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USA Today: LeBron James Is Weird 16

LeBron-James

LeBron James photo courtesy of Bridget Samuels

USA Today has reported that LeBron James rides his bicycle to and from his basketball games. This article made the headlines on the USA Today website because of how abnormal it is in America for a rich and famous basketball star to use a bicycle for transportation.

Instead of explaining the real reasons LeBron rides his bicycle to games, the article highlights how unusual LeBron is. It sounds patronizing and almost seems to be mocking James:

LeBron James, environment MVP.

The Miami Heat star reduces his carbon footprint the same way a 12-year-old might, by riding his bicycle to basketball games. The 6-9, 250-pound three-time NBA MVP has been doing this for a while now, taking advantage of South Florida’s warm climes (sic). But that still doesn’t make it any less unusual.

“He’s a different animal,” teammate Dwyane Wade told Fox Sports’ Chris Tomasson on Tuesday. “He’s a different beast. What can you say?”

LeBron probably rides his bicycle to games because he likely gets there faster than he would if he were stuck in traffic. It’s probably more therapeutic for him than being stressed out behind the wheel, and it probably clears his mind and relaxes him before and after his basketball games.

But the USA Today article didn’t acknowledge these benefits. Instead, James is an outcast. He’s doing something that only a 12-year-old would do.

In 2011 we covered Baltimore Orioles baseball player Jeremy Guthrie, who also commutes to games by bike. Guthrie also experienced the same reaction when other players saw him commuting by bike. But that perception soon changed:

“Initially a lot of the players were like “why are you riding your bike, that’s crazy“. Then we had two or three other players, they went over and got a bike as well. Pretty soon we had 2 or 3 guys riding to the park. It’s caught on. People see the benefits of it, they see the convenience factor. You see gas prices go up, it just makes a lot of sense”

Despite the fact that 32,367 Americans died last year in automobile collisions, “everybody is worried” about LeBron being on a bicycle. LeBron is a risk taker for riding a bicycle to the games. From the USA Today article:

“The other night, everybody was a little worried, but he’s a grown man so it’s fine”

I don’t fault the USA Today reporter for his portrayal of James. He was probably trying to be playful rather than patronizing. But the portrayal of James as an outcast only further reinforces the belief that bicycles aren’t truly a viable mode of transportation. This perception is systemic in our society because we have become so dependent on motor vehicles.

Perhaps 20 years from now an article entitled “NBA Player Drives Car To Games” will make headlines because it will be so abnormal and old-fashioned to drive an automobile to the game.

Right now it might be hard to imagine, since we are so embedded in the car culture frenzy that has enchanted us for the last 60 years. But thirty years ago it would have been hard to imagine that we would be walking around with small computers in the palm of our hands that are connected to the entire world 24/7.

From Ghandi:

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

Updated (Jan 4th), in this interview LeBron James is asked whether riding his bike contributed to how well he played the basketball game:

James D. Schwartz is a Transportation Pragmatist and the Editor of The Urban Country. You can contact James at james.schwartz@theurbancountry.com or follow him on Twitter.

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  • http://lovingthebike.com Darryl is Loving the Bike

    We live in a strange world don’t we? Good to see you pointing out the positive side of a story like this.

  • http://lovingthebike.com/ Darryl is Loving the Bike

    We live in a strange world don’t we? Good to see you pointing out the positive side of a story like this.

  • TKeen

    I’m just amazed that someone who’s 6’9″ can find a bike that fits him!

  • TKeen

    I’m just amazed that someone who’s 6’9″ can find a bike that fits him!

  • lagatta

    TKeen, have you never been to the Netherlands? The AVERAGE height of a man there is at least 6 feet. And yes, they make “athletic” bicycles and not just heavy commuting ones.

    • Tkeen

      I don’t doubt the Dutch make all types of bikes, (along with velomobiles, which look wicked cool) but I have in fact been to the Netherlands and did not find the locals to be especially tall – certainly nowhere near a point where 6’9″ would be considered unremarkable.

  • lagatta

    TKeen, have you never been to the Netherlands? The AVERAGE height of a man there is at least 6 feet. And yes, they make “athletic” bicycles and not just heavy commuting ones.

  • http://profiles.google.com/har.3036 Har Davids

    If one guy on a bike is weird, come over to Europe and you’ll see people in every hues, shapes, sizes and combinations riding bikes as if it’s a natural thing to do.

  • http://profiles.google.com/har.3036 Har Davids

    If one guy on a bike is weird, come over to Europe and you’ll see people in every hues, shapes, sizes and combinations riding bikes as if it’s a natural thing to do.

  • Tallycyclist

    “…same way a 12-year-old might, by riding his bicycle to basketball games…”

    I doubt many 12-year-old’s even do this anymore. The percentage of kids in the US walking or biking to school has plummeted down to 13%, according to 2009 stats. If it weren’t for inner-city schools, I bet this number would be even lower. In 3.5 years, I have yet to see a single kid on a bicycle getting around town here. The only exception was very occasionally seeing 1 or 2 boys walking their bikes on the sidewalk adjacent to the school along my commute.

    Although part of the reason I bike is due to the positive benefits mentioned by James above, the reality is that my commute is never truly relaxing or enjoyable. I’m constantly having to deal with many of the externalities brought about from the obsession with the motor car. It’s quite disgusting and pitiful to say the least.

  • Tallycyclist

    “…same way a 12-year-old might, by riding his bicycle to basketball games…”

    I doubt many 12-year-old’s even do this anymore. The percentage of kids in the US walking or biking to school has plummeted down to 13%, according to 2009 stats. If it weren’t for inner-city schools, I bet this number would be even lower. In 3.5 years, I have yet to see a single kid on a bicycle getting around town here. The only exception was very occasionally seeing 1 or 2 boys walking their bikes on the sidewalk adjacent to the school along my commute.

    Although part of the reason I bike is due to the positive benefits mentioned by James above, the reality is that my commute is never truly relaxing or enjoyable. I’m constantly having to deal with many of the externalities brought about from the obsession with the motor car. It’s quite disgusting and pitiful to say the least.

  • http://www.facebook.com/karen.voyercaravona Karen Voyer-Caravona

    Since my husband is a bitter Cleveland Cavs fan and cannot forgive LeBron, I can only speak this here: Good for him! What does it matter why he rides a bike to the game. Maybe he just enjoys it. Anyway, we are now if Phoenix and ride our bikes to the Suns games – save on parking and money left over for sushi afterward. The only thing better would be if Steve Nash hadn’t left for LA.

  • http://www.facebook.com/karen.voyercaravona Karen Voyer-Caravona

    Since my husband is a bitter Cleveland Cavs fan and cannot forgive LeBron, I can only speak this here: Good for him! What does it matter why he rides a bike to the game. Maybe he just enjoys it. Anyway, we are now if Phoenix and ride our bikes to the Suns games – save on parking and money left over for sushi afterward. The only thing better would be if Steve Nash hadn’t left for LA.

  • Tkeen

    I don’t doubt the Dutch make all types of bikes, (along with velomobiles, which look wicked cool) but I have in fact been to the Netherlands and did not find the locals to be especially tall – certainly nowhere near a point where 6’9″ would be considered unremarkable.

  • Pinoy MTBiker

    BIKING is a good exercise (cardio) and it benefits him a LOT. i do bike to work, and it gives me more energy during the day. In fact, driving a car everyday may lead to obesity (measure your tummy). Big belly… thin wallet and pocket! But withbiking, you get a flat belly and a fat wallet to spend for your bills.

  • Corey

    G.A.N.D.H.I. GANDHI. try it with me now.