Today, as you may have heard, is a big day in Court-related news. I refer, of course, to the championship parade for my beloved Miami Heat. I’ve written about America’s stupid hatred of the Heat and LeBron James in the past, so the main point I would like to add today is: HAHAHAHAHAHA! But I do have a more serious point to make about LeBron and racial polarization and President Obama. Hey, it was Obama who, before the 2004 convention speech that catapulted him into the national spotlight, told a reporter: “I’m LeBron, baby!” Now there’s data to suggest a certain correlation.
As I wrote last year, LeBron is not the first American to take a better job with more talented co-workers in a nicer city. Yes, The Decision was obnoxious, but the abuse that’s rained down on King James ever since for “title-chasing” (aren’t players supposed to title-chase?) has seemed weirdly excessive. And while the choke-under-pressure attacks felt like fair comment—he did choke under pressure in last year’s Finals—the constant descriptions of LeBron as a selfish, mindless, entitled athletic freak have always struck me as bizarre. He is an athletic freak, obviously, but he’s also the least selfish superstar I’ve ever watched, a student of the game with an off-the-charts basketball IQ, tireless on defense, fundamentally sound, and so on. Somehow, though, he’s become a symbol of dumb blingy ballers.
For some people, that is. Check out this recent Florida survey by Public Policy Polling.
Only 7% of black Floridians had a negative opinion about LeBron, versus 63 percent with a positive opinion. Among whites, it’s 20 percent negative, 26 percent positive. And while black Floridians were overwhelmingly rooting for the Heat, whites were narrowly rooting against their home-state team. For some reason, whites seem particularly offended by that bad television show LeBron did a couple years ago, although they seem to have forgiven George Clooney for The Facts of Life.
Perhaps it’s just a coincidence that the same poll gave Obama a 93-7 edge over Mitt Romney among black Floridians, while Romney led 55-41 among white Floridians. Perhaps we don’t live in an entirely color-blind society. As I wrote during the 2008 campaign, after watching a high school football coach describe his all-white team—and John McCain—as “blue-collar” rather than “flashy,” sometimes we talk about race even when we’re not talking about race.
Obama is naturally a calm dude, but he seems to have gone out of his way to avoid angry-black-man stereotypes that could make white voters uncomfortable. And while there are plenty of legitimate reasons to root against Lebron that have nothing to do with race, it’s possible that some whites do have issues with black men exercising power.
Or maybe they’re just jealous. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!