LeBron James’ longtime agent and friend, Rich Paul, made a statement that has sports fans talking.
In an appearance Monday on the Gil’s Arena Podcast with Gilbert Arenas, Paul said James has had a tough experience as the first NBA star to play in the era of 24-hours news and social media.
“LeBron is the first player to have to deal with a 24/7, 365 news cycle of sports and opinions,” Paul told Arenas. “The crazy part is, LeBron James may not just be the first NBA player to deal with that. He’s quite possibly the first major athlete in human history to play his entire professional career in the social media era.
“No GOAT before him has ever had to deal with that.”
“LeBron is the first player to have to deal with a 24/7 365 news cycle of sports and opinions.”
Rich Paul speaks to how the coverage of LeBron is different from the other greats. pic.twitter.com/aL4scR4l4b
— Gilbert Arenas (@GilsArenaShow) September 4, 2023
There’s no question that social media and the 24/7 news cycle have dramatically changed the way the media covers sports and how fans interact with athletes. James came of age just before the dawn of the social media era, so he has shared the same experience with contemporaries such as Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul.
But addressing Paul’s GOAT reference, meaning a comparison between James and Michael Jordan, obviously MJ didn’t have to worry about social media trolls and the like. Paul also poked a hornets nest by bringing up the controversial LeBron vs. Jordan GOAT issue.
Paul’s “first major athlete in human history” is going overboard, though. LeBron is known as “King James,” but in the rest of the world, where soccer is the real king, there are a number of international stars who came of age under the social media spotlight.
Still, Paul’s statement has made for fascinating debate on, appropirately enough, social media.
Perfect timing!! No one is talking about Lebron and his agent needs to drum up some attention!! LOL
— Hunter Mahan (@HunterMahan) September 5, 2023
But you'd also see and highlight many of his flaws on and off the court. Just remember that aspect as well. I don't think MJ is as celebrated if he lived his life the same way in today's social media era.
— Chris Holloway (@C_Hollows) September 5, 2023
First NBA player yes, but the first major athlete??
— crazyaboutsports (@dancing_brick) September 6, 2023
Lebron is the GOAT of conferences championships and finals losses. Basically a modern day Karl Malone with a non stop PR machine in a 24/7 age. The alleged "King" has to count that summer camp tourney in the bubble to match Steph's 4 rings.
— Midtown Mike (@MidtownMike22) September 4, 2023
The most scrutinized player in the NBA is Bill Russell and it’s not even close. The man played during Jim Crow in the city of Boston.
— Bugs (@KingMoethe8th) September 6, 2023
Absolutely Jordan had to read it in the newspaper the next day Lebron gets shade before the game is over
— Khan Noonien Singh (@Directorgawd) September 4, 2023
Lol he was drafted in 2003 Twitter became popular around 2010 cmon Rich Paul get his beef out your mouth.
— Sportsguru (@Freshh_LA) September 6, 2023