Rich Paul blasts Bill Simmons for disgracing LeBron James: ‘A lot of that has to do with race’

Robert Marvi
3 Min Read

When LeBron James held a live ESPN special in 2010 to decide that he would be leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers to join the Miami Heat, he was widely ridiculed.

One of the many pundits who attacked James was Bill Simmons.

“I blame the people around him. I blame the lack of a father figure in his life,” Bill Simmons, then a leading columnist at ESPN, wrote. “I blame us for feeding his narcissism to the point that he referred to himself in the third person five times in forty-five minutes. I blame local and national writers (including myself) for apparently not doing a good enough job explaining to athletes like LeBron what sports mean to us, and how it IS a marriage, for better and worse, and that we’re much more attached to these players and teams than they realize.”

However, Rich Paul, James’ longtime friend and agent, feels that such criticism is a reflection of those who criticized James and not of James himself.

“Paul saw this as condescension and worse,” wrote Isaac Chotiner of The New Yorker. “’That’s why I don’t speak to Bill Simmons,’ he said. ‘A lot of that has to do with race, too. He wouldn’t have said that about Larry Bird. He wouldn’t have said that about J. J. Redick. You get what I am saying? ‘The Decision’ ten years ago is the norm today. It’s what everyone wants to do. Kids won’t even decide where they go to college without it being a big production, and Bill Simmons says some s— like that.’”

A decade later, the public’s opinion on “The Decision” is mixed. Some still blame the current Los Angeles Lakers superstar for what they see as narcissism and self-indulgence.

However, a growing contingent is praising James and Paul for empowering NBA players, especially superstars, to take control of their narrative and destiny.

In the old days, superstars rarely, if ever, left their team via free agency, even when said team had no chance of competing for an NBA championship in the near future.

James and Paul have effectively written the playbook for superstars putting themselves in the best position to win championships and taking advantage of marketing opportunities.

As a result, players such as Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Kawhi Leonard have switched teams via free agency and teamed up with other stars in order to compete for a ring.

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Robert is a native of Santa Monica, Calif., and a graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara. He has been an avid NBA fan since he was a little kid in the mid '90s and fell in love with the Nick Van Exel-led Lakers teams. He truly cherishes the Kobe Bryant-era of Lakers basketball and the five world championships that came with it, and is looking forward to the team's next NBA title.