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Sunday, June 24, 2018

LeBron James Doesn’t Like Being Villain, Wants to be Good Guy Again

Nearly a year and a half after hijacking an hour of TV and upsetting nearly every basketball fan outside of Miami, LeBron James has admitted he regrets “The Decision” that turned him into a villain in the eyes of many people. LeBron says the villain role he began to embrace last season never really fit him, and now he wants to go back to being the good guy again.

“[The Decision] basically turned me into somebody I wasn’t,” LeBron said in an interview on SportsCenter. “You start to hear ‘the villain,’ now you have to be the villain, you know, and I started to buy into it. I started to play the game of basketball at a level, or at a mind state that I’ve never played at before … meaning, angry. And that’s mentally. That’s not the way I play the game of basketball.

“I got to this point by playing this game a certain way, [I’m] getting back to loving the game and having fun with the game,” LeBron said. “I play the game fun, joyful, and I let my game do all of the talking, and I got away from that. That’s what I lost last year.

“Going through my first seven years in the NBA I was always the liked one and to be on the other side — they call it the dark side or the villain or whatever they call it — it was definitely challenging for myself. It was a situation I had never been in before, and it took a long time to adjust to it.”

The adjustment for LeBron did seem forced at first. He did a commercial with Nike where he wondered aloud “What should I do?” and one of the options was becoming the villain. It was not something LeBron wanted, but something he said he was beginning to accept as of January. Accepting the role made sense; many of LeBron’s best regular season games came in hostile road environments. But LeBron as the bad guy? It was something unfamiliar, and something he wants to change.

One of the first step towards that is truly realizing why The Decision upset so many people. It looks like LeBron finally understands why.

“Having the whole TV special and people getting the opportunity to watch me make a decision on where I’m going to play; I would probably change that,” he said. “Because I can see now if the shoe was on the other foot and I was a fan and I was very passionate about one player and he decided to leave, I would be upset too by the way that he handled it.”

LeBron expressed self-awareness throughout the interview, recognizing all the things he had done wrong. Maybe he sought some serious counseling or advice over the summer, because he actually came across as real this time. He admitted that he didn’t play well in the NBA Finals, and that he didn’t make any game-changing plays in the series.

This is the latest move by LeBron in an offseason that he’s used to rehab his image. It started in August when he mocked his own hairline, which has been derided by many. Then in September, McDonald’s released a commercial where LeBron made fun of his prediction that the Heat would win seven titles. And now, in this interview, LeBron seems to be truly asking for forgiveness. He may want it from the fans, but the question is if they are willing to give it. I don’t think they are.

Thanks to Eye on Basketball for the transcription.

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