CBSDFW.COM — LeBron James has “heroically” returned to his home state of Ohio, leaving many with no choice but to embrace the game’s best player.
So where should all of the misdirected sports hate be focused? Who should be the target of our unfair and unending criticism?
Here are 5 candidates to become the NBA’s next villain:
1. Carmelo Anthony
An easy target.
Carmelo has zero rings, zero finals appearances, plays on the world’s biggest stage in New York, and is in the process of accepting a deal that could near $129 million.
Fair or not, Anthony is perceived as a selfish player and a bad teammate, an image heightened by his new contract.
If the Knicks continue to struggle next season — or even if the team finds succeeds — Carmelo will be the focus of much criticism and hate.
2. Kobe Bryant
Kobe is among the all-time greats, but he was anything BUT great last season. Yes, he suffered a torn achilles, but he turned around a signed a two-year, $48.5 million contract — while rehabbing.
At the age of 36 (when the season begins), Bryant will make nearly $24 million — severely limiting what the team can do in free agency.
And his arrogant attitude? It’s no longer justified by his diminishing skills.
3. Dwight Howard
A good rule of thumb: If you create a nickname for yourself, you deserve criticism.
Howard has long called himself “Superman”, even sporting the logo and cape at the 2008 Dunk Contest.
After forcing his way out of Orlando, Howard stunned many by leaving the spotlight of Los Angeles behind to sign in Houston.
His playful attitude often comes off as lazy, lackadaisical, and apathetic. Howard better get serious. He no longer gets a pass for being the “new guy” in Houston.
4. Lance Stephenson
Stephenson is among the most talented young players in the NBA. But the questions surrounding the Brooklyn-native aren’t about his abilities on the court.
He’s also one of the league’s most polarizing players. He wears his emotions on his sleeves, often loses control on the court, and is famously known for blowing in the ear of LeBron James.
If Stephenson falls off the wagon with his new team, the haters will be waiting to pounce.
5. Blake Griffin
Griffin has been at the center of many on-court confrontations in his five-year NBA career. Just ask Jermaine O’Neil, Kenneth Faried, Andrew Bogut, and Serge Ibaka — among others.
The No. 1 pick and a fan favorite is best known for his powerful, posterizing dunks. But when will that translate to success in LA?
The franchise has yet to make the Conference Finals with Chris Paul and Griffin at the helm. When does Griffin’s gritty, fighting attitude lose its shine?
Honorable Mention: Kevin Garnett (not relevant enough), Meta World Peace (not relevant enough), Kendrick Perkins, Chris Bosh, DeMarcus Cousins
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