The Man Who Would Be King: Lessons From The LeBron-a-Thon
You can breathe again, America. Your King, LeBron James, has finally revealed where he will hold court. He is abdicating his Cleveland throne and accepting the position of cup-bearer to Duane Wade, the Sultan of South Beach.
If you, like me, tuned into ESPN's ridiculous broadcast dubbed "The Decision," then undoubtedly, you can see, like me, the handwriting on the wall. This has to be a sign of the imminent collapse of American society. Visions of Nero and nobles entangled in ghastly orgies, gorging on the delights of the flesh while their very existence crashes down like the stone walls they built to protect themselves.
That a 25 year old superstar—one that has failed to deliver a single championship in seven seasons in a league where one truly transcendent superstar is pretty much all it takes—can hold hostage the world's largest sports network, turn them into his yipping lap dog, become the talk of a nation, and cause such elation in one place and anguish in another is a clear indication that we have lost our way.
Never in the annals of American history has there been a more ego-laden, shameless display of narcissism.
What have we learned from the Summer of LeBron?
Glad you asked. We have learned a few things...
There was a time when the American ideal of hero included at least the appearance of humility. We appreciated the "aw shucks" quality of a man who seemed humbled by the attention lavished on him. We liked team players who deflected praise to the lesser beings around them, even if we all knew who really made the thing work.
Now, we seem to be just fine with a hero referring to himself in the third person, congratulating himself on turning around a team and a community, touting his own talent, and generally leading us in the worship of himself.
I know. This kind of thing is nothing new. I remember Cassius Clay, aka Muhammad Ali. I am aware of Terrell Owens. Heck, even Dizzy Dean said, "It ain't braggin' if you can back it up."
Still, it is sickening when the one whose praises are sung by millions is leading the chorus.
ABOUT ESPN AND THE STATE OF JOURNALISM IN GENERAL
They call themselves "the worldwide leader in sports," and so they are. ESPN has no peer when it comes to comprehensive sports coverage and that's a fact. Bristol, Connecticutt, the place they call home, is the epicenter of all things sports.
So, how sad was it to see four professional sports journalists interview LeBron King, listen to his self-congratulatory responses to their questions, and never, not even once, challenge him? They never once took exception to his arrogance. They never once questioned his integrity. They never once probed him about why he would make the announcement about his free agency decision on such a stage.
How could they? They had crawled into bed with him. They were there to kiss his royal ass and boy did they pucker up.
ESPN types long ago dubbed LeBron "King James" and they may as well have lowered themselves to their knees and bowed before him.
Call them LeBron's bitch. Call them sports whores. Call them pathetic. Call them ridiculous. Call them a cheap imitation of TMZ. Call them a reflection of society. Call them a sign of the Apocalypse. Call them spineless girly-men. Call them idolaters. Call them shameless capitalists.
Just don't call them journalists.
There is no challenging his talent. People have known he was insanely talented since before he hit double digits in age. That, my friend, is part of the problem. LeBron James is the pathetic Frankenstein created by sports journalists'—and the American sports fan's— need to identify the next great thing as early as possible.
I am not excusing him. I believe in personal responsibility. A spoiled rotten brat does not have to remain one. He could have grown up. He could have surrounded himself with experience and wisdom, rather than his posse. He could have sought the wisdom of someone who had an ounce of it.
He never did.
LeBron James is everything that is wrong with professional sports. He is proof-solid that making mega-millionaires of men who are barely men, men who have talent but no internal compass or integrity, men who are ill-fit to be role models or pop icons is a bad idea.
ON THE BRIGHT SIDE
Keep your eye on Stephen Strasburg.
The Washington Nationals' flame-throwing rookie pitcher responded to talk about putting him in the All-Star game by saying he did not belong there and that it would be cheating the game to put him there when he has had so few starts at the major league level.
Aw shucks. Really? C'mere. Give us a hug.
Strasburg appears to be everything LeBron will never be...
A breath of fresh air and hope for a brighter sports day.