisive playoff loss … it all adds up.
LeBron James is the most hated player in the NBA, according to social-media measures. And he’s proven even less popular than Colin Kapernick in one unscientific “poll.”
Citing geotagged Twitter data, the Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat and Cleveland Cavaliers star was declared the most hated NBA player in nearly half the states by sportsinsider.com.
The Sports Insider map reflected over 70,000 tweets, hashtags, and direct keyword phrases about disliking NBA players in each state — phrases like “I hate Player X” or “Player Y sucks.”
According to that map, Mr. James was most hated in 24 states with only ex-teammate-turned-foil Kyrie Irving even coming close — the least-liked in 18 states.
James Harden and Kevin Durant each were most-hated in 3 states, and Russell Westbrook and Paul George notched one hate-state apiece.
But Mr. James remains the lightning rod for the league’s fans for both on- and off-court reasons.
Sports analyst David Hookstead noted Mr. James’ selective and partisan activism and criticism of police, which has led him to attack an NBA owner for standing up for Hong Kong marchers protesting a totalitarian government while cheering on Black Lives Matter protests.
The NBA player also vowed “You’re next” with the hashtag “Accountability” to a Columbus police officer who saved a Black woman’s life by shooting her knife-wielding attacker.
And on the court, Mr. James has a reputation as a flopper and, most recently, left a Phoenix court with five minutes to go in a playoff game against the Suns (and the Lakers down by 30). In the series-clinching defeat, he and his team left the court without the usual congratulatory hugs and handshakes.
“I guess this is what happens when you go out of your way to alienate fans, act like a petulant child on the court when losing and when you dox a police officer for saving a girl’s life,” Mr. Hookstead wrote.
“Turns out, fans don’t really like seeing that stuff. Who ever could have guessed that might be the case? I sure never saw it coming!” he concluded.
Mr. Hookstead also conducted a poll asking his Twitter followers, “Who is worse for sports: LeBron James or Colin Kaepernick?”
The “winner” wasn’t the man who started the anthem-kneeling protests, praised Fidel Castro and wore pig-decorated socks to protest police brutality.
“Of the 1,855 voters, 60.1% voted that LeBron is worse for sports than the former 49ers quarterback,” Mr. Hookstead wrote.