Forget Justin Timberlake, sexy might be coming back to basketball in a big way. King James or to some—like Cavaliers fans, and pretty much anywhere that failed in recruiting him—Dr. Evil, is taking it upon himself to start anew in hopes for the elusive NBA championship that has escaped him thus far. For seven years, LeBron James led the Cleveland Cavaliers through their most successful stretch in team history over the last few seasons. Unfortunately, he has also come up short in his pursuit of a championship. This past season Cleveland was sent home in the second round of the playoffs by the Boston Celtics.
There have been mixed feelings ranging from excitement to dismay, with cries of disloyalty and self preservation linked to the self-proclaimed king. From outcries of selfishness and debauchery, taking his billboard down, to jersey burnings in disgrace, emotions are running high. But is it selfish to want to succeed in your field? LeBron James was on the team for seven years as was another NBA super power: Michael Jordan, who was in the league for the same amount of time before producing a championship. The major difference though was while Jordan was a franchise player; he was given help by way of Scotty Pippen, Dennis Rodman, and Steve Kerr, while fine-tuning his game. In Utah, there was Karl Malone, John Stockton, and Jeff Hornacek. While the point guard is important, it isn’t the only position necessary to winning the game. The Lakers won three consecutive championships with Shaquille O’Neil, Kobe Bryant, Derrick Fisher, Devean George, Rick Fox, Robert Horry, and Brian Shaw. Boston Celtics have Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen. Taking it back even further, let’s look at when Magic Johnson was playing. On the team was Kareem Abdul Jabbar, James Worthy, Michael Cooper, and Byron Scott. Larry Bird had Robert Parrish, Kevin McHale, Dennis Johnson, and Danny Ainge. Development takes time but within its process, not only do you have to be continuously improving, but those surrounding you have to be improving as well. True for basketball, but also true for life.
In this fast-food society that demands results immediately without the cultivation of the craft, if it takes years to hone your specific skill set; why would it be any different for this athlete? And if a change needs to happen, why are the decisions not being respected?
Rants and all types of public misconduct have run rampant. When did disappointment give license to behaving negatively? What happened to integrity and sportsmanship? If this is our example as adults, is there really any wonder why our children act the way they do, lacking ethics, standards and decency? Not getting your way doesn’t justify the right to temper tantrums, verbal mudslinging and the like. Let us not forget the business he has brought to the city and the years he did contribute. Even if those parties disagree with James’ decision, why is it necessary to lack decency? What is it saying about these individuals’ character—as long as you do what I want, I love you but if not, I loathe you? Like school on a holiday, some of these tactics have no class.
Competition sometimes gets a negative connation, but to compete is simply two or more independent parties, expending effort in hopes of securing their position by offering the most favorable terms. There are sore losers as well as bad winners, defined not entirely by the end product, but the intent and attitude overall combined. When you compete, there is often sacrifice in order to achieving the desired result. Wanting more opportunity, advancement or to improve oneself isn’t a crime. There used to be a code of honor, beyond the mere hope of being labeled, “Winner.” I feel with this move, LeBron James demonstrates the heart of a competitor and may be getting back to the sportsmanship of the basketball and not simply having his sights set on the biggest possible financial payout. James had the opportunity for higher compensation thanks to the NBA players’ collective-bargaining agreement. The projected numbers from Cleveland offering James $30 million more than any team or rather more realistically, the Cav’s offer to LeBron, a six-year deal for $125 million was obviously considered but denied for other opportunities.
In an age where uber-materialism rules, he chose to surround himself with people with whom he built positive professional relations in effort to win. In addition to sacrificing for less money, he donated all proceeds made from the endorsements from Thursday nights to the Boys and Girls Club of America.
His motives may not be completely altruistic, but I believe them admirable. As a fan, I understand how it hurts to your core to have a beloved player leave the home team. Everything is cyclical and hopefully the basketball I loved as a little girl is returning to me as a woman—b-ballers playing for more than a paycheck. Self improvement and job satisfaction are aspects spoken of frequently in all fields, but most people stay in one place due to fear of the unknown and being comfortable. Arriving at this decision couldn’t have been easy, but I see it as being courageous. Miami most likely will not produce a championship its first year. Don’t get me wrong; if they do, great! But it takes time, like in any relationship to find that productive rhythm. LeBron James has chosen an unfamiliar path in hopes of the acquisition of a specific goal. Salivating at this year’s possibilities—Oklahoma in the West with Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Jeff Green; watching Amare Stoudemire reuniting with Mike D’Antoni on the New York Knicks … I can’t wait for the season to begin!