ESPN.com writer Ethan Sherwood Strauss thinks Miami Heat forward LeBron James is labeled a “choker” because of his race.
A title victory protects an athlete. Don’t have a ring? Likability is the next best defense. If fans identify with a star, they’re less inclined to impugn him. Steve Nash has eluded the cruel “choker” tag, despite many playoff exits. My assumption is that sportswriters and fans are more likely to empathize with someone who looks like them. It helps that Nash plays a beautiful game and exudes charisma. So, it makes sense that much of the media narrative surrounding him revolves around how the Suns have failed him — not the other way around.
LeBron James does not look like most media members, or a majority of the fans. He irritated significant numbers with the tone-deaf Decision and what many felt was a power play. The angry masses were further enraged by the local celebration of Miami’s free-agent haul. Should LeBron fail, should his team fail, mockery will write history.
“They brought this on themselves,” is a common refrain, used to justified our screeching derision of tears and “softness.” Perhaps James and his team deserve future embarrassment, but let’s not confuse a desire to shame with honest analysis. If the Heat lose, it will probably happen due to flawed strategy, a lack of execution and a little bad luck.
But in the imagination of many, LeBron will have “choked” because the story people want often overrides reality. To quote Maya Angelou, “people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
So it has nothing to do with the fact that James is 1-0f-6 when trying to win or tie a game in the closing seconds? LeBron has nobody to blame for the backlash from the fans and media except LeBron.
Steve Nash doesn’t get blamed because he’s not nearly on the same level as James. That’s not a knock on Nash, who is still a great point guard at 37.
It has nothing to do with his skin color. It has everything to do with being in the spotlight. Let’s save the race arguments for when it’s actually needed.