Ray Ratto: ‘LeBron Argument Is Entirely Generational’

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SAN ANTONIO, TX - JUNE 8: LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat isolated in Game Two of the 2014 NBA Finals at AT&T Center on June 5, 2014 in San Antonio, Texas.

LeBron James (Credit: Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

It’s a curious dichotomy, isn’t it? When Richard Sherman called Michael Crabtree a “sorry receiver,” he was called a thug. But when Steve Coburn dismissed the winners of the Belmont as cowards, he was called many things – and thug was not among them.

Why not?

“The obvious thing is that I think a lot of people like to go to the threatening, tall, strong black person as opposed to the non-threatening, 60-something, upset racehorse owner,” CSN Bay Area columnist Ray Ratto said on The John Feinstein Show. “But those are judgments, frankly, that I believe are being made by a shrinking yet still virulent group of people who literally have their own preconceived notions about who is and is not a thug. And those are people for whom there are no white thugs and they are beyond help.”

Look at the criticism LeBron James got for cramping at the end of Game 1. People said he was soft and let his team down. These comments weren’t racially motivated, but why don’t people think before they speak or tweet or express opinions?

And why does Ratto think the number of morons is shrinking?

“The reason why I think it’s shrinking is I don’t fall prey to the notion that people on Twitter are, in fact, the majority,” he said. “And there’s no real way of sitting down and going through every tweet that gets sent and saying, ‘This is America’ – because there are a bunch of different Americas, and I think we’ve known that for a long time.”

“The fact that gay marriage – and I know that this is going off on a tangent – is suddenly something that people are far less bothered by than they were 15 years ago leads me to believe that this is, in a lot of ways, generational,” Ratto continued. “I think the LeBron James thing is very generational. Your favorite is the one you grew up with. The people that are a generation younger than us are complete Michael Jordan-is-the-center-of-the universe guys. I go back to Russell and Chamberlain.”

“But I do know this. The people who liked George Mikan didn’t like Chamberlain and Russell. The people who liked Chamberlain and Russell didn’t like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The people who liked Kareem Abdul-Jabbar didn’t like Moses Malone and Dr. J. And it goes on and on and on.”

“When you’re talking about LeBron, it really is almost exclusively a generational argument. Because the things that people jumped on LeBron James about are provably false with two exceptions: One, he left Cleveland, and two, he left it in a variety show that was worse than Magic Johnson’s talk show. Those are the crimes he has committed, which he a ) has owned and b) probably will always have to own with a certain segment of the population.”

“But everything else about the LeBron argument is entirely generational. Why isn’t he more like Jordan? Well, why isn’t Jordan more like Magic Johnson? Why isn’t Magic Johnson more like pick your predecessor. It’s an interesting thing to tell to young people because they think that because their frame of reference is smaller that they got in on the ground floor. You know only what you know. And what this really is, is a condemnation of not being intellectually curious about what came before you – and it is as true of our generation when we were growing up as it is of this generation now.”

“I mean, the thing that irks me more than anything else is the ‘best player I ever saw’ (argument), as if that is some prove-it-all metric. Like, before I came, nothing mattered. Well, that’s just being a dumb ass – because it all matters. And it’s all part of an ongoing story.”

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