It's Bigger Than Basketball

How It Shakes Up the NBA

LeBron James, King of Vain: His Loss Is Kobe Bryant's Gain

Use your ← → (arrow) keys to browse more stories
LeBron James, King of Vain: His Loss Is Kobe Bryant's Gain
Doug Benc/Getty Images

Forget about "The Chosen One" or "King James."

LeBron James' contrived special on ESPN to announce his abandonment of the Cleveland Cavaliers and push his already enormous brand means he's "The Ego" until further notice.

For the record, I didn't watch the garbage (and I think I'm off the National Basketball Association for good).

In fact, I took proactive steps to avoid it. While at the gym, someone left the television on ESPN and, nauseated by merely the build-up, I changed it to anything but. The remote landed on the Versus Network's airing of the Tour de France, which seemed appropriate given I was on a bike.

Nevertheless, I've heard/read accounts of the spectacle and, for the benefit of my heart and blood vessels, I'm glad I avoided it.


The lowlights:

—"I wanted to do what was best for LeBron James. What LeBron James was gonna do to make him happy."

Oops, that's a deal-breaker right there. The third person implies some sort of massive disconnect from normal social perspective. Can any reasonable person imagine referring to themselves in the third person absent a request to do so?

I cannot.

—"It's been a unbelievable experience, a real humbling experience," in reference to the free agency process.

Dear God, can you imagine if this were true? What magnitude of arrogance are we contemplating if this circus of the bizarre humbled it?

—"The last time I changed my mind was probably in my dreams and when I woke up this morning I knew it was the right decision."

I'm not sure what to do with that. He chuckled after he said "dreams", but it didn't sound like a joke. Let's move on.

—"Well, I feel's not a super team right now. We don't even have enough players to field a roster," in reference to the Miami Heat's new triple threat and the reception it will get.

Believe it or not, LeBron actually went on to mention the custodians and people in ticket sales when talking about what it takes to build a championship team. I can understand not wanting to add to the catastrophic hype that will eventually surround the franchise, but this dude needs a crash course on when to just stop talking and step away from the mic.

I'll stop there and call myself extremely charitable because there were a plethora of other highly questionable sound bytes tucked in the squeamish interviews. Stuff like giving the impression he didn't enjoy the process despite creating it through cold calculation and impressive forethought, how he really didn't want to leave Cleveland, implying his "real" fans would stay loyal, etc., etc.

Besides, the deposed king is catching shivs left , right , center , up , down , and from behind (twice ).

Only one brave soul has realized there's money to be made on the contrarian side, and he's clearly caught up in the racial component so it's tough to take him seriously.

In other words, there's an almost unanimous voice of disgust in the wake of the Ego's Decision so I can let him skate a bit.

But not much.

Chalk up another big moment blown by LeBron James.

If Kobe Bryant is a closer, then James is a walking can of kerosene. You can call Miami's newest bauble the anti-Kobe.

Whereas Bryant has multiple NBA championships, James has a fat bagel.

Whereas Bryant has a knack for end-game mercenary tactics, that bullet point is in some doubt on James' resume. Whereas Bryant's mental fortitude and will to push his team to ultimate victory can hardly be questioned in the wake of his two most recent titles, James' own mentality must now come into serious question given the implicit white flag he just waved.

After all, we know one man can't win a ring by himself, but haven't the greatest in all the games always carried themselves as if they could?

Whereas Kobe pushed Shaq out to prove he could win as the centerpiece, LeBron fled to another alpha dog with a nice tertiary option already in place.

This last point deserves particular attention because it represents three significant observations.

First, it should be a positive for the rejected one because James most certainly chose the best place to win and could've argued that he sublimated his self-conceit to do so. Bryant, by contrast, chose the counterproductive and selfish route.

Of course, the rub is the travesty of a charade LBJ's camp hatched and ran to a tee kills the "not about me" argument while it's but a twinkle in LeBron's eye. That, and Kobe was ultimately successful in his personal crusade.

So we're left with yet another egomanical primadonna, except this one can't even back it up.


Second, James can never become the leader of the Miami Heat, which means his legacy will forever trail Michael Jordan's, Bryant's, Magic Johnson's, and probably some others. Those guys didn't do it alone, but each was The Man. LeBron won't ever be The Man in Miami.

South Beach will forever be Dwyane Wade's territory.

Remember, this stud has already delivered a championship. Arguably more endearing is the fact that he soldiered through the down period that followed. Now he's stayed true to the franchise that nurtured him, taken less money to do it, and recruited Chris Bosh plus LeBron James to bring more Heat titles.

He's essentially done what Kobe wanted to do and LeBron couldn't.


Wade also has a reputation for being a ruthless finisher in the waning seconds of a contest.

All things considered, maybe James is the anti-Flash?

Third, the location and "look at us" summer should set a siren wailing loud enough to drown out Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck.

By all accounts, South Beach is like Las Vegas with less clothing and more women. Anyone who's been to Sin City in the last year has to be staggered by that sentence—do the residents just walk around naked?

Introduce a trio of good buddies, physical specimens, and millionaires, the oldest of whom is a newly divorced 28. For good measure, toss in an apparently pathological need for attention.

If you don't buy the need for prying eyes, take a gander at Bill Simmons' recent column where he hints this shameful act might've been conjured as early as 2008. I don't generally like or read Simmons' material, but he has to one of the foremost authorities on professional basketball given his passion and access.

If Simmons is even partially right, it means all this back-and-forth was a con from the jump and the Ego's malicious handling of the city he professes to still love cannot be understated.

It also means the triumvirate that landed in Florida orchestrated the entire thing for the glorification of their profiles.

And they're about to be let loose on South Beach.

Pshaw, what could possibly go wrong?

Either way, the end result is obscene damage to James' basketball legacy because the move represents a mentality unbefitting the individual determination of the greatest greats. Furthermore, the gore is permanent because any titles LeBron James does grab will be won alongside another all-timer and a third very good player.

It will never be the Chosen One again, only the Chosen Two or Three.

Most importantly, LBJ cannot rely on sympathy when the inevitable comparisons are made to Kobe Bryant, as he could in years past.

Kobe still has the talent and the rings, but now he's got the warm cuddliness when put next to the Ego, i.e., the Los Angeles Laker comes out ahead on all fronts.

That's amazing.

As others have said, only Tiger Woods can rival LeBron James for a cataclysmic and immediate fall from grace.

Granted, Tiger only slept with 20 or 30 platinum tramps to destroy all his public goodwill.

LeBron had to screw a whole city.


**Click here to learn more about the Paralyzed Veterans of America**



Load More Stories
Miami Heat

Subscribe Now

We will never share your email address

Thanks for signing up.