I’m not mad at LeBron for ditching his home town. But then again, I didn’t have any vested interest in where he was going. Whether he went to Chicago (my pick, which has been rumored to have been a close second), New York or to Clipper Nation, it didn’t matter to me. Really, the move only affects the people of Cleveland.
Sure, we were all fixated on the free agency for months, with each person offering their own insight into what they thought — or what they absolutely knew — LeBron would do, come July 1. However, the greater U.S. population cared much less as soon as he said “South Beach.” On a side note, does anyone in South Beach actually care about anything but topless sunbathing, partying at the Clevelander (ironic name, isn’t it?) or watching endless re-runs of “The Golden Girls?”
In Lebron’s decision, the thumpin’ and bumpin’ nightclubs and magnetic draw of upbeat Miami beat out the home cooking of the self-proclaimed “Sixth City,” whatever the heck that means. “The Decision” does not sit comfortably with many, but in the end, it was one that LeBron had the right to make.
Because of his love and loyalty to the state of Ohio and all the people in it, I do not believe that he would have announced his decision as he did without the LRMR marketing squad squawking in his ear. However, I am not letting Bron-Bron off the hook completely, as I believe he really did want to go to Miami.
As I was watching the nonstop LeBron-a-thon coverage over the past couple of weeks, a couple of things dawned on me. First, watching LeBron and the Clevelandettes prance around the basketball court doing little dances, super-duper great secret handshakes and Ashton Kutcher-style pranks suggests that LeBron just wanted to be part of the pack.
He never wanted to be the leader. He thrived amid the company of others, and did his best when he was playing with not only teammates, but his friends. There is a reason he refers to his high school years as his glory days.
In so many ways LeBron is a “me-first” kind of guy, as shown by his 15-minute postgame interview when he referred to himself in the third person about five times. However, on the basketball court, he often takes the opposite approach. His pass-first mentality mirrors Magic Johnson’s game more than MJ’s or (shudder) Kobe’s. LeBron’s move to Miami proves that the game is all about the fun. It’s just a bummer that LeBron the person can’t be as unselfish.
I do hate comparing Kobe to LeBron, or Kobe to Jordan, or Jordan to LeBron or any combination of those three players being compared. It’s phooey. Stupid. Each player is his own player. One may have accumulated a higher assist average than the other, whereas the other had a better shooting percentage, but less rebounds, etc. No matter the statistics, the fact of the matter is that LeBron will never have that killer instinct or that unrelenting drive that kept, and continues to keep, players like Kobe and Jordan up at night.
Kobe and Jordan have a combination of confidence bordering on cockiness, determination and talent to make them great, to make them want to be the leader. LeBron may have the talent, but he isn’t a leader. His move to Miami, D-Wade’s city, shows not only a reluctance to put the game on his shoulders, but a lack of desire to be in the same conversation as the other greats.
In the end, LeBron wanted that burden lifted. Dwayne Wade lifts that burden. LeBron may win championships, but joining Miami was LeBron’s way of giving up the throne that could have someday been his and his alone. As a basketball fan with no vested interest in Cleveland and its sports teams, LeBron’s move to Miami is sad not just because he left behind die-hard fans for a beach party, but also because we learned who LeBron really is.
Perhaps our disappointment is our own fault. Maybe we shouldn’t have tried to make a follower — albeit a really awesome one — into a leader. Even so, next season will be fun, no matter how it plays out.
We learned a lot this free-agency season about the true nature of coddled sports stars, and perhaps we were reminded of the pitfalls of turning professional athletes into role models. However, we ultimately learned one thing from the whole Miami fiasco: the King has left the building.