LeBron James, ESPN to Air "The Decision": Obnoxious Summer of Me Reaches Climax
In some circles, this has already been a terrible summer for LeBron James.
Just typing that sentence will bring down the thunder because the Chosen One's most loyal followers will always love him unconditionally and be in the majority.
But not all of us keeping at least one eye on the National Basketball Association feel that way.
Many of us can only stomach so much ego and self-conceit before even the most superlative athletic abilities are not enough to merit admiration. They are only athletic abilities, after all.
King James should know this.
One of the best cagers to ever lace up high-tops repulsed people because he insisted on making a team game all about an individual and an unsympathetic one at that.
By contrast, LeBron's substantial self-infatuation was largely ignored because he shared the rock, made those around him better, said most of the right things, and still managed to put all his excellence on regular display.
Basically, the Cleveland Caveliers' would-be savior carried on like the ideal global icon.
That was then.
Ironically, Bryant's popular star is soaring thanks to the recent championships won by trusting his Los Angeles Laker teammates.
Meanwhile, James' twinkler may be losing steam thanks to self-inflicted wounds.
Those cynics who said LeBron's plan was always to make the Summer of the Free Agent in the NBA all about the class's crown jewel are looking rather prophetic at the moment.
I don't think anyone expected the best hoopster on the planet to honor a July 5th deadline he apparently set for himself, but what we're getting after the three-day delay is absurd even by modern, celebrity-obsessed standards.
The three-ring circus these divas were running was already bad enough.
It was barely tolerable hearing how the shiniest trophies of the free agent crop were holding summits, as if discussing international climate or trade concerns.
Or how they were demanding their franchise-suitors come to them to make a pitch.
Or how we were held hostage by the incessant and inescapable updates regarding the latest so-called development, which was unfailingly no more than mere speculation fueled by an anonymous source.
Mark me down for a big, fat yawn. To all of it.
And now this.
C'mon, an hour-long special on ESPN hosted by everyone's favorite intrepid reporter, Jim Grey, just to announce where one man will play alongside four others?
Really? Sixty minutes devoted to a five-second blast of information? How seriously can a single human take itself?
Now, I understand the "funds" generated by the event will be donated to the Boys and Girls Club of America .
Furthermore, the announcement and subsequent interview will be hosted by the BGCA in Greenwich, CT so the moment will carry with it the less tangible benefit of increased visibility.
No matter how illusory the motivation may be, those are commendable gestures.
However, let's not play the babe in the woods here.
This isn't being sold as "LeBron James' Special Boys and Girls Club Hour" for a reason.
This is about extending and maximizing the King's moment in the spotlight, a glare he now commands by his lonesome since the other gems of the sweepstakes are off the board.
Amar'e Stoudemire, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh have all aired their choices so the b-ball world waits on LeBron.
Which was clearly the plan all along—draw the moment out in order to absorb every bit of attention possible before common sense threatens to destroy the whole thing.
That's fine except the dude already LIVES in that bright circle and has his entire adult life.
Honestly, the 25-year-old has been on the cover of national magazines since his junior year of high school.
He knocked off Slam, Sports Illustrated , and ESPN The Magazine before he could vote.
Once he graduated to the professional ranks, the exposure has only gotten wider and more voluminous.
The guy could quite literally spend his every waking nanosecond on a television interview circuit.
If he were so inclined, I'm sure one of the networks would give him his own show to do whatever he damn well pleased—ESPN would probably give him the Sportscenter desk if he asked.
I promise you my man can't walk down any city street without drawing a crowd of back-slappers and well-wishers.
So how much adulation and adoration is enough?
More ominously, what happens if the Chosen One doesn't get it?
To me, this almost psychotic need for attention screams of personal insecurity that registers a staggering magnitude.
We're talking self-esteem issues that would make a coked-out stripper/escort whose step-father had boundary issues count her psychological blessings.
Heretofore, James' unsavory side has been overlooked because he's been playing the white knight for a city that desperately needs one. He's been tragically heroic in trying to turn a perpetual underdog into a winner.
Consequently, all will be forgiven if he stays in Cleveland and the summer's unfortunate memory will fade before the ink on the new contract dries.
The love will be national and unqualified once again.
If LeBron James jumps ship, though, if he compounds his egomaniacal summer by abandoning the one crusade that still draws the unattached masses to his side, then that much of that love will disappear.
Resentment will take its place.
And what happens then?
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