Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Worst "Decision" in Sports History

I have taken the last 48 hours or so to reflect, understand and contemplate a chain reaction of events that started around 9:30 EST as Lebron made his infamous "Decision" in the most fabricated, narcissistic display we have ever witnessed on the ever deteriorating stage of sports heroes.
To place things in context I am a lifelong Boston Celtics fans, first drawn to the team by the hustle of Havlicek and Cowens, the coolness of Jo Jo White and was lifted to Basketball Euphoria when Larry Legend donned the Shamrock. The "Decision" affected me as a sports fan, not as a Cleveland Cavalier or New York Knick or any other type of fan. It's why the "Decision" was so awful. It pissed of people who weren't fans of any of the teams involved.
I was driving to Upstate NY with my wife, 2 year old daughter and my yet to be disillusioned 8 year old boy- a die hard sports nut, all 54 pounds of him . We were listening to all the hoopla, the commentary, the experts assessments on the Pre Decision shows and everyone was saying he was going to Miami. We knew it, however we were hoping he would go to the Knicks. I was hoping for my kids sake, that he would get to watch this conquering hero, the Knicks version of Mark Messier, the man that would reclaim the greatness of the City's Game to the most famous sports arena. I was also still thinking how in the world is this guy going to devastate his hometown like this on national TV.
You see, as a sports fan I want to see greatness. real Greatness. Not Kobe's 6-24 MVP trophy contrived greatness. Not Peyton Manning's Super Bowl MVP greatness. Not Bonds steroid induced greatness. Real Greatness. I'm talking Tiger at Pebble. Montana and his Super Bowl Perfection. Jeter. Larry Legend and Magic. Messier coming to NY and at his press conference saying he is coming here for one reason. To win a Cup. Anything short and it's a failure. Gretzky. And the greatest Basketball Player ever, Jordan.
Ever since watching Lebron in his first high school game live from Akron on ESPN, we were all convinced we were seeing Jordan 2.0 just like Jordan was Dr. J 2.0. We thought we were watching the NBA's next version of greatness. We watched his in his rookie year and he didn't disappoint. He continued to display his immeasurable and incomparable talents winning his MVP's taking an over matched Cavs team to the NBA Finals and 60 wins in consecutive seasons (you want to see how great Lebron is, watch the Cavs next year win 25 games with that roster). We were convinced he was the Next One. Except he wasn't. He didn't have Jordan's fire. He was more concerned about his "Brand" than his "Legacy". He liked to be the King except he didnt do anything yet to be the King. Imagine where the Yankees would be right now if Jeter thought that way?
As a sports decision, I don't like the move to Miami because it shows us that Lebron isn't cut out to be Jordan or Kobe. As a basketball fan, nothing would have been better than Lebron coming to NY. The leagues best player coming to the leagues best biggest stage to recapture the buzz. The Garden is the most electrifying arena in the world and having James play there with a championship contender would bring back the buzz we heard when Ewing and Oakley were leading the charges and when there was a real King winning scoring titles in NY. No, we would have none of that.
What we also saw was the most classless move ever done by an athlete, especially someone on the level as Lebron. What was the purpose of the show? To show the world what a class A jerk he was? And how can a born and bred Cleveland guy, with all their history, do that to the Cleveland faithful? How could he stab the back of his hometown franchise, embarrassing them on national TV like that.
 I don't blame Lebron for leaving Cleveland. Truth is, we saw what Gilbert the Cleveland owner is truly like. (before that letter, Cleveland couldn't get anyone to go there, now it will be impossible). Who would want to play for a guy like that? yes, i loved his letter but not because it was the right thing to do, but because of its pure entertainment value. The fact is, Lebron made this guy 10's of millions of dollars and he should have acted a little more classy than that. although you cant really blame the guy, especially after seeing how much he bent over backwards for Lebron while he was in Cleveland. Still, he just made Cleveland an even worse play to consider after his rant.
Lebron wants to win and deserves that right. He gave Cleveland 7 great years. Turned their franchise around from nothing to NBA elite. They weren't going to win with that squad and had no salary maneuverability to get Lebron someone legit to play with. However, he could have done it so differently. He could have held a normal press conference and thank the Cleveland fans for 7 great years and how he will never forget them, ala Gretzky when he was traded to LA. He could have even used the Decision as a saying goodbye party for Cleveand. He didn't need to have this phony build up with his paid for announcer on the fake stage of a Boys and Girls Club to make him look good. It was all so contrived. He went from the worlds most famous and liked athlete to the worlds most hated athlete. He turned me from a life long card carrying member of the I hate Kobe Fan Club to a someone who cant wait to see Kobe tear him apart on the court.
I am not upset that he went with Wade and Bosh to Miami because I think it's bad for the game, it makes Miami like the Yankees, etc. (it says here that this experiment will not go that well, especially if they don't win right away and the 3 Kings start getting pissy that they sacrificed all this money to play together- somewhere on the $15M range). I'm upset because once again as a sports fan, we were let down. Once again as a father of a sports fan, I have to once again explain to my son why these guys are not special people, just very not special people with very special talent- and it's getting very tiring. The kid is only 8 and I've had to explain why Barry Bonds might go to jail, why Arod is apologizing for doing steroids, Tiger being Tiger and how Lebron decided to rip the hearts out his hometown on national TV for no apparent reason but to feed his giant ego. I'm sick of it. I'm sick of sports doing this to you when it's supposed to be captivating and inspiring. Supposed to give you chills and dream of the possibilities. Instead I have some more explaining to do.

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