The Demonization Of LeBron James. PAY Attention!!!!!!! Says Maverick Carter
“If LeBron were an IPO, I’d buy it … At 21, I wasn’t remotely as mature as LeBron.” — Warren Buffett
Now that the NBA season is over, I have taken a moment to reflect. The lasting memory is not of the glorious success of the Mavs. It is of LeBron James and the season-long media/fan obsession with seeing him and the Heat fail. As one weary sportscaster put it, “We discuss LeBron as if he was our media Facebook status.”
It occurred to me that if all I knew about someone is that he announced a job move and staged it so that $2 million in cash would be donated to the Boys and Girls Club of America, my first reaction would probably be, “Now there’s a person with media savvy who is also a good person at heart.” Add the fact that the donated cash was virtually all the advertising revenue from that single event and I would feel reassured it was not just a ploy for disguised greed. If I further discovered that another $1 million in computers and Nike equipment was spread among eight Boys and Girls clubs – most notably Akron, and Cleveland, I would feel even better about the donor who gave back something significant – not just empty words and a wave – to the cities he was raised and was employed.
But if I knew nothing more, I would probably scratch my head about why the network that aired the announcement only made a minor footnote of the $3 million chartable aspect of the event. And I would scratch my head again if the donor is primarily blamed for the event, when the worst part about it was the publicity, controlled by the network. If I took a moment to reflect, I would say, “Wait a minute. ESPN controlled the sickening number of promotional ploys leading up to the decision. Only ESPN could create the hype because only ESPN controls the airspace.” Then I would say, “For all I know ‘The Decision’ was ESPN’s title.” Clearly, ESPN made the decision to announce the upcoming decision over and over again, day and night as if it was the second coming of Jesus Christ, instead of the second team for King James. Yet, the demon as crowned by the media was James, not the media itself. This was the beginning of the demonization of LeBron James.
So let’s add a few other facts. The City of Cleveland and the donor’s prior employer had the benefit of his services for seven years. During that time the employer’s product (a team) went from mediocre-at-best with a half empty arena to a team on the verge of being the best in the world with a frenzied sold-out arena. The owner made millions. The local economy grew by millions per year. Yet the employee who is leaving didn’t say anything bad about the City before he left. In fact, he said he loved them and he understood their frustration. His kind words came despite knowing they were burning his uniform in effigy and creating as much venom as their imagination could muster.
In response to the employee’s resignation, the employer’s principal owner called him a “coward”, who was “selfish” and one who committed an act of “betrayal” for exercising his lawful right to pick a new employer. Objectively, on those facts, I hope we would all conclude that if the employee gave up millions of dollars in pursuit of a championship, that kind of selfishness is not so bad. The reprehensible selfishness would have been demanding all the money he could get even if it hurt the teams salary cap – financial stability.