The Decision for Dummies: A Case Study Analyzing The Unethical Lebron James

Rich FernandesCorrespondent ISeptember 21, 2010

GREENWICH, CT - JULY 08:  LeBron James and ESPN's Jim Gray speak at the LeBron James announcement of his future NBA plans at the  Boys & Girls Club of America on July 8, 2010 in Greenwich, Connecticut. James announced during a live broadcast on ESPN that he will play for the Miami Heat next season.  (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Estabrook Group)
Larry Busacca/Getty Images

Everyone has heard of those guides for dummies that help people understand a specific subject.  They come in a wide range of subjects such as:  Gardening for Dummies and Software Programming for Dummies.  I think there’s even a Rocket Science for Dummies.  They are an excellent learning tool to take a convoluted topic and break it down in an understandable way.  The decision was indeed controversial since many people still don’t realize how ethically wrong and unprofessional it was.  So for those of you who still don’t quite comprehend, this is the Dummies Guide to The Decision.

The Lebron James debacle began taking shape a few months ago and had every sports fan waiting in anticipation of his majesty’s decision.  We don’t need to look too far to see the reaction of sports writers across the country.  Check out the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, U.S.A. Today, and of course the Cleveland Plain Dealer to get a taste of the scathing commentary used to describe Lebron James’ juvenile and amateurish production.  Fans in Cleveland NY, NJ, LA, and Chicago were fuming over Lebron’s rejection because they felt played, and rightfully so.  They were all left in the dark till the 11th hour, and for what?  To discover that Lebron had Miami on his mind all along? 

Why was The Decision so ethically wrong?

First and most important is HOW, WHEN, and WHERE Lebron made his decision and NOT that he made a decision.  We all saw it for the low class shocker that it was.  He dumped his own team on national television like an ex-girlfriend.  Even a Boston Celtic fan like me could not get over this egotistical and most unintelligent display that has become an insult to the entire NBA and its fans.  Lebron says, “it’s a business” when asked for his reaction (during the Lebron James Special) to the burning of his jersey, but the shock on his face spoke volumes.  It may be a business, but he bathed in the glory of his loyal fan base and he fanned this emotional fire.  This fan base existed on a national level (like Jordan’s and Tiger’s), and not just in Cleveland. 

The national fan base adopted the Cav’s as their second team behind their home team.  Another team to cheer for while they supported their hero spawned a loyalty to the Cav’s, even though the majority of this national fan base live nowhere near Cleveland.   James had the same national following that Jordan enjoyed with the Bulls.  All of a sudden we’re expected to dump our adopted team?  We can’t even cheer for them anymore because the real reason we did in the first place was because of Lebron.  Are we supposed to just adopt the Miami Heat now?  I don’t think so.  Lebron wanted our adoration, and he most definitely enjoyed his limitless celebrity status which could be envisioned through his circus acts including powder throwing and bowling his teammates down.  His countless fans loved him for being the next best thing to Michael Jordan and a savior to the NBA.    

So unlike the executives at Coca-Cola, whom when they bolt to Pepsi we don’t care because we still get our coke, sports fans are emotionally tied to their stars and we expect to be respected for that loyalty.  After all, they are getting very rich from our support.  Intelligent sports fans do not want their stars to paint themselves as angels (like Tiger Woods for example) only to learn that he was leading a double life and fooling us with his whole ethical persona.  Even worse, we do not expect a star to dump his team on national TV in the egotistical and gutless manner in which James did.  He should have told Cleveland first, so Gilbert’s reaction was refreshing to see.  Owners should be more out-spoken towards these spoiled athletes.  Chris Bosh did the same thing in Toronto.   These two should have thanked their fans for their loyal support, and explained to them it was time to move on in a respectful way.  Common sense courtesy (a no brainer PR move) would have helped mitigate the moves by both men and reduced the stinging backlashes.  Instead, both James and Bosh teased their own fans with their possible exits before checking out.  Not even a “goodbye it’s been swell.”  These fans had to learn about it through the media.  Did their loyal fan base deserve their disdain after paying each athlete over $16 million in annual contract earnings?  Who could argue with this point?   

What I’m saying here is not rocket science, so you don’t have to buy the Rocket Science for Dummy’s to understand this simple message.  How did heat fans feel when Shaq took a classless dump on Miami (through undignified comments) before heading to the Suns?  It’s not about Cleveland and Toronto Haters anymore… because the whole country hates the Heat.  Why?  Because of HOW these 2 stooges behaved.  Wade is the only one of the three that has conducted himself with any kind of class.

If Michael Jordan did this before he won a championship… well then he would not be Michael Jordan.  In the same way, I don’t see how this MJ imposter will ever approach Michael Jordan now.

In the future, higher education courses in public relations and sports management will analyze "The Lebron James" case called The Decision, to illustrate how the lack of ethical judgement can highly impact a career.  A comparative analysis will be made using Tiger Woods.  With any common sense, you should ace this case.  But if you lack common sense, you should study this guide:  The Decision for Dummies.