Jul 10, 2010

All Eyes on Me



LeBron...where to begin?  I would say "now that the dust has settled," but it hasn't settled yet.  So I guess I'll be forced to write from a dusty perspective then.  In the midst of the dust, what do I see?  I see a man whose knees buckled as he tried to carry a team, a city, and a blighted industrial region on his back.  I see a man who would rather blend in the mix, than be the main ingredient.  I see an overgrown man child who felt compelled to leave the promised land of his birth, who loves the attention of the masses, but who doesn't want the responsibility that goes with it.  I see a former elite superstar who has now become the game's most celebrated role player. 

On one hand, I want to congratulate the ring-less King for his own self-awareness.  He realizes his limitations, and this is a good thing.  As indicated in the documentary More Than a Game, LeBron likes to hide behind his friends.  With this in mind, this recent free agency decision allows him to now play sidekick to D Wade, in Wade's city. The presence of Chris Bosh, the man Shaq once called, "the RuPaul of big men," helps to provide cover as well.  The three of them have now turned the NBA into the AAU. Throw in the looming presence of Pat Riley, who is sure to be back on the sideline before this is all said and done, and you have a situation fit for a ring-less King. 

LBJ was the biggest thing in the state of Ohio.  That's a lot of weight to carry, if you're not prepared to do so.  Evidently the effort wore him out.  Now, he can kick back in South Beach, work on his "brand," and let someone else have to worry about all that extra curricular activity. 

I have no problem with LeBron leaving Cleveland.  He owes the city absolutely nothing.  For sevens years he helped bring massive attention to "The Mistake by the Lake."  He's not obligated to stay if he doesn't want to.  It is a cliche, but it is also true that this is a business, and LeBron made a business decision.  Though he left 30M on the table, it's not like he's hurting.  If he feels that he will be in a better frame of mind in Miami and will a have a better opportunity to win a title then he has earned the right to make the move.  He was loyal for seven years.  Again, he owes Cleveland nothing.

He also owes Cav's owner Dan Gilbert nothing.  Gilbert went on a what read like a drunken tirade Thursday night, making all sorts of incendiary accusations in the wake of LeBron's departure.  LeBron had done a pretty good job making an ass of himself through this whole process, but Gilbert's letter out-assed LeBron by leaps and bounds.  What would Gilbert have said if 'Bron had decided to stay in Cleveland?  Would 'Bron have still been "narcissistic" and "cowardly" then?  If he quit on the team so often in the past, why would Gilbert want him back anyway?  Gilbert is responsible for helping to create the beast, and then he gets mad when the now larger-than-life beast no longer obeys his orders?   Gilbert's response suggests that maybe 'Bron was right to shake the scene.  Such a classless outburst signals that Gilbert may not be the ideal owner to play for, particularly if it means living in a city as depressing as Cleveland.

LeBron is far from innocent in this, however.  To stage the announcement of his decision on ESPN was one of the most self-aggrandizing stunts in the history of American culture.  Based on the embarrassing way that he went out against the Celtics in the playoffs this year, you would think he might be just a lil' humble, but no.  It's as though all this free agency hoopla is supposed to erase the fact that you won more regular season games than anyone else the last two seasons, along with two MVP awards, but you have zero Finals appearances to show for it.

Court Jester James, the lack of championship rings and this media charade have badly damaged your so-called "brand."  Maybe someone should point out to you and those geniuses who handle your business that there was nothing to market here.  Your play on the court gives you the opportunity to market, but after seven years and no rings marketing opportunities start to slowly dry up.  Yes, all eyes were on you during this recent ego feast, but you should know that the criticism will be relentless now. Practically every time you lose a game you will be asked what's wrong, why can't the three of you play together, etc?  Don't get annoyed when the doubters and the haters come at you.  Seeing your jersey burned on national television will be the least of it.  You staged this clown show on ESPN, so don't get all bent out of shape when the same media that you dragged through all this starts clowning you in return.

I now hear that they are calling this new Miami trio, "The Three Kings."  D Wade even said that the three are perhaps the best trio to ever play together at the Friday press conference, more like a WWE event, announcing the signings.  That's a lot of talk for three guys who thus far have accomplished absolutely nothing as a team.  But in this era of "talk about it, don't be about it" I guess we should crown them press conference champs?

The digital era that we live in has exposed us to the concept of virtual reality.  This sense of the virtual helps explain LeBron's situation.  He is a virtual king, without a crown, now playing for a virtual championship team, without a ring.  Back in the real world though, where flesh and blood take the place of pixels, LeBron is an immature young adult in his mid 20s, who appears reluctant to accept the responsibilities that go along with all the accolades that have been thrust upon him.  When faced with frustration, disappointment, and an increasingly difficult challenge, LeBron decided to walk away and hide behind two of his friends.

In spite of how composed LeBron might sound, though he wasn't at all composed when making this announcement, he is a young man who has done nothing in his life but play basketball.   Until his level of maturity equals his skill level as a basketball player, he will continue to come up short in the game of life. Yes, life skills are the area of your game that needs the most work now. To this end,  I'm sure there are some good therapists in Miami.  And if you and your "team" are having trouble finding one, just holla at Ron Artest and he can give you the number to his.

1 comment:

nick olah said...

I enjoyed talking to you about basketball in your classes and it's great that there is still an outlet where I can get your thoughts on the game. It's just too bad that we can't say anything good about our Pistons right now.