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Posts Tagged ‘Like Mike’

The Decision

In Family, Life Lessons on July 9, 2010 at 8:04 pm

By now, even the most casual sports fan has heard about LeBron James leaving his hometown Cavaliers to team up with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami, forming a power trio that most never thought possible.  As a sports fan, I have been following “the decision” more because of the enormity of the story than any actual interest in where LeBron James plays basketball.  Quite frankly, there are many more important things going on in my life.  But, like the O.J. Simpson car chase, I found myself compelled to follow this developing story.  This time I wasn’t alone though.  My 8-year old son was following along with me.

As the ESPN coverage started, my son and I sat together in anticipation of “the decision,” even though the rumors all day long said that LeBron James was going to Miami.  Truth be told, we just wanted to hear where he was going.  Neither of us cared too much for the unnecessary drama of it all.  After watching the show, I think that it was a colossal mistake on LeBron James’ part to announce his decision in the reality television format that has become all too prevalent in today’s times.   It’s too bad that the satisfaction of being referred to as the biggest free agent in sports history wasn’t enough for him, because his hour-long show tarnished his image to many people living outside of Miami.

Obviously, Cleveland fans were going to be outraged seeing their hometown hero abandoning them for seemingly greener pastures, but they are not alone.  Fans of the other teams that were in the running to sign LeBron James are also feeling jilted today, virtually guaranteeing that LeBron will be booed in at least five cities next season.  However, the greatest fallout from the self-absorbed announcement will likely mean that the most popular player since Michael Jordan will now be looked at as a villain by many.  He may end up winning multiple championships with his new team, but his chance to be “like Mike” is likely gone forever, and he has only himself to blame.

Professional athletes don’t live by the same rules as the “working stiffs” who essentially pay their salaries.  While their playing years are relatively short, the dollars that they earn are more than most people could earn in several lifetimes.  Their money is guaranteed (for the most part) regardless of whether they continue to perform up to the standards that earned them the contract in the first place.  And though they aren’t required to give their former employer notice before leaving for another job (new team), common decency should still apply.

If LeBron James truly was appreciative of his years in Cleveland, he shouldn’t have disrespected management by making them find out about his departure on national television with the rest of the country.  But that’s not even the worst part.  What he did to the fans of Cleveland was disgraceful.  I have no problem with an athlete playing wherever they want to when they become free agents.  It’s a part of the business that we (as fans) must accept.  However, the train wreck that was “the decision” was a slap in the face to all of the people of Cleveland who supported and idolized him.

Cleveland fans finding out that their hometown hero was leaving the team for another team was bad.    Finding out that his reason for leaving was because he didn’t feel like he could win a championship with the team that has been one of the best in the league in recent years is even worse.  Having to hear the news on a nationally televised broadcast was unnecessary, and quite frankly, in extremely poor taste.  It was tantamount to a couple standing at the altar getting ready to marry, and one person calling off the wedding, leaving the other person humiliated in front of their friends and family.

Bloated contracts, lucrative endorsement deals, 24-hour news networks, an abundance of websites and social networks (like Twitter) virtually guarantee that professional athletes will continue to find new ways to feed their bottomless egos.  Gone forever are the days when kids could unconditionally look up to professional athletes as heroes.  Sooner or later, many end up do something illegal, immoral or simply distasteful.  Maybe it has always been this way and we just didn’t know about it because information wasn’t so readily available.  Or maybe, the money has gotten so out of control that professional athletes can no longer connect with the real world in a meaningful way.

When my son and I started watching “the decision,” he was ready to become a fan of the Miami Heat if LeBron James chose to join the team.  By the time the interview was over, my 8-year old said to me…“you know, Dad, LeBron James is kind of full of himself, and he’s a liar.  I don’t believe that he woke up every day thinking that he was going to play for a different team.” Needless to say, he no longer is considering becoming a Heat fan.  It makes me proud that he was able to see through all of the hype on his own.

We all make decisions every day.  Some are big decisions.  Some are small and insignificant.  Some are good decisions.  Others are so bad that we end up regretting them, wishing that we could turn back time and get a “do-over.” I suspect that LeBron James will one day look back on his decision and wish that he would have done things differently when he chose to leave his high school sweetheart (Cleveland) standing at the altar because he ended up falling in love with the prom queen (Miami).

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