After Sunday's Game 6 loss to the Mavericks, LeBron James caused a stir when he said, in so many words, that he was going to keep living life the way he wants to and all his no-good haters still have to wake up in the morning and deal with the terrible problems of their depressing lives. That's an overstatement, in part, but also a mostly accurate reflection of the comments. The rest of the press conference was actually quite humble -- James admitted his own failings several times -- but this negative bit overshadowed all else.
"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."
It's good that James corrected himself, but it also seems like he may have gone too far in that direction by saying he's "not superior to anyone." The fascinating aspect of LeBron's celebrity is that we want him to be better than everyone else even as we expect him to be humble in public. It's a delicate balance to strike, and in this case he may have gone too far towards humility to be entirely believable.
Perhaps it's the case that, until he earns a championship, LeBron just won't be able to win when it comes to speaking to media about himself and the hate directed towards him. People want to see him at the top; until then, nothing he does will be enough.
It's a shame, because LeBron actually gave good, thoughtful answers to the media in several playoff press conferences, and his Game 6 postgame was for the most part a measured take on his own deficiencies during the series. At this point, though, James is too much of a lightning rod to get away with one rare mistake. He screwed up when he spoke to the press on Sunday and no one's going to forget about it just because he corrected himself.