The New York Yankees hat. The relationship with Jay-Z. Hosting Saturday Night Live. What else could LeBron do to gain New York’s affection?
New York Knicks fans were in love with LeBron, wearing custom-made jerseys, packing the Garden full of celebrities for his every appearance. LeBron would never confirm or deny his desire to move to New York, but vague comments about always loving New York would be highlighted by the media.
How did that end up working out for the Knicks?
LeBron’s recent comments regarding a return to Cleveland should be held in the same light as those made for New York. LeBron as a player and as a revenue stream is more valuable as the beloved superstar, not the player everyone would love to see fail.
“Be With LeBron” could be the unspoken reincarnation of Nike’s “Be Like Mike” marketing strategy. If LeBron could possibly come and play for your team, then maybe you’d be inclined to purchase his shoes, jerseys, or sports drinks.
This strategy worked great leading up to LeBron’s expiring contract year. Everywhere you looked, everyone wanted to know where LeBron was going to play basketball.
When LeBron stated his intentions, that strategy became null and void. Not only was LeBron not going to play for your team, but he now plays for a team that will likely beat your team.
LeBron was now the NBA’s bad guy, a role unfitting to James’ psyche.
LeBron is at his best when he’s taking imaginary pictures, farting on the sidelines, and figuring out new ways to congratulate teammates. More eloquently, James prefers dominating the opposition with a family of friends.
The pressure associated with criticism was too great for James and the Heat during last year’s NBA Finals loss to the Dallas Mavericks.
If LeBron can silence his loudest detractors now, the road to a championship will contain far less criticism from an audience who might feel justice was served by the Mavericks.
If Cleveland forgives LeBron, he has his cake and eats it too. The ring, adoration, popularity, and riches could all slowly return to the “self-appointed king.”
I for one will not relent in my aversion to James. It comes down to the realization I had during the aftermath of the Decision. All of the great times I had at Cavs games with family and friends would either be postponed for years or coming to an end.
Watching the Cavs is still enjoyable, but the draw of a winner was gone. Trips to see games during college or bringing a group together throughout the Midwest for a game would be even more difficult.
LeBron James put an end to those great times in Quicken Loans Arena for hundreds of thousands of Cavs fans so he could chase a ring in South Beach.
Be loyal to your feelings from July 8, 2010. There will be a day when Cleveland wins a major sports championship, and LeBron James does not deserve to be a part of it.