Last weekend was a roller coaster for three of the NBA’s top stars.
LeBron James’ Friday was whack after his scoreless fourth quarter low-lighted the Lakers’ blowout loss to the Rockets. His 28/11/9 stat line on Sunday, however, helped cap his weekend off with a win and some positivity.
Kawhi Leonard, the Clippers’ superstar forward, planned on continuing his playoff dominance in game two against the Nuggets on Saturday. Instead, his 13 points on 4/17 shooting was his worst performance of the postseason.
Hopes seemed lost for the Milwaukee Bucks after the reigning MVP, Giannis Antetokounmpo, injured his ankle in game four against the Heat on Sunday. Although, I can imagine Antetokounmpo was shocked to see the Bucks come back to the locker room with the overtime win.
Needless to say, this weekend was not the best for basketball’s best. These things happen. We all have our “on” days and our “off” days.
But don’t tell that to Twitter.
In the age of sports talk shows and social media, fans have shackled themselves to the drama. It doesn’t matter what a player did earlier in the season or even earlier that week, only their current performance matters. What they do in the now not only reflects their place among their peers, it also represents their place among the other legends of the game.
Despite what you think athletes should endure for their massive paychecks, this isn’t fair.
When Lamar Jackson broke every ankle in the NFL in 2019, many considered him the new face of the league. Yet, when Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens lost to the Titans, the narrative switched to Jackson being a one-trick pony who couldn’t win when it counted.
Nobody took into account that Jackson was in his second year.
As sports fans we need to remember that not every shot will fall, not every pass will be completed and not every game can be won. Athletes aren’t perfect, and you certainly aren’t either.
Remember that time you screwed up at work?
Or when you called in sick that one time?
Or that time you forgot an assignment?
I’m sure you don’t remember the Twitterverse calling you a “bum,” or a “fraud” or “soft” for it. Because nobody wants to tear you down for your mistakes. I’m sure you’re a good worker and I much rather you call off for one day instead of risking your co-workers health.
But when LeBron, or Kawhi or Giannis mess up or take a breather? Oh no.
That’s when we bring out the names, and the comparisons and the trolling.
And to be honest, it's kind of sad, immature and insecure.
Throughout Kobe Bryant’s legendary career, sports fans constantly held his accomplishments up against legends (Jordan), peers (LeBron) and even teammates (Shaq). It wasn’t until Kobe died that people realized that they were wrong to take the great moments for granted.
We all have moments of mediocrity. Our present self isn’t always our best self; the times we truly do achieve greatness are rare and fleeting. Why harp on the failures?
I’m not an athlete apologist, but I do like to use sports to prove a point.
We fail every single day. It could be something small or something huge. The only difference is our failures aren’t broadcasted around the world. The only thing the world sees of us is our accomplishments. We’re able to control that because we mainly post the good on our social media timelines.
Athletes don’t have that same luxury. We see the good and the bad. What we don’t see is the effort behind the scenes, though. We only see the present moment.
And unfortunately we’ve become prisoners to it.
J.L. Kirven is a senior studying journalism at Ohio University. He also serves as Co-Sports Editor of The Post. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Want to talk more about it? Let J.L. know by emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org.