Jason Whitlock has made enemies for as long as he’s commented on sports. The Fox Sports personality has a knack for alienating athletes, media personalities, and anybody he deems wrong with pointed attacks on their character. A recent diatribe aimed at LeBron James continued this trend. Whitlock accused the star athlete of using serious issues for personal gain.
Public enemy No. 1
Whitlock’s entire brand has been built on a penchant for going against the grain. If everybody hates a specific athlete, he is prone to defend them. Conversely, if an athlete is universally beloved, Whitlock is going to find a way to bring them down. Whether it is a shtick or a natural proclivity toward contrarianism, Whitlock will always have something to say.
On one hand, Whitlock has elevated above the rest of the sports world. Save for a handful of equally vociferous personalities, he is one of the most recognizable figures in sports media. On the other hand, however, just because somebody garners lots of attention, it doesn’t mean that they should be commended for it. Whitlock is playing a game where he knows exactly how to get the outcome that he wants.
His toxic behavior made waves after Whitlock was chosen by his former employer, ESPN, to help anchor in The Undefeated. There, several publications painted a portrait of a man who wants everything done his way and will do anything to get it there. With that in mind, Whitlock has made a habit of using James as a target for his ire.
Jason Whitlock vs. LeBron James
When a 25-year-old African American jogger named Ahmaud Arbery was gunned down by two white men, the Twitter world erupted with reactions. Among these reactions was a thread by James. James has garnered a reputation off the court as one of the more vocal modern athletes when it comes to race. His Miami Heat team was one of the first to respond to the death of Trayvon Martin.
Now one of the NBA’s elder statesmen, James has only grown more vocal. He gave his thoughts on the death of Arbery on Twitter. In true Whitlock fashion, the commentator turned the attention on himself by accusing James of doing that same thing.
“This isn’t helpful. It’s twitter trolling,” Whitlock tweeted. “It’s using this man’s tragedy to build a brand as more outspoken than Michael Jordan. There are all kinds of ways to draw attention to this tragedy. Suggesting that we are hunted everyday/every time is just shit-stirring.”
This was just the latest example in Whitlock’s war on James. Months earlier, Whitlock chastised James for his excessive celebrations at his son’s games. He took to his show to complain.
“It’s inappropriate,” Whitlock said on his show per USA Today. “It points to how much fame has inevitably changed LeBron over the past decade. Fame is a drug more potent and dangerous than cocaine. LeBron is a fame and social media junkie. He moved to Los Angeles looking for a better high.”
Whitlock has a knack for turning the spotlight on himself at well, and people eat it up. This is the basis for both his success and the hatred he receives from sports fans. It does not end with James, however.
Jason Whitlock being Jason Whitlock
James is not the only athlete who draws Whitlock’s ire. He was famously vocal about his disdain for Kobe Bryant up until his tragic death, then Whitlock was saying the things he criticized others for saying months earlier. Herein lies the key to Jason Whitlock. Beneath the hot takes, brimmed hats, and outlandish proclamations is a guy who fires from the hip.
Whitlock’s words are always meant to garner a reaction. When Bryant was alive, he could criticize him to get attention. When he died, he could use the death to get more appearances. Whitlock is hated by the masses because of the seemingly manufactured persona he’s created. As long as he keeps it up, he’ll keep on getting headlines for this behavior.