LeBron James: Most Hated Man in Basketball?

Many Fans Perceive Arrogance and Disloyalty

ByABC News
June 13, 2011, 5:49 PM

June 13, 2011— -- About a year ago, LeBron James was predicting a long NBA dynasty for the Miami Heat after his controversial "Decision" to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers for South Beach. Following last night's rout of the Heat by the Dallas Mavericks in game six of the 2011 NBA Finals, any dynasty will have to wait.

As he had in the previous five games -- even the two Heat victories -- James turned in a lackluster performance.

Given the amount of jubilant messages on Twitter and Facebook by fans of just about every NBA team other than the Heat, can "King James" now be crowned as the most hated man in basketball?

"Apparently, the 'chosen 1' took his talents to South Beach ... but he forgot to take them to the FINALS," Linda McFarlane wrote on the ABC News Facebook page.

Ever since "The Decision," watched by almost 10 million viewers according to Nielsen, when James announced that he was "taking my talents to South Beach," many NBA fans have found that he smacks of arrogance.

This was not helped by his announcement at the beginning of the season in Miami that he would bring "not one, not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, not seven" championships to the South Florida metropolis.

The reaction in Cleveland was particularly virulent, with fans burning James' No. 23 jersey in the streets after James made his announcement.

"The way LeBron James decided to go about his decision [to go to Miami] made people think he was arrogant by announcing it on a show. That and the fact he was leaving his hometown made many people turn on him," Chris Broussard, an analyst at ESPN, told ABC News.

A feeling shared by Heather Johnson, who wrote on the ABC News Facebook page, "Maybe if his head hadn't gotten so darn big he would be able to see where he's going. ... I used to like Lebron James a lot ... I like him less now that he's let the fame go to his head."

Although James led the Heat with 21 points last night, his lackluster performance in the fourth quarter of every game of the finals has led many to say that he choked during the series, a criticism he also received in the past while playing for Cleveland.

"People wonder how a guy like this, a two-time MVP, can struggle with his confidence and his ability to play under pressure at a key moment," Tim Legler, an analyst for ESPN, told ABC News.

"Sometimes you got it, sometimes you don't," James said in a post-game press conference last night.

His reaction after the game also gave fuel to his critics.

"All the people that were rooting on me to fail, at the end of the day, they have to wake up tomorrow and have the same life that they had before they woke up today. They have the same personal problems they had today," James said at a press conference Sunday night. "I'm going to continue to live the way I want to live and continue to do the things that I want to do with me and my family and be happy with that. They can get a few days or a few months or whatever the case may be on being happy about not only myself, but the Miami Heat not accomplishing their goal. But they have to get back to the real world at some point."

Something that is not helping his public image as fans in Miami struggle to deal with coming so close to a championship before it slipped from the grasp, and basketball fans across the country revel in their failure.

"If he had foreseen this, I don't think he would have done it this way," Broussard told ABC News. "Lebron is a guy who cares about his image. ... He wants to be liked."