The Venn Intersection of Stupid, Entitled, and Untalented

luthercampbell.jpgWriting is hard. Writing on a deadline is especially hard. I don’t envy reporters who have to file daily or even weekly, because some days, the mental pen runs dry and there’s not a hell of a lot you can do about it.

So I almost wanna give Dan LeBatard a mulligan on this article from last Sunday’s Miami Herald, entitled “Miami Heat’s 3 Live Crew has rapper Campbell jazzed” (which would have escaped me entirely, but for a tweet from @scharpling). Look, it’s the summer and who can concentrate on writing, especially in Miami? Maybe he just decided to throw a bunch of crap in one piece, hope to connect the pieces, and move on.

But when a writer does verbal contortions to connect Luther Campbell to LeBron James, I can’t let that go uncommented upon.

LeBatard’s premise: By joining the Heat, LeBron has proved himself a rebel and provocateur, much like Luther Campbell did when he “shocked” America in the late 80s/early 90s. Yup. Here’s the money quote:

Rebels and pioneers and villains create many emotions. Indifference is not one of them.


LeBatard tries to tie Campbell to LeBron by several unstable threads. For one, he tries to compare the completely over-the-top and tone deaf introduction of LeBron and Chris Bosh in Miami to the Miami Hurricane teams of the early 90s.

Campbell was at the center of those epic and hated University of Miami football teams that changed college football’s landscape from marching bands and sis-boom-blah to something a lot more fun and envied and despised and different. It was an insane time and an insane team, a controversial rap star on the sidelines, putting cash bounties on Notre Dame players as the violent and fast Hurricanes team he cheered devoured college football with the kind of teeth and hunger you see when piranhas are feeding.

Yeah, that sounds just like something the Heat should try and emulate. That Miami football team where no one went to class and they pretended to shoot players on the sideline and falsified federal loan applications. What a time to be young!

Both LeBatard and Campbell try to spin this as if people are upset about LeBron, Bosh, and Dwayne Wade engineering the move to Miami on their own, because we all can’t stand young, talented, black athletes taking charge of their destinies. There may a small kernel of truth to that for some people, and race plays more of role in sports than many are willing to admit.

However, I believe most folks hate this move because LeBron jerked around Cleveland for years, then announced his intentions in the most classless, ham-fisted way possible, and then had a huge, ostentatious ceremony in Miami with his bestest new buddies like he did us all a favor by letting us in on the celebration. All while ESPN reported it as such and didn’t dare ask one hard question.

Campbell even says, “his guy came to Dwayne Wade’s kingdom, and gave up his own kingdom to do it,” and says “kids in the ‘hood” will love that. Really? Kids in the ‘hood will love the fact that he didn’t want to try to win on his own, and decided to come to Wade’s “kingdom” and ride his coattails? I’m not exactly the most street guy in the world, but that sounds like a total pussy move to me.

Later, LeBatard echoes this idea that LeBron’s move is daring and a bold new direction: “James and Wade weren’t going to be the next Michael Jordan the way they were doing it, trying to go through each other.” And now we all hate them because we hate change, according to him. No, Dan, we hate this because it’s a total cop out on LeBron’s part. The guy who was always sold–and sold himself–as The King decided he’d rather be a lesser peer in someone else’s realm.

LeBatard says the tone and style of this move was “hip hop” and as such offended people who are turned off by that genre. I guess it was kind of like hip hop, but more like really bad hip hop. The kind with album covers of someone sitting in a bejeweled throne next to a Mercedes being washed by a chick in a white bikini, as a mansion glistens in the background. The kind of hip hop that disappeared by the early 00s and now litters used CD bins everywhere.

Which brings us to another big problem with LeBatard’s article: While LeBron James is one of the best basketball players alive, Luther Campbell is one of the worst rappers ever. Ever.

I still can’t believe that he was singled out by cranky family values types, because however filthy his songs are, they’re also some of the dumbest, talent-free things ever committed to tape. In the battle between terrible rappers and book-burners, I have to side with the Luther Campbells of the world, but it’s a shame that someone without an ounce of creativity or talent became a poster child for free speech.

Maybe it’s just a regional thing, and Miami is more provincial than I thought. Maybe Luther Campbell is revered as some sort of pioneer in Miami, and there’s statues of him next to Dan Marino, Don Shula, and all the coke dealers who built downtown. But I defy anyone, with a straight face, to tell me that Luther Campbell has made any music worth listening to for more than three seconds.

Five years ago, 2 Live Crew played at The Gathering of the Juggalos. Enough said.

I understand that if you’re a Heat fan (or write about them), there’s really no way to justify this like a rational, non-sociopath would. All you can say is THEY THE BEST AND IF YOU DON’T LIKE IT YOU JUST A HATER. If LeBatard had simply done that, his article would be unexceptional.

Instead, he put Luther Campbell, the Hurricanes, Supreme Court cases, and LeBron James into his op-ed gumbo, hoping it would come out nice and spicy-like. Nice try, but it wound up a pretty unappealing mix. Still mixed better than anything Campbell’s ever done, though.