We like personality in our sports stars. We like them to have a good story behind them, or some unique characteristic, and a well-defined reputation. We thrive on exploring those personalities in a very public way – look no further than LeBron James.
But we’re also undeniably interested as a culture in the dark side of personalities. We, the media and the people who consume it, can’t help but pay lots of attention to the bad-mouthers and the negative aspects of sports figures. Even if those aspects are only a small part of that person, possibly based on very specific situations. Look no further than LeBron James.
Sometimes a reputation can follow you forever. Look at Barry Bonds. His legacy is forever defined by his conviction for obstruction of justice over lying about taking steroids. But his reputation was less than stellar before that – despite his legendary career, he was known as a braggart and a poor teammate. This left him with few defenders by the time of his exit from baseball and subsequent steroids controversy.
So it is with a certain degree of wonder that we now take the news that he wants to come back to the San Francisco Giants as an instructor. Perhaps even more mysterious, though, is his assertion that he “created that guy out there” for entertainment purposes. The larger-than-life, spoiled celebrity image was then presumably not only a persona but an intentionally created one.
What we see here is a man looking to redefine his legacy. One wonders if this approach – calling it all an act, essentially – is the way to win back the hearts of baseball fans and the minds of the Giants office.