For someone who has lived in the spotlight since he was a teenager, LeBron James has impressively been able to avoid any scandal during his career as a superstar. But then he did it. He said f*ck on live TV.
Tuesday night, LeBron James scored his 38,888th career point, surpassing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to become the NBA’s all-time scoring leader. After the game, he took the microphone to address the crowd and said, “F*ck man, thank you guys” on national television.
Not everyone was a fan of the f-bomb. Skip Bayless expectedly criticized LeBron’s profanity, because there was no way he was just going to celebrate the moment without taking some sort of contrarian angle. But Wednesday afternoon, The Michael Kay Show’s trio of hosts aligned with Bayless, as Kay, Don La Greca and Peter Rosenberg condemned James for dropping the f-bomb on live TV.
“We don’t curse like that in the house,” Kay said after explaining he recorded the game for his young son. “So, all of sudden, this guy’s just cavalierly dropping the f-bomb…It’s wrong! LeBron’s better than that! LeBron is a really erudite guy, he doesn’t need to fall on the f-word.”
If hearing a curse word is that big of a deal, it seems like a fine opportunity to reiterate, ‘we don’t talk like that in our house.’ Beyond that, I’m not sure why it’s such an egregious act, but perhaps I’ll feel differently when my son’s speech advances beyond his current state of variegated babbling.
Kay explained that he wasn’t singling James out, noting that he didn’t appreciate it when David Ortiz rallied Red Sox fans by dropping an f-bomb while addressing the Fenway Park crowd shortly after the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.
“It’s just not a classy thing to do,” La Greca said. “I mean, it’s a big moment. It’s a historic moment. That’s going to live forever, Peter, like we’re going to remember that speech. If you’re an NBA fan, LeBron fan, that’s going to live forever. That’s part of his legacy. That is going to be in the video obit, and do you really want to have that word edited out?”
The f-bomb didn’t ruin Ortiz’s speech, if anything, it added to its allure. But is LeBron’s speech even going to be part of his legacy? I’ve known Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the NBA scoring leader throughout my entire tenure as a basketball fan. Never once did I hear what he said after passing Wilt Chamberlain to top the scoring list on April 5, 1984.
“He’s much better than that, he’s bigger than that, he’s classier than that” La Greca continued. “That’s a classy moment, a classy guy, and a classless thing to say.”
Rosenberg, who also works as a host for WWE where there is no shortage of profanity despite being an entertainment brand that attracts kids, surprisingly sided with Kay and Le Greca on the issue of LeBron’s f-bomb.
“We, here at ESPN, broadcast UFC, everything, every post-fight in UFC they are cursing non-stop,” Rosenberg said while noting he’s a fan of “vulgar” hip-hop. “I am not sensitive when it comes to those words, but I truly feel that for me, and this may sound super old school, I won’t take UFC 100 percent to the most serious level of sports until they stop doing that! It’s the big leagues! You don’t curse in front of everybody.”
LeBron dropped profanities during the Cleveland Cavaliers championship parade. Jason Kelce did the same after the Philadelphia Eagles won the Super Bowl in 2018. Tom Brady did it after beating the Rams this season. New York Mets star first baseman Pete Alonso says ‘LFGM’ to end every postgame interview after a win. Professional athletes curse. And if this is the biggest scandal that LeBron is involved in during his NBA career, then he continues to be an incredible role model for kids.