- Christian Petersen/Getty Images
- LeBron James is still the greatest basketball player on the planet and yet his hairline is still the butt of many social media jokes.
- James’ hairline has a history of receding and then reappearing, but he has been more inclined to joke about it recently.
- While many make jokes about the hairline, they are missing the bigger picture – his hairline is a stark reminder of how great he still is at an age when most players are either in decline or out of the game completely.
LeBron James is the greatest basketball player of all time.
I was lucky enough to see LeBron play against the Brooklyn Nets in March of this year. I couldn’t believe my eyes. In his 15th year in the NBA, he soared across Barclays Center slamming down dunks that could be heard from my apartment in Bed-Stuy.
We just saw a man fly pic.twitter.com/F1i7RvShxW
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) March 25, 2018
After the game, I went on Twitter to contribute to what I thought would be fun, albeit trivial discourse about what happened. But no, what I encountered was painfully familiar.
By some ungodly spite pit upon me by demons, there are entire legions of people who comment incessantly about LeBron’s hairline under any tweet, post, or article about him.
Yes, his hairline has a history of receding and then reappearing. During the 2017 offseason, he famously shaved his head, leading people to believe he’d finally “given in.” But LeBron has said a plethora of times that he doesn’t care much what people think about him. He’s even joked about his hair on more than one occasion.
On the bright side for Cleveland tonight, here’s LeBron making jokes about his hairline pic.twitter.com/SYvB5usBfI
— Ben Axelrod (@BenAxelrod) October 6, 2017
Sometimes though, I wonder if the jokes cut deeper than they seem.
In a German study published in 2013, researchers assessed the psychological effect of balding in men. They found that the “enormous emotional burden” of hair loss caused considerable self-esteem issues and in some cases, body-dysmorphia, a mental illness that causes an obsessive focus on a perceived flaw with one’s body.
This causes men to spend over a billion dollars a year combatting hair loss and scrolling through the attacks on LeBron’s thinning follicles, it’s no wonder why.
In a Season 2 episode of “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” Larry David finds his house vandalized with the words “Bald A–hole.” He tells police that it’s an insult to the “bald community” and should be considered a hate crime. Of course, exactly no one thinks discrimination against balding men is an urgent issue, but male pattern baldness seems to be one of the last unfortunately acceptable forms of body-shaming.
According to the American Hair Loss Association, by the age of 35, two-thirds of American men will experience some degree of appreciable hair loss. LeBron James is 33 years old. What I mean to say is that as a freak athlete and an international superstar, his balding is perhaps the most normal thing going on in his life right now and also a stark reminder of how great he still is at an age when most players are either in decline or out of the game completely.
In his last few years in the NBA, LeBron is on track to break some incredible NBA records. He’s still somehow going off in his 16th year in the league. His new role with the Lakers in the Western Conference means his road to the Finals is much more complicated than when he played for the Cavs, and yet many still think he can pull it off. His dream is to play with his son, Bronny, whose first year of eligibility is 2024 (or 2023 if the NBA changes its draft rules).Let’s even put sports aside for a second. LeBron James has a constant and critical voice in regards to social justice issues. He was when he and his teammates wore clothes acknowledging the killings of Trayvon Martin and Eric Garner. He was when called President Trump a “bum” and he was when he spoke out about what it means to be a black man in America in the wake of someone writing a racial slur on his home in LA. Just this year, he founded the I Promise School in Akron, Ohio, an academy that focuses on at-risk youth.
LeBron James means so much to so many people. His value is astronomical and absurd.
There are so many things to say about him, making fun of his hairline should not be on the list.