On the eve of the most anticipated NBA season in history, LeBron James, arguably the top headliner from this summer, has released a new commercial via Nike entitled "What Should I Do?"
James, whose summer was well chronicled from losing in the Conference Semifinals to the Boston Celtics in May while with the Cleveland Cavaliers to making "The Decision" to join friends Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in South Beach.
The superstar, who was heavily criticized by fans and former players alike for both his decision and the way that it was presented in the now infamous hour long special, has asked the question in the commercial while seemingly acknowledging all of the criticism thrown his way.
While seemingly everyone has an opinion on James, the important question that everyone seems to be missing is "Would You Still Love Me?"
Let's say James had not left Cleveland and not made "The Decision" into such a public spectacle, then what?
What if he had returned to the same Cavalier team that had fallen short the previous two years of reaching the NBA Finals despite leading the regular season in wins?
What if James had signed a six year max deal with the Cavaliers, but had fallen short of bringing a championship to the city and had to face the concerns he brought up in the off-season (being "31 with bad knees and no rings") while he watched teams like Chicago and Miami ultimately get better with the recent upgrades over the summer?
Would we still love James? Would we still be content with making excuses for him that he doesn't have the talent around him or the right coach to help him reach the next level? Or would we treat him as we do so many of the former stars who amazed us night in and night out (Allen Iverson, anyone) but failed to bring us the one thing that separated them from the Kobe Bryant's and Michael Jordan's?
While I agree that James could have went about the way he handled his business much better, please don't let that deter you from looking at what is most important: He made the right basketball decision.
If James cared more about being a brand than a champion, he would have stayed in Cleveland and tried to bring a title to his home state team. While I am not saying the Cavaliers couldn't have won a title, I don't think anyone can tell me that a Cavaliers team with James is better than the Lakers, Celtics, or even Bulls teams that all made huge upgrades over the summer.
James' new commercial shows that he has heard the criticism. While we all may comment in posts and threads about what we would have done, the fact remains that none of us can walk in James' shoes.
There is only one way to truly justify whether or not this was the right decision, and the answer wont come until June of 2011. In the meantime, take a long look at yourself in the mirror. Think about all of your favorite sports heroes from the past who failed to deliver a championship, then ask yourself: "What Would You Do?"
(Below is a link to the aforementioned commercial)
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