Le'Veon Bell as the LeBron James of the NFL? In a sense, the New York Jets running back thinks so.
Bell believes the way his every move is scrutinized is eerily alike to the Los Angeles Lakers superstar. However, Bell is at peace with it all as he gets set for his first game with Gang Green and a big reason for that is because of the example set by the future Pro Basketball Hall of Famer.
In a Q&A with the New York Post's Steve Serby, Bell was asked his thoughts on his public perception. Bell responded by explaining the ways in which he relates to James and how the NBA's king inspires his mindset.
A: You got some people who love it. And then you got people, I see on Twitter, “Oh, you’re so dumb for walking away from this amount of money.” I think it’s like divided. I just started really understanding that I can’t really make everybody happy. I can’t satisfy everybody. I kind of look at LeBron James, he’s one of my people I kind of idolize, and I see how he moves and how he wins, and there’s still people who don’t like him. Even though he’s done nothing wrong, but it’s like people just don’t like him because … they don’t want to like him.
There's many people still upset Bell sat out the entire 2018 season with the Pittsburgh Steelers due to a contract dispute. Bell then elected to sign a four-year, $52.5 million deal with the Jets in the offseason. The three-time Pro Bowler has repeatedly said though he has no regrets about the holdout decision and is glad to be a Jet.
This is reminiscent of when James left his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers to join the Miami Heat in 2010. Similar to Bell, the backlash was intense but James made a decision (no pun intended) he felt was best for his career.
It paid off gloriously for James. During his four seasons with the Heat, James captured the first two of his three NBA titles. James still has his fair share of haters but three rings later he's solidified his case as a bonafide generational talent.
Meanwhile, if Bell can deliver the Jets even one Super Bowl title during his time in New York he'll be an icon and silence those who ridiculed his choice. On a smaller level, Bell would be the toast of the town for merely helping the Jets snap an eight-season postseason drought.
It's been over 600 days since we've seen the dynamic and versatile Bell play football. Thankfully that drought finally ends on Sunday. There's a prime opportunity this season for Bell to remind the world what he's capable of and you can best believe he intends to seize the moment.