“LeBron is now the guy you openly root against. If he leaves Cleveland tomorrow night, he’ll have needlessly strung along an entire fanbase and given them the middle finger by making their breakup spectacularly public. If he stays, he’ll have spent two years cockteasing the rest of the world about going somewhere else when he probably never wanted to leave Ohio to begin with. There’s no end result tomorrow that makes LeBron a sympathetic figure. He’s already gone past the point of no return. He’s a cocksucker. Fitting that his most memorable career moment will come when he doesn’t even take a fucking shot. He’s a guy that cares more about the end result of playing basketball – massive, unending adulation – than he does actual basketball.”
-Drew Magary, Associate Editor, Deadspin
Amidst a sea of hoopla, this is the truest piece of writing I’ve read about the so-called “Decision” of basketball superstar and free agent, LeBron James. Honestly, do I even need to recap it for you? After months of hype, the 25-year old athlete pimped his former team, and in some respects most everyone else, by staging a media spectacle to announce he would be playing for the Miami Heat next year. ESPN hosted the event, knowing it would be a heavily watched affair, which it was.
I don’t have the numbers and, frankly, I don’t give a shit. Yes, I looked in, while cooking an omelet. I felt a little like a ghoul slowing down to observe a train wreck. Only this was more weird than painful. The first 15 minutes had ESPN doing obligatory montages and panel discussion. Then came the King himself, sitting uncomfortably amidst a group of bewildered and silent members from the Boys and Girls Club of Connecticut. Connecticut? ESPN Silverback, Jim Gray fed the King grapes for questions before finally asking for and getting the “Decision.” To paraphrase LeBron: “I’m going to be taking my talents to South Beach.”
At this point the world more or less began disliking LeBron James, many of us for the first time. Not only did he make a garish choice in Miami but he also made it garishly. Despite fronting for charity, the “Decision” felt completely narcissistic. When James told Jim Gray he did what he did because it gave him “the best chance at being happy” I cringed. In other words, then, making 100 million dollars to play for the Knicks, Bulls or his hometown Cavaliers would not make him happy? What a totally self-absorbed thing to say. Asinine too. You’d think his handlers or “posse” would have told him better. Or what about his beloved mom in Akron? She should have hit him upside his head for making a damn fool of himself. No doubt she thinks her son is the Messiah as well.
As the Deadspin piece articulates so well, LeBron has become a villain. The TV event actually reminded me of those staged interviews where the good guy wrestler suddenly goes ballistic, turning into a villain. But that’s fakey bullshit. LeBron and ESPN took themselves seriously. So, it’s serious bullshit.
With the “Decision,” LeBron James jumped the shark and he took his brand with him. Do we really want to watch LeBron and his Super Friends run the table? Maybe for some. But for me it will only be fun if they lose. And even that would get depressing. I’m afraid, whether LeBron wins or loses on the basketball court, he’s already bombed miserably in the court of popular opinion.