On June 30, 2010, I happened to be sitting in a friend’s house at 11:59 p.m. The greatest free agency period in sports history was about to begin. We turned on ESPN to get the first look at the madness when I told my friend that an idea had just popped into my head.
A commercial would come up at 12:01 a.m. on July 1, a black background with LeBron James' face taking up most of the screen with a grayish tint. The dialogue would go something like this:
“Hi, I’m LeBron James, and the team I will be playing for next year is…”
Screen goes black. Everyone watching begins to wonder whether their power shut off. Is David James directing this? Did I sit on the remote and shut the TV off?
The Nike “swoosh” appears. “Become Legendary ” underneath.
“Damn,” my friend says. “That’s good advertising. Send it to Nike. Who knows, maybe they’ll use it.”
I go on to say how I was just kidding, and there would be no way LeBron James would ever do something like that. He seems like he is above that sort of stuff. He’s always been a class act.
He isn’t going to make a mockery of the whole free agent ordeal. Not on live television. Not to his hometown. Not to his fans. Not to the millions across the country who idolize him.
Relax, Deep breaths Cleveland. Then it happened.
On July 8, 2010, after waiting for LeBron James and being blown away by his decision, I Googled Nike’s advertising department. If they ever get back to me, I’ll pitch my new advertisement to them.
Again, a black screen, LeBron’s face in a grayish tone.
“Hi, I’m LeBron James. Since I couldn’t do it by myself, I’ll be going to South Beach to join two of the best players in the league.”
Screen goes black. Nike Swoosh appears, “Become Secondary.”
Now kids, it's alright to be secondary and share the spotlight. Perhaps it may even be the moral thing to do. But it’s not what I believed LeBron wanted.
He dreamed of being the “Chosen One," tattooed it on his back, and we gave it to him. The whole country was enthralled by the King, the Chosen One, the prophet of basketball, the bearer of the sacred number 23 (we should have known when he announced he was switching to the No. six).
He was our god among men, the face of sanity in a crazy sports world. His bright smile showed us he was having fun being the best, very similar to Ken Griffey Jr. in his prime. He showed us the joy of sports through his dunks and chalk tosses. We crowned him as King.
We gave him everything he ever wanted, all because we believed in him.
We believed he could show us that one man can do it and do it in his hometown. That one does not have to sell out. That one man could be focused on being a winner and a leader.
We believed he could show us that with enough determination, commitment, authenticity, and love for the game, that he could be the “chosen one."
That one man could fill Michael’s pair of Nikes.
We believed that’s what he wanted.
Maybe that’s just what we wanted from him.
The King is Dead…Long Live the King.