LeBron James Made a Business Decision and America Hates Him for It
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According to Wikipedia, "The Q Score is a measurement of the familiarity and appeal of a brand, company, celebrity, or television show used in the United States. The higher the Q Score, the more highly-regarded the item or person is among the group that is familiar with them. Q Scores and other variants are primarily used by the media, marketing, advertising and public relations industries."
LeBron James' Q rating placed him in the top five most popular athletes in America before his decision to leave the Cavaliers and "take his talents to Miami. Since the one-hour ESPN special to inform the world of his decision, James' "brand" has suffered a sharp decline among basketball fans and sports aficionados.
Additionally, outraged fans burned his jersey, sports writers vilified him, and the owner of the Cavaliers posted an open letter on the front page of the Cavalier's website calling his decision to seize this unprecedented opportunity to play with two amazing superstars (Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh) "a cowardly betrayal," among other character deformations.
Did James menace and sexually harass women like Ben Roethlisberger? Did he go to a club armed and subsequently shoot himself like Plaxico Burress? You could make a case for hating him just for being stupid. Did he take performance enhancing drugs like so many baseball players? NO!
He made a business decision and was unapologetic about doing what he felt was best for him. Did he make a fool of himself by doing an hour show to say one sentence? YES!
If you were 25 years old and brimming with testosterone and an entire community had talked to the media incessantly about what you might do since since you were 22 years old, would you get an overblown perception of your importance? If we are going to hate everyone who makes a fool of themselves once in a while they'll be no one left to admire.
A lot of people seem to expect team loyalty from this 25-year-old-kid who has 10 or 15 years at the outside to live his dream and find his bliss. Sports writers seem to believe they have the right to define that bliss. What no one seems to be saying is that should this young man have failed to meet the expectations of the Cavaliers they would have done what was best for their business and cut, traded, or released him with no regard for how he and his family would be affected by their decision.
Sports teams act in their own best interest whenever players are injured, get "old," or suffer a loss of confidence for whatever reason, and fans and sports writers seem to understand that it is business. However, when a player has goals and expectations that a team fails to meet and acts in his own best interest, fans feel betrayed, owners are incensed, and writers paint verbal portraits of villainous mercenaries greedily extracting every dollar. General sympathies lie with billionaire owners and fans whose loyalty waxes and wanes with a player's performance on any given day.
The "villainous mercenary" label does not fit LeBron James because he left 40 million dollars on the table to leave his home state in pursuit of his dream of winning multiple NBA championships. So this must be about his ego then, right? Wrong!
He will have to subjugate his game to fit in with Wade and Bosh if they are to be champions. He clearly understands that, having already subjugated his game to play with superstars to win an Olympic gold medal. He wants to be a CHAMPION and he is willing to loose $40 MILLION DOLLARS and put aside his own ego to do so. In a world where athletes who tell fans it is all about winning but take more money to play on lesser teams and lose, I for one, find this refreshing.
I know many of you are thinking that $40 million dollars doesn't matter when you are making $60 million. Forty million always matters. Many people think that athletes make far too much money and that may be true. However, the truth is that the money is there and people will pay any amount to be entertained by the best in the world. The athletes provide a service and they charge as much as the market will bare. This is capitalism plain and simple. That is what we do here in America.
Do we hate him because of the money? I personally would rather see that money in the hands of the people who spend their entire lives working tirelessly in pursuit of what for most is an impossible dream—those who live their lives one play, one tackle, one wild pitch, one wayward hockey stick, one errant landing, one tragic game-related mishap away from career-ending injury rather than in the hands of the person who was a billionaire when they bought a team for their personal amusement and aggrandizement.
The difference between the owner and the player is in the investment and the risk. One invests and risks their entire lives, the other, merely money as their livelihood is made elsewhere and a sports team is naught but an expensive toy. The player must adhere to the harsh reality of every athlete. Every athlete has a shelf life dictated by the inevitability of their ever-waning youth and eventual diminishing of their skills. The player gets this one shot while owners can gain and lose fortunes for a lifetime OR, they COULD simply put their billions in the bank and stand pat while making millions a year in interest.
In my opinion, LeBron James has shown a clear and present desire to be a champion beyond the money and his own ego. Most great basketball players don't learn the value that other great players around them bring (and what they need to do to meld with said players to be champions) until they get near the end of their short shelf lifes.
Being a champion by any and all legal and ethical means necessary. Seems to me this is what being an athlete is suppose to be all about.
So don't hate, appreciate.
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