Final Thoughts LeBron James
By Fanspeak Contributing Writer Geoff Nelowet
I’ll preface this post by saying that I’ve never been a fan of LeBron James as a person, as nearly every public statement he makes seems like a lazy attempt to filter his super-ego. Quite simply, I’ve always thought the guy’s public persona is wholly contrived – he just doesn’t seem genuine. I think, now that the dust has settled, this is a good opportunity to evaluate how LeBron stands in the public eye.
LeBron, since day one in the NBA, has stressed the importance of team basketball and that winning is what’s ultimately important to him. For example, two seasons ago, LeBron scored 52 points and a triple-double in Madison Square Garden. This came literally two nights after Kobe Bryant set the record for points in a game at MSG (61). In the ensuing press conference, LeBron brushed the whole thing off and said he was only focused on his team winning. His team, a 66-win juggernaut, facing off against one of the lowliest franchises in professional sports apparently needed 50+ points and a triple-double from LeBron to ice the win. It’s not that LeBron wanted to contend with Kobe – that’s great – it’s that he sits in front of hundreds of reporters and puts on this façade of being a humble role-player.
I think ultimately what we learned about LeBron after this whole free agency fiasco – and one hour TV LeBron-athon, is that LeBron is not the person he pretends to be in front of cameras. Signing with Miami was not a choice inspired by winning. If winning was his top priority, he would have signed with Chicago and brought Chris Bosh with him. Chicago has the pieces to become an instant dynasty. With Miami, the pieces are still being fit into place, and there is no certainty as to how good this lopsided Miami team will be.
Even more importantly, the LeBronathon was so disheartening because he didn’t re-sign with Cleveland. Prior to the announcement, it was unfathomable that LeBron would actually air a TV special in which he rubs his loyal fans’ noses in the fact that he is leaving them for greener pastures. It would seem so self-absorbed, so cheap. It seemed that airing this whole thing on national TV all but sealed his return Cleveland. Apparently I was wrong. LeBron has far less tact or respect than I gave him credit for.
Dan Gilbert’s fuming letter to fans, albeit elementary and at times laughable, was a shockingly reasonable and appropriate response to LeBron’s antics. LeBron was everything to Cleveland – he was a hometown hero and the backbone of their stagnant economy and despite all this, he still could not leave quietly. LeBron doesn’t owe it to Cleveland to stay there and close out his career with a less than championship caliber team, but he does owe it to them to show some respect. Cleveland fans have a right to be angry.
In the end, it never truly mattered where LeBron ended up because no matter where he went, the results would be roughly the same: instant title contention (although I’m not quite sold on Miami’s three-man roster yet). The issue lies with LeBron’s graceless departure from Cleveland that was nothing short of self-centered and disrespectful. I just hope that after all of this, his vapid media statements are no longer received as words from a selfless team player with a championship, Jordan-esque mentality.