LeBron James back-tracks so much, he's practically moon walking his way through the public consciousness. There's almost no public stand he's taken that hasn't been followed by a sharp retreat.
“I think it’s interpreted different than what I was trying to get out there,” he said during a media session at AmericanAirlines Arena. “Basically, I was saying, at the end of the day, this season is over and regarding hatred, not only myself, but everyone has to move on with their lives, as well.
“They have to move on with their lives and their day-to-day, good or bad, as I do, too, at the end of the day. I’ve got to move on with my life.
“So it wasn’t saying that I’m superior or better than anyone else, any man or woman on this planet, I’m not. I would never, ever look at myself better than any of you guys sitting here or anybody that watches our game, or anybody that would look at me as a professional basketball player. I’m not superior to anyone. So, it may have come off wrong, but that wasn’t my intent.”
Really? I already figured the "Chosen 1 tattoo" laid out your feelings of superiority quite nicely. The post-loss rant was just the icing on the "hey, I'm better than you" cake.
But LeBron's people didn't stop there. Phase Two of the image reclamation project was posted on LeBron's website:
Congratulations Mavericks on the championship
...especially Dirk, J.Kidd, & Terry who have done so much for our league and worked so hard to get here. They deserve all the credit for what they have accomplished. Thank you to all my family, friends and especially the fans for standing by me this year. Miami fans are incredible. A special thank you to my teammates, coaches and Pat Riley and Micky Arison for all of their support. A lot to learn from this year, a lot to build on, and a lot of work to do this summer.
That's a great sentiment. It's almost like they read my three keys to repairing his image. Only it came a little too late. You can'tkeep smacking people around with arrogance and stupidity and then apologizing for it later. At some point, people will get sick of being slapped.
LeBron has turned himself into a lightning rod. He's got no one else to blame. Had he handled the move to a new team better, we'd have all gone down a different road (except for the people of Cleveland, of course). And had he handled himself better since the move, he wouldn't be the butt of jokes across the country. Even minor league baseball teams are piling on.
For one night, fans of the Peoria Chiefs can have their own replica of LeBron James' first championship ring.
Call it the cheapest promotion in sports history because, like James' ring, the handout doesn't exist.
The Chiefs, a Class A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs in the Midwest League, will hold a LeBron James NBA Championship Replica Giveaway night on Thursday, poking fun at the Miami Heatstar's loss in the NBA Finals to the Dallas Mavericks.
"Replica rings" -- also known as air -- will be handed out by stadium workers as fans enter the park, according to Chiefs spokesman Nathan Baliva.
Throughout the game, Peoria will honor "a true champion," the Chicago Bulls' six NBA titles with video clips and audio highlights and the Chiefs will take the field to "Sirius," the Alan Parson Project song used by the Bulls during their player introductions.
The Chiefs said they are "looking into" whether they can skip the fourth inning to poke fun at James, who scored just 18 points during the fourth quarter in six NBA Finals games.
"We aren't sure if the league will allow it," Peoria president Rocky Vonachen said in a statement. "But if LeBron doesn't need to show up for the fourth, maybe we won't either."
Ouch. Or how about the stinging shot taken by Stephen Colbert?
I'm sure the folks at Nike love seeing one of their biggest investments be publicly ridiculed. Maybe their PR machine can teach LeBron's PR "machine" a thing or two. Until then, it's back-track fever at the LeBron camp. If this were a Sarah Palin-type bus tour, it would be driving backwards (but with just as many goof-ups and late-night TV jokes).
Maybe someday LeBron will get it. Until then, he'll keep having to repair the damage from what he's done, rather than doing it right the first time.
Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images