by Marcel Mutoni@marcel_mutoni

Even prior to LeBron James’ bitter and bone-headed comments following the Miami Heat’s elimination from the NBA Finals, people were already rooting against him for a slew of reasons, most of which had nothing to do with the game of basketball.

James tried to clarify what he meant, but the PR damage had already been done.

Amar’e Stoudemire, a beloved figure in New York and across the NBA, has some advice for LBJ about dealing with the general public.

According to STAT, LeBron needs to work on connecting better with the common individual, the way Michael Jordan (supposedly) did during his day.

From the NY Times:

“I think you have to conduct yourself in way that people can relate to you,” said Stoudemire. “The more they can relate to you, the more they will appreciate you.”

Stoudemire, a fan favorite in New York, was clearly bothered by James’s remarks. “Everybody has their own way of commenting on things, but I would have commented differently,” Stoudemire said. “One thing about Michael Jordan was that no matter how great he was and how much of a platform he stood on, he still related to all the hard workers out there in the world. I think LeBron is still young,” Stoudemire added, “and there is still time for him to reconnect with the public.”

This is all well and good, but the fact remains that LeBron and MJ inhabit completely different worlds and realities.

Michael Jordan was a perfectly packaged star whose faults — being a prick to teammates, a gambler, a womanizer, etc. — were largely ignored and hidden by the media (which was terrified to lose access.) LeBron James, obviously, isn’t afforded any of that shelter by today’s media culture.

LeBron can work on being a nicer, more “connected” and tactful guy in front of the public, but only one thing is likely to get him back in people’s good graces: winning.