LeBron James is ruining the NBA.
The Champion of Me signing with the stacked Miami Heat proved to be the ultimate act of cowardice for someone who’s reputation will never again be the same.
In a classless move – holding an hour-long ESPN special entitled “LeBron James: The Decision” where he’d announce his signing publicly for the world to see (which garnered 9.95 million viewers, making it the third-most-watched program on cable television this year), LeBron decided to join fellow Team USA members Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade in Miami for the 2010-11 season. All three signed 6-year deals worth nearly the max amount.
What irks many the most is the way LeBron handled his free agency. LeBron promoted it through several days of self-promotion and teasing, building up to the point of a national spectacle in the form of a TV “decision” unlike anything “WITNESSED” in the history of professional sports. Doing this was an example of how unprofessional and classless LeBron is. He had the opportunity to come clean and be direct and upfront about his intentions. Rumours flew that he was having dinners in Miami; that he purchased a $43M estate in the area. But rather, chose to tease the world with his childish and silly antics.
Many great players – something LeBron considers himself – go from a weak team, build up over the years, and become championship contenders through signings, draft picks and development. A real champion sticks with his team through thick and thin, through the good and bad, often beginning at rock bottom before climbing their way to greatness. Flat out, LeBron selfishly betrayed the Cavs and bailed on their fans. He performed the ultimate act of cowardice in the most publicly-humiliating way possible.
“I’m taking my talents to South Beach,” James said. South Beach? That’s not even an NBA team. What are you, in high school? His hometown of Cleveland won’t hate him as much for leaving the Cavs as for the way he left them. Leaving never would’ve been easy, but he went out of his way to humiliate them, rubbing salt on an open wound. LeBron James will never be welcome home now.
Take Kobe Bryant for example. He was the sidekick in the Shaq/Kobe tandem. The Shaq left. Together, they won 4 rings with the Lakers, and following their first year without Shaq, everyone began saying that Kobe couldn’t win without Shaq. And what happened? Kobe won two rings. LeBron believes that he’ll be the next Michael Jordan by winning a handful of rings with his new teammates. He’ll be sorely mistaken.
Even if LeBron gets lucky and wins a few championships, they’re not his: they’re Wade’s. LeBron can’t do it by himself. Whether he really can or can’t, we’ll never really know, but until he can accomplish it with him as the centrepiece of the team, they’ll never be his rings. His 6 rings versus anyone else’s will always pale in comparison to theirs. LeBron will have forever sold out. His betrayal – something Michael and Kobe would never have done – will never be forgotten.
LeBron’s ego has become incredibly inflated. Aside from his individual faults during this process, LeBron took the cowards’ way out by joining Wade and Bosh in Miami. Never, in any other league, would a summit like this ever happen. You’d never see Jordan, Iverson, Bryant and Shaq all on the same team. The NHL would never see Sidney Crosby, Alexander Ovechkin and Roberto Luongo discuss where they’ll be signing in the offseason. The MLB will never see Albert Pujols team up with Alex Rodriguez and Roy Halladay. The NFL will never see Peyton Manning sign with Randy Moss, Terrell Owens and Chris Johnson. There’s too much self-respect and dignity in other leagues.
Not only that, but the NBA has become ridiculously lop-sided with the Super Best Friends signing on the same team. The Heat already have 9-5 odds of winning the NBA Championship, and the clear-cut best team in the West are the Lakes. The trio signed 6-year deals. I think you know where I’m going with this.
“This whole idea that he makes his own decisions, that [bleep] went out the window with this,” one NBA executive said. “Someday, he’s going to look back at this and not believe that he let those kids at LRMR talk him into doing this. This idea that he’s his own man … Come on, he’s a follower. And he’s following all the way to Miami now.”
It’s only fitting that LeBron’s “Decision” program was splitscreened by a shot in Cleveland where Cavs’ fans were burning LeBron jerseys. That’s exactly how the rest of the league and the rest of the world view this self-loathing individual’s public image.
“His brand is [bleep] now,” one high-level NBA official said late Thursday. “He’s destroyed everything.”
Marc Valeri – email@example.com
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