There may not be a modern athlete who has faced more scrutiny than LeBron James. Labeled "The Chosen One" all the way back in his high school days, James has had to live up to gargantuan expectations his entire career. When you have a target on your back as big as he does, a lot of silly criticism ends up being directed your way.
In the latest spot he filmed for tech company Intel, LeBron decided to poke fun at the people who focus too heavily on his emotions on the court. After he knocks down what appears to be a game-winning jumper, the camera zooms and pans until it reveals a frame of LeBron's face that looks like a small child crying. The announcers trade incredulous reactions and jokes about Baby LeBron, with one broadcaster saying, "somebody pick him up!"
The real James often takes heat for being demonstrative during games. The shot looks a lot like the Crying LeBron meme that briefly emerged after last year's NBA Finals triumph, and fans love to harp on him when he stops to advocate (or "cry") for calls with the referees. Do a quick Twitter search if you don't believe me.
The partnership with Intel appears to be all about making fun of both himself and the people freaking out over his every move. In the other recent spot, the same announcing crew talks breathlessly about a quad stretch he's doing at the free-throw line, calling it "the greatest quad stretch of all-time."
It can't be easy to live in a fishbowl as he has for the last decade and a half. The reigning Finals MVP has been especially focused on this subject lately, and it's pretty clear he feels people should dial down the scrutiny. A recent Instagram post for the #WeNeedMore campaign told fans we don't need another LeBron, but we do need more scientists, doctors and engineers.
It's hard to disagree with that logic. If we all spent less time spewing hot takes at LeBron and focused on achieving goals in our own fields, the world would probably be a better place. Don't expect an advertisement to change how he's covered, though—it didn't work before and probably won't now.