LeBron James shook the NBA by signing with the Los Angeles Lakers last week, but it appears he’s struggling to gain acceptance in his adopted hometown as a local mural of his likeness was defaced only hours after its completion on Sunday.
To honor the arrival of ‘King James,’ artists Jonas Never and Menso One painted a mural on the side of Baby Blues BBQ in L.A.’s Venice neighborhood. Initially the mural had the words ‘The King of LA’ painted around James, who is seen in a Lakers uniform.
Of course, such a title is a bit premature as the 33-year-old James has yet to play a game for a franchise that already boasts 21 Hall of Fame players, four H.O.F. coaches and 16 NBA Titles – more than any franchise besides the Boston Celtics (17).
Fans apparently took exception to ‘The King of LA’ moniker, with one offering $300 in a since-deleted tweet to anyone who defaced the mural, according to Fox News.
It didn’t take very long.
An unknown vandal spray painted a yellow line across the mural, adding the words ‘No King,’ ‘LeFraud,’ and ‘3-6,’ the latter being a reference to James’ lifetime record in the NBA Finals between his two tenures in Cleveland and one stint in Miami.
The damage was nothing that couldn’t be fixed, and within a few hours, the mural was restored with one minor change: The word ‘of’ was removed.
Now it just reads ‘The King’ on one side of James’s head and ‘LA’ on the other.
‘Doesn’t look too ‘ruined’ to me…but nice try,’ Never responded in an Instagram message. ‘Considering how tall the scribbles were I almost feel like Kobe [Bryant] did it haha. Either way we got rid of the offending ‘of.’
Last week, James officially left his home state of Ohio to sign a four-year, $153 million contract in L.A., where he already owned a mansion and where his son, LeBron Jr., is expected to attend high school.
The four-time MVP is not the first superstar to sign with the Lakers after becoming a star in another NBA city.
Wilt Chamberlain made this move in 1968, when the NBA’s reigning Most Valuable Player requesting a trade from Philadelphia to join Elgin Baylor and Jerry West. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar did it in 1975 after requesting a trade from Milwaukee, and he went on to become the NBA’s career scoring leader during 14 seasons with the Lakers.
Shaquille O’Neal went west as a free agent in 1996, embracing the advantages of living in Hollywood by moonlighting as an actor and rapper.
A multi-media star with a legitimate entertainment production company, James might be the biggest free-agent acquisition in team history.
When he suits up for the season opener, six of the top eight scorers in NBA history will be Lakers.
‘This is a special place,’ Johnson said recently. ‘We know what’s special about this franchise. The people we choose to come here are going to know that, too.’