Is Skip Bayless dumb? Or is he the opposite of that?
Bayless has long been the driver of the “LeBron James actually sucks!” bandwagon. From his time at ESPN all the way until his ongoing era with Fox Sports, Bayless has not only been ripping off feisty tweets against LeBron and company, but also has been consistently bashing him on his debate shows.
There are two trains of thought on Skip Bayless:
1) Skip Bayless actually thinks that LeBron James is significantly worse than Michael Jordan, and believes that Lebron James is currently a poor man’s Kawhi Leonard.
2) Skip Bayless knows that his fiery LeBron takes will ALWAYS have an audience, and viewership is what pays his bills.
Bayless’ absurd takes will undoubtedly have you leaning toward option one. He has been so steadfast in his denial of LeBron’s greatness that it has caused even hearty LeBron haters to raise a few eyebrows. I have friends who don’t like LeBron, but hardly any of them would argue that Kawhi is actually a better basketball player.
Under option one, Bayless is a certified idiot. It’s an objective fact that LeBron James is either better than, as good as, or damn close to THE Michael Jordan in his prime. It’s also undebatable that LeBron is a better teammate, person, and facilitator than His Airness – something that Bayless doesn’t seem to understand.
Under option two, however, Bayless is a business visionary. The ratings of Undisputed aren’t record-breaking, but Bayless gets paid to sit at a desk and yell at Shannon Sharpe about sports. Ratings or not, I think we can agree that’s a pretty damn good way to feed your kids.
As a sports media consumer, I like to live in a world where the personalities I watch are giving me their true, honest opinions on all things sports. Seth Davis, Doug Gottlieb, Colin Cowherd, and plenty of other writers and tv personalities provide just that. I consume their content, and whether I agree or disagree, I thank them for getting my mind churning.
In that light, I like to believe Bayless falls under the aforementioned option two. Bayless is really just playing all of us. No, I don’t think Bayless is dumb enough to relentlessly bash LeBron James beyond rational measures – I think he knows LeBron is in the Jordan echelon, but knows that saying otherwise gives him a niche. People follow him and watch Undisputed to hear his FIRE takes on LeBron and the Cavaliers. If Skip fell into a cookie-cutter “LeBron is great” mold, he’d be nothing special – and because Skip lacks any other redeemable sports media talents, he’s manipulated a niche market for himself.
It’s for that reason that I try not to consume Skip’s work. I tried not to ever flip on his show, and back a few months ago, I tried blessing him with an unfollow on Twitter.
Both of those efforts were short-lived.
That’s the magic of Skip Bayless. As much as I know and believe this LeBron James hatred is some sort of cheesy schtick, I can’t get enough of it. Generally, I value real, genuine sportswriting and broadcasting. Bayless is the exception – his schtick is infuriating, baffling, but also mesmerizing and intriguing. For some reason that we do not know or understand, we feed off his dissonance – however contrived it may be.
You know who benefits when you retweet Skip Bayless with a quote like “Wow, you’re an idiot”? Bayless does.
You know who loves when you text your buddy “Yo, did you see what Bayless said today about LeBron? Idiot.” Bayless does.
You know who can’t get enough of the hate mail? Skip Bayless.
The only way for him to disappear is for the average American consumer to simply stop buying what he’s selling. Unfollow him. Don’t watch his show.
But, you can’t. Even I, who had the mental forethought to write an entire think piece about Bayless’ magic failed in my attempt to limit my Bayless consumption.
Skip Bayless is a drug, and we, as a sports community, just cannot get enough. He’s not dumb – he’s a visionary.
Or, he’s really, inconceivably dumb. That could also be the case.