CHAGRIN FALLS, OH–In a stunning announcement yesterday at 3 PM, LeBron James of the Miami Heat publicly admitted to being a fan of Nickelback, becoming the first professional athlete in North America to do so. The interview took place at the Boys & Girls Club in Chagrin Falls, just 35 miles outside the LeBron-ambivalent city of Akron.
Nickelback, a rock band originating from Alberta in 1995, has released seven studio albums. In November 2011, users of the music-oriented dating site, Tastebuds.fm, voted Nickelback as the number one musical turnoff, edging out Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga.
LeBron James, widely recognized as the most talented player in basketball, recently won his second consecutive NBA Championship trophy as the leader of his squad.
“Yeah man, I really wish that Nickelback would take their talents to South Beach too,” said the back-to-back Finals MVP of the Canadian rock band. “If we could get Chad Kroeger [lead singer] to do the pump-up music before games that would be awesome.”
When asked about the courage he needed to do so he responded, “Coming out from backstage about my feelings toward Nickelback really was the right move, I spent a long time on the phone with my mom. She was on a train heading to The Great White North so the reception wasn’t great, but the sentiment got across: I needed to do this. Both for me and for others who feel the same.” During the meeting, LeBron seemed affable, finally peeling back the final shell of his complex and guarded personality.
Before LeBron won his first ring there were two kinds of NBA fans: those who wanted to see him fail for the inconceivable, incensing notion that he would team up with others as if trying to buy a championship, and Heat fans (whose numbers conspicuously surged after 2010). The situation shared similarities with Major League Baseball and the New York Yankees. In MLB–especially during the early 2000s–people loved to see their team win, but they loved seeing the Yankees lose almost more. That was the dogma that surrounded Miami in the NBA, everyone rooted for them to lose.
In essence, LeBron’s announcement drew every NBA fan, Heat supporters included, together in a robust union in hatred for the Miami basketball team and the face of their franchise. Even Miami Heat players, fans, and management were soured by the news. Pat Riley, the Miami basketball architect and team President, refused to comment on not only LeBron, but his mere existence.
The proclamation comes as a shock to nearly everyone, with one small exception.
Shooting Guard, teammate, and the man who brought LeBron to Miami, Dwyane Wade, spoke on the matter late Sunday night after a congregation of reporters formed under the terrace at his mansion. In response to NBA expert analyst Doris Burke’s question about warning signs toward James’ tastes in music, he had this to say: “You hear him humming around the locker room and at first, I didn’t really pay any attention to it,” Wade recounted, eyes misting. Other teammates, in written statements emailed to us, attributed the sounds to Discovery Channel documentaries on hippopotami fighting or horror movie soundtracks’ with nails on a chalkboard and a cat screech accompaniment. “Then I figured out it was the chorus line from Rockstar,” Wade finished, seemingly devastated. Rockstar, dubbed the second-worst song of all-time by Buzzfeed, was released in 2007 to much critical disclaim.
After the announcement, the alienation was immediate. Cleveland fans who not three years ago burned their number-23 jerseys, James in effigy, rejoiced. Social media and internet message boards were ablaze with taunts and jeering messages towards the man formerly known as the Miami Messiah. A collective cascade of contempt washed over the former-Superstar.
What does this mean for the best basketball player on the planet?
Approximately an hour after what many are calling “The Derision” Nike notified James he would no longer receive sponsorships from the company. In addition, all ten editions of his shoes have been pulled from every outlet nationwide. Fans, stinging from the betrayal, are calling for a sort of trade-in system, but Miami initially balked at the idea citing that if Cleveland could deal, so could thousands of others.
However, an outcry by the Floridian public, highlighted by a swiftly-purchased billboard Sunday night that simply read: ‘That is Cleveland, this is Miami,’ has prompted Heat executives to offer jersey switches. As of press time there was no indication whose jerseys would be eligible for exchange, but rumors peg Chris ‘Birdman’ Anderson and Joel Anthony to be the likeliest.
Multiple other companies have also decided to revoke their endorsements with James. McDonald’s was not loving his announcement and pulled hundreds of thousands of small-sized, 40 oz. cups with James’ mug on them. In a TV spot for Beats by Dr. Dre, James is shown dunking by himself while listening to an Imagine Dragons’ tune, but people inside the segment leaked different info. “He insisted on listening to Nickelback,” an anonymous source from the production crew told us. “But with audio splicing, we fixed it. We’ve done more difficult work, like editing out the word ‘practice’ from our Allen Iverson interviews.”
In a slightly awkward moment at the press conference a phone could be heard ringing, interrupting the flow of the meeting. As reporters rummaged through their belongings, the noise got louder and source couldn’t be detected. The derivation of the disturbance was from a Samsung phone lying next to James’ forearm. The ringtone rang This Afternoon by, you guessed it, Nickelback. A shocked newsroom watched as LeBron actually let the song play, only bothering to answer just before time ran out and the phone would send the call to voicemail. Samsung, another endorsement deal for ‘King James,’ ostensibly professed that they could not control the content on their devices but pleaded with other users not to judge their products on James’ behavior – they also promised to severe ties with him.
While LeBron James is feeling the Heat from the organization as well as the NBA’s numerous fans, he holds fast to his word. In a mocking Twitter post early Monday morning @KingJames boasted: “How many Nickelback albums up in my iPhone? Not 1…not 2…not 3…I got all seven man!! #MyBeats.” So this how James has chosen to handle this media nightmare, by mockery and disregard.
James’ marketability within ad campaigns and sneaker deals hasn’t been the only financial suffering since the announcement. Rumors of the Los Angeles Lakers and Cleveland Cavaliers clearing cap space to sign the former-mega-Superstar this upcoming summer, when he can opt-out of his Miami deal, have fallen harshly and on now-deaf ears. The Cavaliers, looking for an excuse not to pursue James, have taken to the extreme by trying to consume cap-room. They have done so by offering a max contract (5 years at $100 million) to former Boston Celtics and Chicago Bulls star Brian Scalabrine, nicknamed “The White Mamba.” Cavaliers GM Chris Grant denied that the signing had any other intention than making the team better. “I am unaware of any person named LeBron James,” were his only words.
It appears for LeBron that even in presently-progressive America, no one is ready to support his Nickelback fandom.