An Open Letter to LeBron James

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An Open Letter to LeBron James
Ray Amati/Getty Images

LeBron, LeBron, you had the world at your feet, you had it all.

You were the Golden Child, the high school standout that got to play for your beloved home team, the player that would lead Cleveland to success—finally after so many years, the hope of a franchise and a city.

The entire nation would marvel at your athletic gifts. We all ooohed and aaahed at your monster dunks, your chase down blocks.

We all saw you take a Cavalier team that had been floundering and quickly turn them around.

Not only did you make them into a winning team, but you made them into perennial contenders. A trip to the NBA Finals made us all start comparing you to the all-time greats. We saw your potential was starting to be realized by your incredible talent.

Cleveland loved you, NBA fans respected you, an entire nation watched you and the world was at your feet.

Quite literally, you had it all.

Here though, is where the world started to see another LeBron, not the excited young player that flashed so much promise and hope to his city, but a far different person.

The shine started wearing off "The Golden Child," cracks started showing on the facade.

You started to surround yourself with sycophants and "advisers."

You began believing all of the hype. You started looking at yourself as not simply an athlete, but an entertainer. You also started looking ahead, to a time when you might have a chance to leave town and go someplace where your status could be elevated.

Perhaps this was your biggest sin, instead of concentrating on winning games, not only games but titles, you began to address questions about leaving Cleveland. This was several years ago.

You spent three plus years talking and musing about the 2010 free agency, the chance to bail on your home town, your biggest supporters, and do what was best—not for Cleveland, not for your fans, not for the Cavaliers, but for LeBron.

Cleveland surrounded you with talent. They maxed out their salaries. They gave you every star they could to give you enough to win. They fit every piece around you and your game.

Win you did—in the regular season.

Two consecutive years your team won more games than any other team in the NBA. For two years you were crowned MVP. For two years you had as good a shot as any at winning a title.

But you never could win a title. This is where the separation begins from yourself and great players in the past.

Previously, the greats would stew in their losses, contemplate changes in their games, practice harder and do whatever it took to get to a title. We never saw this from you, the dedication to winning. The dedication to their team. The feeling that you will do whatever it takes to win—whatever and at any cost.

Instead, we saw you fail and then talk about leaving. Repeatedly.

You spoke about your marketing plans, your desire to become a billion-dollar enterprise. Your business empire. We saw everything but the dedication to win. That was lacking, the intense dedication and fire to become a champion.

Now we see clearly, it is all about you.

As you've called yourself in the third person, it's all about LeBron. It's all about marketing. It's all about branding. It's all about business. This now, we all see so very clearly.

Mostly though, it's about achieving success without working to get it: without molding your game, taking your team through battles, without the guts, without the many long hours put in to sweaty summer gyms.

It's about finding the easy way out, it's about looking for others to do the heavy lifting.

It's about sitting on your throne since you "spoil" us with your play, and leaving the heavy lifting to others.

This is your recipe for success, your way to achieve a higher level of marketability. You don't roll up your sleeves and get to work harder, you look for others to do the work for you.

We now can see how you've lied to us.

You call yourself "Chosen One", but you've chosen to serve as a role player and subservient.

You call yourself King James, but now we see you're only a prince at best (or a drama queen).

Witness? What we've witnessed is not a player leading his team, his home team, making himself a star and grinding it out as long as it takes to win. We've witnessed something far different, and like it we don't.

You waved the white flag in last year's playoffs.

You literally stood around and then as if to justify it, you spoke down to us, your fans, by uttering the classic line about spoiling us with your play.

I can't imagine Magic Johnson ever uttering such rubbish. Bill Russell. Michael Jordan. Kobe Bryant. I can't even imagine such players that have chased rings and fallen short, such as Reggie Miller, Karl Malone, Charles Barkley.

I suppose you decided not to spoil us with your Game Five performance, huh?

As baffling as it was to witness your game five performance, in one of the most important games of your and the Cavaliers history, what you've done now is worse.

Far worse.

What you've done was take egotism to a new level.

You've chosen to win, alright. But it's YOU that wants to win, not "YOUR" franchise.

This is Michael bailing on the Bulls to join the Pistons, it's Jerry West joining the Celtics, it's Julius Erving joining the Lakers and not battling through until finally beating them.

It's all about you, isn't it? There is no loyalty, just branding.

That is what makes it so easy for you to jump ship, bail out on Cleveland rather than take your hometown team eventually to the promised land.

You are blind if you don't see how this tarnishes your legacy, as trumped up as we can now see it was previously.

Perhaps though, Maverick Carter, your loyal adviser, might provide you with some new marketing angle. You can also start thinking of your next contract. Where will you go, New York? Los Angeles? Chicago?

My guess is, whatever it is that you do choose to do next, hard work and perseverance is out the window. LeBron will do what's best for LeBron, and your brand.

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