The Behind the Scenes Villain: LeBron James Fiasco Is Not His Fault
When Chad Ochocinco is the voice of reason, it means something.
The oft-volatile Cincinnati Bengals receiver told The Dan Patrick Show : "I wouldn't really blame it on LeBron. I would blame it on the media. I would blame it on the outlets that allowed it to happen. If you weren't going to like it, then you don't watch it. It is what it is. LeBron did what was best for him."
It means the media, in all its self-indulged glory has failed its purpose and, in turn, became the root of the problem.
ESPN, national columnists, and analysts reduced their roles in objectivity into pampered, wanna-be fortune tellers who simply guessed the wrong NBA metropolis.
This is not about LeBron spurning and burning northeast Ohio and adding to its list of epic sports sorrow. It's not about the media-dubbed "King" heading to South Beach to form a three-headed superstar conglomerate under the microscope of The Hair (Pat Riley).
This is about something more underground and not all that tapped into, quite yet. Ever since James busted onto the scene in 2003 as a lanky 18-year-old that was appointed the savior of a league rank with mundane play and a one-sided dynasty in Hollywood, he was doomed.
Cavs owner Dan Gilbert threw a fit that would make the most feisty and howling infant green with envy. He said LeBron quit against the Celtics. Did he? Who knows. At this point, it's pointless to argue something so inconsequential, Dan.
What is at the center of this uncontrollable hurricane of subjective analysis and harsh comments is the two-time MVP himself.
It's LeBron. Not James. It's Kobe. Not Bryant. It's Shaq. Not O'Neal.
We don't call Dwyane Wade by his first name. We don't call Dwight Howard "Dwight".
LeBron James is the product of the professional environment he was raised in. Enabled by any and every person he came across—the media included—the titled "Chosen One" made a living above the rim and as the poster child of the new era of the Association.
As the nuke was dropped Thursday evening, LeBron pulled off something only he could in professional sports, and so successfully. He broke millions upon millions of hearts with two words: South. Beach.
So much for Jay-Z. There'll be no HOV entourage for LBJ. So much for MJ's footsteps and so much for taking a proverbial bite out of the nation's grandest city, New York.
To be honest, Cleveland never stood a chance, and why should they?
For years Gilbert surrounded James with mediocrity and the physical specimen that is LeBron took the Cavaliers to heights unimaginable by himself. It was Ricky Davis. It was Wally. It was Big Z. It was Donyell Marshall. Danny Ferry was calling the shots, for crying out loud.
This is not a puff piece saying that LeBron in all his greatness and his aspirations to be a bazillionaire extraordinaire athlete is the victim, because it's not. He's not.
It's about stripping away all the manure that became attracted to this pro athlete along the way and weighed down the process and the game itself for years and years.
How can a man that's been enabled his whole professional life be held to a standard different from others? You try and tell me if Kobe or Shaq had come into the league when James did, that they wouldn't be expected to do the exact same and have some absurd one-hour ESPN special?
James became more than just a huge dude on the court that had Maserati speed and Herculean strength, to boot. He became global. And how did he become global? Your Bill Simmons', your Michael Rosenberg's, your Kevin Hench's all took a proverbial toke on the LeBron bong.
What, did they want him to stay in Cleveland and transform the Cavaliers into a global powerhouse where hundreds of countries tune in and worship every dribble?
It's a reoccurring theme among journalism these days—with the birth of social networking, blogs, TV spots, radio, etc., the media has outlets up the Wazoo river.
Fans are allowed to harbor anger, because after all, sports are emotional and people usually get way too into it and make unbelievably rash decisions for something so trivial. Something they can't exactly see or touch.
In all reality, so many pundits—mainly the ones tattooed all over ESPN—are walking, talking contradictions just like so many pro athletes. The main stipulation being that most couldn't drain a three-pointer to save their family.
As they sit on their royal seats on high, they exude something that is so conflicting that you have to wonder if sports journalism has simply turned into a counter-argument from the overused, stereotyped female diet of soap opera's and gossip magazines.
Your prototypical "NBA insiders" are guys that make phone calls to front offices and report the first they hear and hope and pray for lightning in a bottle on their respective websites.
LeBron is being taken to the woodshed by so many of these experts for a decision he felt was the right one to make.
Who are we to judge what he does? Before making dinner every night, would you like to have LeBron on speed dial to ensure you've made the right decision? How about Bill Plaschke or Woody Paige even?
There used to (supposedly) be a curtain of impartiality when it came to the world of sports journalism, but as of late it seems to be drowning at the hands of such one-sidedness.
People critical of James' decision to take the "easy road" with two other high-caliber players should look in the mirror and try to take a road less traveled in terms of their seething words of acid-filled content.
After perusing the World Wide Web, I found two articles that did not condemn James to the deepest depths of Hades for his decision to run with Wade and Chris Bosh. Only two. The rest were filled with the same old boring brouhaha that came with the following. One columnist related LeBron's swift exit from Cleveland to Benedict Arnold.
The decision that broke Twitter, swamped Facebook and crushed so many, did raise the hearts of some; a select few Miami Heat fans. A fan base that didn't bother showing up for the past three years.
They're excited. They have a reason to be. They have a greased-hair genius sitting behind the desk and three of the best players in the league coming together to try and revolutionize the NBA.
Another untouched populace as guilty as the media are the fans. The fans that expect that they'll be treated fairly and with just cause by these gazillionaires. As Cavs fans performed their up-close-and-personal riots on their driveways, burning No. 23 jerseys, it proved a few things.
1. LeBron was the true heart and soul of the state of Ohio.
2. A city that cannot catch a break got another deuce dropped on it.
3. Finally, a fan base so unrealistic to see the writing on the wall finally had to accept the lethal injection that had just been muttered to Jim Gray.
Authenticity is a cruel thing and the reality of this situation is, the media are ridiculing and spitting on the new No. 6 jersey of LeBron James because they think he cheated, half-assed or should have stayed home because it was the "right thing to do".
Truth is, there is no "right thing", only gut feeling. Every decision you make at the time is the right one.
In a time of such self-involved, overpaid superstars in professional sports, three guys that meddled in mediocrity for so long decided to try something new. Rather than following the status quo of the solo glistening star on one team griping, demanding a trade, waiting, griping some more and finally rescinding the demand did not fall in line here.
Did Miami tamper with James, Wade and Bosh? You can bet your behind they did, but go ahead and try to tell me straight-faced that the other 29 teams in the NBA didn't or haven't before. I dare you.
The fact of the matter is that the media turned on its shining golden boy the moment he took seven days to make an announcement that would shake the foundation of David Stern's league.
You didn't see the media harping on Carlos Boozer, Wade or Bosh for taking six.
Why didn't they burn Kyle Korver at the stake for waiting so long?
Today's media is as bad, if not worse than, these pampered professionals because for so long they've portrayed themselves as something we've learned they're not.
Perfect. Reliable. Accurate. Fair. Objective.
LeBron earned much more enemies this past week than friends and that's a given. But you can bet the two biggest fan bases that despise the "King" now are: Cleveland and the (media) field.
Rather than trying to find an uncovered story that inspires or open eyes or drops jaws, they, just as they criticized LeBron, have jumped on the bandwagon.
Just as they turned on Kobe and Tiger, LeBron is now resting in the cross-hairs and has no wiggle room in south Florida.
Not that he ever did in the first place, doomed from the very start.
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