Somehow, we’re a few weeks into the season, and I haven’t yet dedicated a single posting to The Decision LeBron made to take his talents to South Beach. Lots of people have had lots to say about The Decision, and I’m not going to repeat things I’ve heard elsewhere.
To me, there are two critical points to make.
1. As I’ve blogged before, I don’t have anything against LeBron. I mean, I tend not to hang around with guys who call themselves The King. And I have trouble identifying with guys who tattoo “Chosen One” on their backs. (If I tattooed “Chosen One” on my back and walked around South Beach, it would seem extremely strange. People would be asking “Chosen to do what? Be first on line at Burger King?”) But I don’t have a problem with LeBron personally.
My problem with him, as I’ve touched on in multiple postings (in addition to the above posting, here, here, and here, to name a few), is that he got anointed The Next Big Thing without earning it, and that he got the benefit of the doubt for reasons I couldn’t understand — actually, no… he didn’t even need the benefit of the doubt, because nobody even doubted him. The amount of LeBrown-nosing that went on was unbelievable to me.
All of that said, I don’t blame LeBron for lacking humility. I recognize that he’s lived an unusual life, with people telling him he was The King around the time most kids are dealing with pimples and peach-fuzz, and only saying it more often as he got older.
Here’s the thing, though… If you’re going to call yourself The King, and tattoo Chosen One on your back, and fancy yourself as Heir Jordan… then own it. Put your teammates on your back. Demand the ball in the clutch. Stay with the team that drafted you, or join one in need of a savior.
And, you know what else? If you don’t want to be The King, and you don’t want to chase Jordan’s legacy, that’s also fine. But, if that’s how you feel, then own that, too. Look into the camera, and say “The fire doesn’t burn inside of me like it burned inside of Michael and burns inside of Kobe. I’m more Robin than Batman.” Had he done that, I would have been a bit disappointed, but I wouldn’t have held it against him. Honestly, I think I’d have a bunch of respect for him if he had the guts to do that. I mean, I don’t have the single-minded determination it takes to be the Greatest Of All Time in my profession, so I wouldn’t have a problem with LeBron if he acknowledged that he doesn’t, either.
Of course, he took neither of these paths. Frankly, I’m not sure what path he’s traveling down. When LeBron announced that he’d be
Dwyane Wade’s sidekick taking his talents to South Beach, I was confused, and I’ve been confused since.
Basically, it seems to me like he has a personality disorder. I mean, this is a guy who calls himself The King, and has a tattoo that says Chosen One. (Have I mentioned that already?) This is a guy who arranged for an hour-long tv show just to cover his announcement about where he’d be taking his talent. Obviously, this is a guy who’s interested in The Big Stage, and who likes the spotlight.
Yet, despite all of that, when it came time for his announcement, he announced that he was going to THE ONLY TEAM WHERE HE WOULD NOT CLEARLY BE THE TOP DOG. It’s crazy, right? He couldn’t play with Kobe or Durant, so The Chosen One chose to play with the ONLY OTHER GUY IN THE LEAGUE whose skills compare to his own. Weird, if you ask me.
2. The Chosen One seems to be at least somewhat surprised at the anger that his Decision generated, and lots of ink has been spilled about how unpopular he has become and why. Among the other things that The King doesn’t understand is this… sports fans are not always rational. Sometimes we cheer for a guy just because he’s on our team, and boo a guy just because he isn’t. The King was, to a large degree, immune from that simple fact for the first 7 years of his career.
He entered the league as a phenomenon, and people weren’t all that interested in booing the 18-year-old who was destined to be The Greatest Ever. Then, by the time that wore off, lots of fans across the league wanted him on their own team. So, when he went to places were he would otherwise be booed, he was cheered instead. (As I blogged about here.)
Well, even Kings can’t fight gravity forever. LeBron’s “popularity” in cities like New York, LA, and Chicago, was built on the mirage that he was going to be one of theirs. And it was built in Cleveland on the mirage that he already was. Once he took his talents to South Beach, that all came crashing down.
Now, it’s funny to me when people say they can’t understand why so many people hate LeBron all of a sudden. Here’s why: It’s sports, dude. It’s sports.
More on LeBron to come over the next few days. I hope you’ll check back, and offer your comments!
Nice article. I think it all comes down to RESPECT. Jordan, Bird, Magic, Isiah all realized you EARN it through you individual talents and more importantly from the elevating the skills of those around you. LeBron thinks you get RESPECT from promoting yourself and exploiting state tax laws to circumvent salary cap rules. Did the U.S. win any accolades when they allowed professionals to play in the Olympics? The only thing they did was “raise the bar” so high that anything but a Gold Medal is a failure. The same holds true for LeBron and Co.