It’s unbelievable. We have all heard the phrase “sometimes it’s like talking to a wall,” but that particular vernacular has never applied more to a professional athlete than it does LeBron James right now. The man just does not get it. Just when I think maybe I have finally started coming around to the guy, he pulls another egotistical, self-serving stunt that makes me shake my head in disbelief.
You would think after “The Decision,” “Taking his talents to South Beach,” and “The Letter,” that he would learn to just stop. Literally, just stop. Sometimes a body at rest should stay at rest. After his latest fiasco — “The Homecoming” — where James literally invited all of Cleveland to watch him throw himself a party full of pyrotechnics, break dancers, and piano solos to commemorate his return home to Ohio, the embarrassment level has reached an all-time high. Even Dennis Rodman in all of his theatrics is sitting somewhere right now in utter shock.
I have never seen anything like this. James is a basketball player, nothing else. That means that he shoots a ball in a hoop for a living. That is all. He is not Jesus, he is not God, he’s not Gandhi for crying out loud. Yet somehow, we as a society revel in this travesty, this train-wreck of a human being that is LeBron James.
I mean, let’s be brutally honest. If we are going to have extravagant homecomings to honor individuals, why don’t we have them for people who have actually dedicated their lives to serving others, not just themselves. For example, every soldier who has risked their lives to make sure we can live our lives in freedom and with opportunity — a person who is actively willing to leave their family, friends and loved ones to travel to a far away country in order to take a bullet to ensure the safety of others — deserves pyrotechnics and a piano solo, in my opinion. Not some pompous, self-proclaimed “King” who has shown that loyalty is only as deep as the amount of money on the table.
Also, what type of example and message does this send to our youth? It says that somebody like James doesn’t need to have character, integrity or loyalty because he has things like money and fame that will replace those lacking components. When Dan Gilbert, the Cleveland Cavaliers and their fans accepted James back, it didn’t signal a moment of forgiveness and atonement, it sent a clear message that loyalty can be bought for the right price. James can quit on his team in the playoffs, trash and publicly embarrass them walking out the door, rub it in their face by winning multiple championships in Miami, and then return to them as the Messiah. But all of that is forgiven when you attach a $500 million revenue stream James will bring in just by re-signing with the Cavaliers. So let the butt kissing begin, Cleveland fans.
For the record, all the comparisons of who is better, Michael Jordan or James, should die with this latest stunt. Do you know what the huge, larger than life difference between James and Jordan is? Jordan didn’t need to let you know he was good. Regardless of whether you like Jordan or not, he didn’t need to throw himself parties to exemplify his greatness or hold press conferences to update the world on his latest venture, he just DID IT. Everyday day, every game, every moment of every second he outworked you, outplayed you, and outperformed you. In the time he played, he gave Chicago Bulls fans everything he had and never once turned his back on them for greener pastures. If we are talking about loyalty, THAT is loyalty.
The point is this, we let “The Decision” and “Taking my talents to South Beach” slide; we let “The Letter” slide, we even let all the egotistical, self-absorbed commercials, promotions and other nonsense slide, but enough is enough. This issue goes way beyond sport to the realm of what we as a society truly value and where our convictions stand as a whole. If that line wasn’t already crossed with “The Decision,” it has been now with “The Homecoming.”
It is time for people, especially Cleveland fans, to look in the mirror and see they are being done a disservice. Until then, the clown car rolls on.