While sports talk radio shows are debating how good of a basketball player LeBron James is, it seems one thing is certain – he is really, really bad at PR. Years ago, that trait may have been more easily disguised or dismissed outside of his home market. But, today, in this era where everyone can be a critic armed with a potential audience, it’s a fact that makes his dismal performance in the NBA Finals even worse.
When it comes to bad PR, James is a repeat, if not habitual, offender. It really came to light last summer with “The Decision,” which will go down in the annals of Sports PR as one of the all-time egocentric stunts. It got worse when he and teammate Dwyane Wade mocked an opponent’s illness during The Finals. But, the capper was his reaction after last night’s elimination when he addressed his fan critics in what I can only describe as cavalier fashion.
All day on Twitter, I saw armchair advice that started with something like, “If I was handling LeBron’s PR, I would tell him… (insert obviously good behavior here).” But here’s the problem – this is someone who clearly does not listen to rational communications advice. He is clearly someone who surrounds himself with “yes” people, who will not challenge his status as “The King” (what he reportedly calls himself).
No PR professional, regardless of track record or level of skill, can help someone who does not want to be helped and does not think he should be helped. For all we know, he has ignored good, fundamental advice and will ignore it again.
Arrogance is one factor that breeds bad PR clients. For someone who was labeled “The Chosen One” on the cover of Sports Illustrated in 2002, as a high school junior, should it be surprising that with this so-called “king,” arrogance reigns?