I am a HUGE fan of basketball and the NBA. It’s my favorite sport to play and watch and I follow the Lakers pretty closely. (And Laker fan or not, you gotta admit Kobe Bryant is still the best closer in the game!) So you can say that it was bittersweet when the NBA regular season began on Tuesday. Sweet for the obvious reasons, but bitter because it’ll be sucking up so much of my little free time!
Of course, one person I particularly have my eye on is LeBron James. After a very controversial summer in which he chose to join his superstar friends in Miami and devastate the Cleveland franchise, LeBron is now reaping the repercussions of his “decision.” The PR debacle ignited a gigantic whirlwind of hate and acrimony towards LeBron, the brand and person–something that he probably never prepared for or even expected. All it took was one fateful night to witness the mighty fall of a once beloved and revered king.
It didn’t take long before I saw the new Nike commercial featuring LeBron James. It was very powerful and well-made. You can watch it here below.
Some might think it’s just a clever campaign for LeBron, the brand, to regain favor from the public he’s offended. But I think there’s something deeper. I think LeBron, the person, is truly hurt from all the backlash and negativity. I think he is really wondering what he can do to salvage “The Decision” and make people understand his situation. Because, at the end of the day, LeBron James really cares about what people think.
I am a big fan of LeBron James. I’ve always admired the way he played the game–passionately and unselfishly–and his personality on and off the court. Granted he might be a little into himself, but he seems like an overall likable guy. The Decision was a poor one, and I’m sure in hindsight he’d want the chance to do that one over. But I’m amazed at all the heat–no pun intended–one guy has taken over something that didn’t involve any sort of criminal or suspicious activity.
I wish he would have stayed in Cleveland. As intriguing as superteam basketball might be, it would have meant so much more for him to win one championship in Cleveland–and bring a title to a city that’s been without one for almost half a century now–than to win five in Miami. It would have gone down as a great story. (Maybe that’s just the Literature major in me speaking.) But with that being said, I don’t think his decision to go to Miami was wrong. At least, it isn’t so black and white–in other words, 100 percent right or wrong. He wasn’t about the money–he left at least $30 mil on the table, and he didn’t force or demand a trade–he was an unrestricted free agent who had the right to go wherever he chose. Often times we lambaste athletes for being all about the money or being whiners, but this is the one time someone actually chose a situation that would provide him the best opportunity to win championships and play with his closest friends. Shouldn’t we applaud players for doing what it takes (without cheating) to win?
But maybe we’re mad because it seems a little heavy-handed. Maybe we’re mad because this seems like an easy out or because we had different ambitions and expectations for LeBron James than he has for himself.
But LeBron needs to be himself, and not conform to what others say he should be. The Decision was made in poor taste, but it’s done and over with. Now we should just let the brotha play basketball.