I have some things to say about LeBron James

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As some of you know, I live in Cleveland (well, a suburb). Before I lived here I was in Kent (go golden flashes?), Akron, and Cleveland proper. I grew up in this part of the state and I bought a house here, so I'm stuck in Ohio for about another decade at least. And during all that time, I've been a sports fan with the unfortunate personal failing of feeling obligated to root for the local teams. Other than a few heart-breaking years in the mid to late 90s and early 2000s with the Indians, this has not meant a lot of excitement for me.

LeBron James changed all that for a while.

He was young, dynamic and exciting to watch. He was the second coming of Jordan and best of all, he was a local boy. Here, finally, is the man this town has waited for going to the red-headed step child team of Cleveland sports (which is saying a lot if you think about it). Salvation. We have nothing to show for it but a few playoff appearances but you can't say we haven't had fun. Just being a significant contender is a blast this city hasn't experienced in over a decade. It was awesome.

And now...

What kind of person schedules an hour long special to announce that he's going to get paid millions of dollars? What kind of a person does that to, not only the 4-5 other cities where he might sign but to the city and state that raised him? Little known fact: during high school he spent a large chunk of time playing with the Cavs at the time, the entire St. Vs team did, as much as was allowed. I doubt this is in the movie (I haven't seen it yet) and it doesn't get a lot of press, but he has professional NBA personnel working with him since he was 15. That's a big deal. There is a very real possibility that he's going to take his hour long nationally televised ego-stroking love letter ESPN is producing and use it to break the collective heart of an entire state. "I'm not only leaving, but I want you all to site through 58 minutes of my highlights so you see what you're missing."

What a massive tool. Whether he stays or he goes, he is a massive tool. There is nothing redeeming about this special. Oh sure, the ad money is going to charity. Whatever. That doesn't make it anything other than it is: one giant corporate entity stroking the out of control ego of an idiot.

There are stories about him if you grew up in this area. I'm not going to relay them because, frankly, he was a kid and we're all kind of dicks when we're kids. It would be unfair to hold those stories against him (imagine growing up if you knew you were going to get paid hundreds of millions of dollars right out of high school, you would be a dick too). The man has had the best PR coaching money can buy. He's a smooth operator and as long as he can keep his ridiculous tendencies bottled, he can come off as a good guy. I just don't think he actually is a good person. This circus is hurtful to his fans, ESPN, the teams in the running, and, ultimately, his own image.

LeBron, leave or stay, just try to be less of a d-bag about it.

Update: D-Bag =)

Does it help that the advertising money from the ESPN show all go to the Boys and Girls club?

Lebron is a brand, and he's managing his image like a business. One of his goals is to become the first billionaire athlete, and you get there by managing your brand.

For Lebron the person, this may be a d-bag move. For Lebron the brand, this is a required part of doing business.

Oso wrote:

Lebron is a brand, and he's managing his image like a business. One of his goals is to become the first billionaire athlete, and you get there by managing your brand.

I suspect that Michael Jordan has already reached that plateau, and Tiger Woods (before he screwed up) was well on his way there as well. Peyton Manning is probably well on his way there as well.

The TV special is happening for one reason and one reason only, and it has nothing to do with ego. People will watch it, therefore they will show it.

Switchbreak wrote:

The TV special is happening for one reason and one reason only, and it has nothing to do with ego. People will watch it, therefore they will show it.

Actually, I think ego is the whole reason the show is happening. James went to ESPN with the idea, not the other way around.

I can understand Cleveland fans angst about this, and think the whole thing will backfire slightly against Lebron in the short term, but if he does sign with Miami and he, Bosh and Wade will 5 straight titles, I think all will be forgive.

Except for Ohioans, who will likely seethe with the hatred of a thousand suns for all eternity.

Think, Kirk screaming Khann!

I knew about the money going to charity, that's just a way to try to justify it.

And switch, it's all about ego. Yes, ESPN is airing it because people will watch and LeBron wants it to boost the brand (good point, Oso). But still, what is it if not ego? Jordan and Woods didn't hit the billion mark (a completely arbitrary milestone, really) but James wants to?

What is it if not ego?

I also learned that the announcement is happening towards the beginning of the special, which is kind of palatable. More so than an hour of highlights and speculation preceding it, anyway.

The funny thing is, if some intrepid reporter out there wants to make a name for themselves and they find out not only where LBJ is going but has the proof to back it up, where will they take it? ESPN. Do you think ESPN will air that news with a special in the works? Of course not. But they will buy the story so no one else can air it.

I'm just a bit burned out by all of this.

As a casual NBA viewer that lives in in southwest Ohio, it doesn't surprise me (much) about the "special". I like the Cavs, and where ever Lebron goes, I'll root for them as well.

I think what irritates me the most though is managing brand. Sure, it makes sense - doesn't make it right. There are reasons I will or will not root for players, and those decisions tend to hinge on what kind of a person they are.

I don't know much about LeBron James other than I hate playing against him in NBA2k9 but I don't see how this could be anything other than ego stroking. It's not like anyone interested in Basketball doesn't already know him and his current free agency situation and the money is for charity so it's not a cash grab.

I wish such a high level professional basketball player would live up to the title and have a shred of dignity or humility but then when you talk about how NBA people have been after him since he was 15 I'm beginning to think this guy has never lived in the real world and therefore may very well not know he's a pompous ass. I wonder how many yes men follow him around every day to get a piece of the pie.

Am I the only person who's sick of humans being referred to as brands? Probably.

mrwynd wrote:

the money is for charity so it's not a cash grab.

SOME of the money is for charity. It is absolutely a cash grab, and the fact that they are trying to hide that makes it more obvious that that's all it is. This is a business deal between two large corporations (ESPN and LRMR marketing) in which both are going to get rich.

Oso wrote:

Does it help that the advertising money from the ESPN show all go to the Boys and Girls club?

Of course not. Everybody knows that the charity du jour is cleaning oil off of birds. Get with the times, King James!

Money going to charity is pretty nice. Remember that this is an entertainment business we're talking about. The money in sports is in the entertainment aspect of the game, and self-promotion is a part of that. Come to think of it, hating various sports figures for being self-promoting douchebags is a part of the entertainment. Who knows what they're like in real life?

Deion Sanders always seemed like a self-promoting douche when he was playing football, but since he stopped playing he seems a lot more likable as an announcer. Michael Jordan never seemed like a big douchebag until his Hall of Fame speech, and all of a sudden everyone looked around a realized, "Hey- turns out this guy is a kind of an asshole." Same thing with Tiger Woods. Just part of the business of sports.

I'm not sure I get it. He was raised to play basketball, then given millions of dollars to do it, and he took Cleveland to the finals or semifinals every year for five straight years. Which is more times than they've ever been to the semifinals or finals without him, in their entire history. So his ego seems kind of a problem of Ohio's own creation, doesn't it? And maybe he had a meltdown, but it seems like to claim you didn't get your money's worth you'd have to say he didn't play damn well, which is obviously untrue.

I mean, he gave Ohio five good years (seven good years?), and I'm not sure how that doesn't fulfill his obligations. Would 4 more years be enough? He's 25 in a sport where the average age is 27. Seems like he deserves to make a few choices to advance his career and yes, his brand.

He's going to be past his peak soon, and it actually interests me that he's talking about investing his income, talking to Warren Buffet and envisioning the LeBron empire reaching a billion dollars.

An hour seems ridiculous, but if you add up all the news coverage postulating on what LeBron is doing every moment of every day, it seems actually a bit minuscule. People will eat that sh*t up, the money will go to charity, and everybody wins.

We've got the same thing happening here in Toronto with Chris Bosh.

Although it's a little harder to be outraged at his decision to leave. Raptors aren't exactly playoff material.

Switchbreak wrote:
mrwynd wrote:

the money is for charity so it's not a cash grab.

SOME of the money is for charity. It is absolutely a cash grab, and the fact that they are trying to hide that makes it more obvious that that's all it is. This is a business deal between two large corporations (ESPN and LRMR marketing) in which both are going to get rich.

The fact that they're highlighting that X amount is going to charity is a cash grab. I don't doubt that they're hinging on the prospect that people will buy in thinking that they're helping a charity.

unntrlaffinity wrote:

So his ego seems kind of a problem of Ohio's own creation, doesn't it?

Plus, the rest of us winced when we saw that music video Cleveland people made begging him to stay. How would the guy NOT get a big ego after that?

He gets paid millions of dollars to play a game. You're asking him not to be a tool about it? Regardless of entertainment value, his very career is silly at best, asinine at worst (and yes, that does undermine all of professional sports).

This is not a man we admire for his wit, his intellect, or his contributions to humanity as a whole. We like to watch him play a game. We pay him millions to do it.

I can't imagine why people really care what he has to say, and if he wishes to take hours to say it then that's his choice.

oilypenguin wrote:

The funny thing is, if some intrepid reporter out there wants to make a name for themselves and they find out not only where LBJ is going but has the proof to back it up, where will they take it? ESPN. Do you think ESPN will air that news with a special in the works? Of course not. But they will buy the story so no one else can air it.

Fox News is reporting that his intention as of now is to sign with Miami. There are other sports sites. I use Fox sports because I really don't like ESPN much at all.

I'm not sure why anyone would watch the special. An hour long spin an how important LBJ to basketball and the world doesn't seem to interesting. And the moment he names his team, it will be on every sports and news web site in the world. there is no need to watch the show to find out where he is going, unless you really need to know this second.

I'm rooting for Chicago, just because I like Hinrich, and I'd like to see him get a shot at a title.

Edit: Didn't realize Hinrich got traded. Now i really don't care where he ends up. I guess I hope he stays in Cleveland. That would be the good thing to do.

Who?

The special does make him look like a bit of a tool, but he's LeBron stinking James. If he wants to be a tool, he gets to be a tool.

I don't think he goes to Miami; he and Wade both need to be the focus of the offense and I'm not sure I can see either one deferring to another. There has to be an alpha dog and one alpha dog only; I just can't see how those two play together. James is the best player in the world and Wade is top five, and part of a player's legacy (particularly in the NBA) is how they're able to carry a team on their back. If another truly great player is there . . . I think egos get in the way.

I'd bet he stays in Cleveland, actually.

Lebron is a brand first and a player second. I mean, he "hosted" 6 NBA teams at his corporate HQ in downtown Cleveland, where each of them had x amount of time to regal him with a presentation based on their cities, coaches and players. Enough said.

My brother sent me the following but I'm not sure who the source is:

"Let's say LeBron signs with Miami. Can you even make the Finals with LeBron, Bosh, Wade and nine minimum-salary guys? Because that might be next year's team … and if that's what happens, the answer is "no effing way." You don't win titles just because of your top three. That belittles the meaning of guys like Derek Fisher, Robert Horry, Steve Kerr, John Paxson, Brian Shaw … you could go on for hours naming role players who swung a title. The 2008 Celts lucked out by getting James Posey, Eddie House and P.J. Brown for practically nothing; Miami wouldn't have that luxury this summer, not with so many role players jockeying for contracts one year before the possible lockout. Nobody is taking less money to showcase themselves for a summer that might not happen. Even if Miami could spin Michael Beasley for a fourth guy (say, Trevor Ariza), that's still not enough. They'd need one more rebounder, point guard, a 3-point shooter and a center. Good luck."

I agree.

LobsterMobster wrote:

He gets paid millions of dollars to play a game. You're asking him not to be a tool about it? Regardless of entertainment value, his very career is silly at best, asinine at worst (and yes, that does undermine all of professional sports).

This is not a man we admire for his wit, his intellect, or his contributions to humanity as a whole. We like to watch him play a game. We pay him millions to do it.

I can't imagine why people really care what he has to say, and if he wishes to take hours to say it then that's his choice.

Quintin_Stone wrote:

Who?

And this is why this should be in the sports forum.

Maq wrote:

Am I the only person who's sick of humans being referred to as brands? Probably.

You're just sour because they dropped your brand of hoodies from all the major stores after the child-choking incident.

go Bulls.

Duoae wrote:
Maq wrote:

Am I the only person who's sick of humans being referred to as brands? Probably.

You're just sour because they dropped your brand of hoodies from all the major stores after the child-choking incident.

;)

I don't think humans being a brand is anything to get sick of. It just is. Donald Trump is a brand. Sid Meier is a brand. Heck, even Sarah Lane is a brand. these folks make a portion of their income based on how they are viewed in the public.

And yes, I mentioned Sarah Lane to see if I could summon her again.

Sarah Lane.

mindset.threat wrote:

Lebron is a brand first and a player second. I mean, he "hosted" 6 NBA teams at his corporate HQ in downtown Cleveland, where each of them had x amount of time to regal him with a presentation based on their cities, coaches and players. Enough said.

My brother sent me the following but I'm not sure who the source is:

"Let's say LeBron signs with Miami. Can you even make the Finals with LeBron, Bosh, Wade and nine minimum-salary guys? Because that might be next year's team … and if that's what happens, the answer is "no effing way." You don't win titles just because of your top three. That belittles the meaning of guys like Derek Fisher, Robert Horry, Steve Kerr, John Paxson, Brian Shaw … you could go on for hours naming role players who swung a title. The 2008 Celts lucked out by getting James Posey, Eddie House and P.J. Brown for practically nothing; Miami wouldn't have that luxury this summer, not with so many role players jockeying for contracts one year before the possible lockout. Nobody is taking less money to showcase themselves for a summer that might not happen. Even if Miami could spin Michael Beasley for a fourth guy (say, Trevor Ariza), that's still not enough. They'd need one more rebounder, point guard, a 3-point shooter and a center. Good luck."

I agree.

Some said the exact same thing about Pierce, Garnett and Allen, that seemed to work out pretty well for Boston.

The only person mad right now is TO for not thinking of this first.

My money goes on staying in Cleveland.

Barring that I bet he goes to Miami. That's a pretty amazing big 3 in Wade, Bosh and James.

Makes the eastern conference actually interesting.

mindset.threat wrote:

My brother sent me the following but I'm not sure who the source is:

That was from a Bill Simmons article on ESPN. He makes some really good points. One thing he points out that basically seals the deal that LeBron won't sign with Cleveland is that he didn't meet with Izzo when they were trying to woo him.

Because they lucked out with their role players. Right now Miami doesn't have anyone on the bench comparable. I also think comparing the Celtics to the Heat is apples and oranges. Different players, different attitudes, different maturity levels.

From Deadspin (and this sums up my feelings nicely):

I don't slow down to gawk at highway wrecks, but I'll be watching ESPN tonight. Nike nailed it: We are all Witnesses to the King. But Nike couldn't have imagined that what we would be witnessing this summer was the transmogrification of LeBron James into Idi Amin, the Last King of Cleveland.

Alea iacta est. The die is cast. Whatever James decides to do, whatever city he winds up playing in — right now, that looks like either Miami or Cleveland — he'll be defined by a megalomania that will transcend and dwarf everything else he'll ever do. The way this has played out has proved what was apparent to any fan back when LeBron wore a Yankees cap to Jacobs Field for the opening game of a playoff series against New York in 2007: He's a fundamentally stupid kid.

An hour of prime time, complete with a title — "The Decision" — could be a great goof, a Chappellesque satire. Instead, it'll be a cloying, tone-deaf puppet show, a tribute to the lunacy that James's self-mythologizing has become. I saw him tank on the court against the Celtics after years of talking about his leadership and passion for winning, and I've seen him try to rebuild his putative brand after that debacle by putting his team, town, and fans through needless hell.

You want to go? Go. You want to stay? Fine. Either way, the decision itself says less about LeBron than his conduct — on and off the court — the past two months. He's not a winner or a leader. He's just a baller from Akron whose ego has run far ahead of his talent and his smarts.

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