LeBron James: How one writer both loved and hated him

Esquire writer Scott Raab explores his own anger as he follows the career of LeBron James.

Sue Ogrocki/STF/AP
Scott Raab's new book on LeBron James (l) details the author's anger after James left for Miami, but also discusses his own struggles with drugs and alcohol.

Esquire writer Scott Raab has written a book about the departure of basketball player LeBron James from the Cleveland Cavaliers to the Miami Heat. But he actually spends more time exploring his own hatred for the player who left the city that craved a championship. Raab's book – which bears the attention-getting title of “The Whore of Akron” is about himself at least as much as it is about LeBron James.

Raab writes about traveling between Miami and Cleveland to watch James play. He tries to comprehend the bitterness he feels towards the player who could have led Cleveland to a championship. (Raab says that before James' announcement, he originally hoped to write a book that would chronicle James leading Cleveland to a championship, but that obviously didn’t take place.) "The Whore of Akron" is partly a diatribe against James, but also focuses on Raab and his struggles with drugs and alcohol. Despite its sometimes serious subject matter, the book, says the Associated Press, is often hilarious.

(“PS,” reads a dry comment by a user named Homer Q. Einstein about the book on “I hate to spoil anything, but he doesn't like LeBron James.”)

 Raab told USA Today that writing the book was cathartic for him.

“Writing through it and trying to answer a couple of the questions of what made me so passionate but such a hater.... I think I needed to go deep to answer those and I do feel better,” he said.

Raab said he would call the fact that the Miami Heat did not win the title a happy ending for him. 

“You could feel great as a Cleveland fan. The Heat went down and LeBron succeeding wildly at failure,” he said. “After rooting for the guy for seven years to succeed, I rooted for him to fail and he finally succeeded at something.”

No matter how he felt about the Miami Heat not winning, Raab told the Akron Beacon Journal that he found himself disturbed by how badly he felt James played at the end of the season.

“While I was thrilled that he lost and particularly that he choked away the last four games of the series, it doesn't take a hater to recognize there is something sad and poignant about a player of that caliber failing like that,” he said. “It's a stunning, sad thing. Something is missing inside him between his ears.”

However, he told USA Today that he did admire James’ anger at losing and can’t deny the player’s natural talent.

“As a basketball player I've never seen the like of him,” Raab said. "I've had to re-evaluate that as best basketball player in pure game. But other than that, I don't see much to like there. Giving away bicycles and computers in Akron doesn't do much to make up for the economic damage he did to Northeastern Ohio when he left.”

He says he hopes readers will understand the struggle Cleveland fans have gone through over the decades of a team without a championship win.

“There are people who look at LeBron as a Picasso or a rock star and don't think of team and town the same way as my generation or as Clevelanders do,” Raab told USA Today. “I'd like them to get some idea of what Cleveland sports fan have experienced.”

Molly Driscoll is a Monitor contributor.

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