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Examining LeBron’s Passive-Aggressiveness

Getty Images
Getty Images

LeBron James may not have an opinion on whether Kevin Love should start tonight, but he does have other opinions. “I have an opinion on who’s our general, and that’s Coach Lue,” James said when asked about the Love situation earlier today. “He’s going to make the right decision that he feels is best for the team. So, I’m a whatever.”

This is not quite LeBron saying, “IF K-LOVE STARTS TONIGHT, MARK JACKSON IS GOING TO REPLACE T-LUE AT HALFTIME. RICH ALREADY HAS THE CONTRACT WRITTEN UP AND EVERYTHING. But it’s also not exactly a ringing endorsement of Love. He could have easily said, “Kev has started for us all year, and we wouldn’t have won the East without him.” Instead, he basically compared Tyronn Lue to George Patton and said, “I’m a whatever.”

Of course, LeBron’s passive-aggressiveness, especially toward Love, isn’t anything new. Remember last season’s infamous FIT-OUT tweet?

This season, LeBron sparked a mini-controversy when he didn’t include Love in a team picture on Instagram, which was right around the time he subtweeted David Blatt’s habitual tardiness. And in March, he went on a tear of cryptic tweets, which he later attributed to his “beautiful mind.” Even Cavs owner Dan Gilbert has acknowledged LeBron’s tendency to be passive-aggressive. “I’m just aggressive-aggressive,” he told’s Ramona Shelburne.

LeBron’s passive-aggressiveness even predates his most recent stint in Cleveland. Remember when he wore a Yankees hat to a Yankees-Indians playoff game in 2007, or when he hung out on the Dallas sideline before a Cowboys-Browns game in 2008? It’s almost like he was telling Clevelanders to prepare for the worst two years before The Decision.

Speaking of which: The Decision was the Mona Lisa of passive-aggressiveness. It may have been tone-deaf and self-congratulatory, but it also raised money for charity, so you couldn’t criticize it too much, lest you appear to not care about the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

LeBron’s 2014 free-agency frenzy was full of passive-aggressive moments, too. His wife got in on the subtweeting action, he ignited a social media firestorm by sending moving trucks to his house in Miami, and he casually Instagrammed from Vegas as the world speculated about his plans. When he announced his return to Cleveland, he conspicuously neglected to mention no. 1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins, leading many to assume that he wanted GM David Griffin to trade the rookie for a veteran player. A little over a month later, Wiggins was dealt for Love, kicking LeBron’s passive-aggressiveness into high gear.

So, does LeBron want Love to ride the bench tonight? I have no idea. But I do know LeBron does everything for a reason. No pressure, T-Lue.