PR Rehabilitation step 1: Don’t just talk the talk
PR Rehabilitation step 2: Destroy your Ivory Tower
The year was 2010 in the year of our lord, and King James was in a PR tailspin. His court was in disarray, his kingdom in rebellion, and the Jester probably even stole his thorny crown. Now, three years, one ring, and one incredibly exuberant hug and subsequent midcourt frolic later, all indications suggest that the King has officially regained his throne.
Deservedly or not, Lebron James garnered the revilement of an entire nation of basketball fans in the 2010-2011 season. This swiftly becomes evident after only ten minutes of sifting through the fossil record of blogs and news articles from the year of his Cleveland departure. In hindsight the sheer magnitude and breadth of this fan sentiment is both startling and to some extent, highly irrational. However, retrospective analysis can only lead us to attribute the near universal loathing exhibited toward James to be a direct result of a single perceived character trait: overwhelming arrogance. And, the most egregious sin of all, it was an arrogance unsubstantiated by championships, the conventional measurement of career success in the NBA.
If falls from grace were featured in Olympic gymnastics, Lebron would have received tens across the board from any panel of judges. Any slight misstep along the way could have prevented him from hitting rock bottom in the public eye. If he hadn’t conducted The Decision with such an absurd level of grandeur and self-importance, or if he hadn’t publically promised the city of Miami a near infinite number of championships (okay, the final tally was 8), he likely could have refrained from becoming public enemy number one.
Now, number 6 has stuck an equally remarkable comeback with this simple two-step process. First he backed up his bombastic proclamations. During the 2011-2012 NBA season Lebron James became league MVP. The Miami Heat then proceeded to defeat the Oklahoma City Thunder to win the NBA finals behind an MVP performance from James, and magically success transformed James’ arrogance into confidence. PRR step 1 – complete.
Fast-forward to January 26, 2013. Miami Heat fan Michael Drysch sinks a half-court shot to win 75,000 dollars. Obviously Drysch is excited, but his excitement pales in comparison with the level of elation and glee expressed by NBA superstar Lebron James as he bear hugs Drysch to the floor. Suddenly, James is no longer a villain. He’s just a kid who loves basketball, and if you watch the video, listening closely over the commentary and Lebron’s laughter, you can hear the faint sound of an Ivory tower crumbling. Who would have figured? All it takes for a King to regain his throne is to remove his crown and spend two minutes walking amongst his people. PRR step 2- complete.