I'm a Cleveland Cavaliers fan. Furthermore, I'm a Cleveland sports fan. For those of you reading this who don't passionately root for an NBA team or outside of Northeast Ohio, I don't expect you to understand our disgust with LeBron James.
James is one of us. He grew up in our backyard. We rooted for this kid when he was still in grade school.
We watched his games on television when they were covered by local channels before ESPN had a clue who he was. He understood what the region was going through economically because he went through it himself. He knows what it means to Cleveland fans when you mention: The Drive, The Fumble or The Shot.
And he chose to manufacture the latest addition to the mix: The Decision.
LeBron James had every right to leave Cleveland. He had every right to play wherever he wanted to play. It's also very clear that James was never taught, nor has any clue what the word "tact" means.
Tact is defined by Dictionary.com as: "a keen sense of what to say or do to avoid giving offense; skill in dealing with difficult or delicate situations."
However you wish to define it, it's a measure of character and class. An evolutionary trait that separates man from boy.
James' commercial is the latest installment in the "I don't get it," volume of professional athletes. The latest work from a field elite in pay, but void of character.
Too drunk of their own arrogance to see that in the grand scheme of society, dunking a basketball is not that remarkable of a contribution. Too detached to realize that the pillar of fame and fortune on which they stand, was built by the fans.
To the people who argue that he doesn't owe anyone an explanation, I disagree. To whom much is given, much is expected.
I don't want to hear the excuse that he is young. I don't want to hear that we all make mistakes. For the self proclaimed "Chosen One," it would be nice for him to remember that 'chosen' indicates it wasn't your decision to become great, but rather a collective decision to anoint you.
All indications point to the collaboration of James, Wade and Bosh deciding to play together as far back as 2006. The only question was where. LeBron went from city to city injecting the fan base with hope and optimism.
A little smile on his face reserved for each destination that made each city think: "He is coming to play for our team!"
In New York he preached his love for the city. He referred to it as the Mecca of professional basketball.
In New Jersey, he was high-fiving Jay-Z and there was talk of the Brooklyn Nets being built on the shoulders of LeBron.
When Joakim Noah trashed Cleveland, LeBron responded by talking about his idol Michael Jordan and how fond he was of Chicago.
Back home, he spoke of his heart and soul being in Ohio.
It would be valuable for LeBron to have realized that when the President is elected, half the country votes against him. If you act like a politician and operate free agency like a political campaign, don't be surprised when half the country hates you when it's all said and done.
James held the Cleveland Cavaliers organization hostage all summer knowing full well he was not coming back. He made an entire city and region of hard-working Clevelanders stay up until nearly 10 p.m. on a work night to collectively break their hearts.
By the time the dust had settled, all available free agents had already landed elsewhere, leaving the organization with no chance to sign another player. This basically guaranteed a losing season for 2010.
He never even discussed his decision with Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert. He didn't even tell him face-to-face. The Cavaliers owner did not find out James was leaving until a business associate of James called Gilbert at 9:01 p.m., approximately 30 minutes before the announcement was made that he was skipping town. He didn't even call himself.
After the fallout following the announcement, James still could not admit he made a mistake. Instead rationalizing the nationwide backlash on racism. Really?
I remember reading his comments about racism only moments after screaming at my television for the Browns to replace Jake Delhomme with Seneca Wallace.
You can imagine my shock in realizing I was racist, as I screamed for our coach to replace a white starting quarterback with the backup who is black, as I sat on my couch wearing my Josh Cribbs jersey...
What should you do?
You should have told Dan Gilbert face-to-face after the Boston series that you were not coming back. You should have held a press conference to tell Cleveland fans, and the media, "I'm not sure where I'm going to sign this offseason, but it's time for me to move on from Cleveland. I love this city, but I feel the right thing to do is to be honest about my decision to move on. It will give the Cavaliers a chance to explore other free agents, and it will allow me to explore other opportunities."
Would we have been upset? Yes.
The difference is that we would have gotten over it. It would have given new meaning to the ESPN broadcast announcing where you would play next year, all the while letting Cleveland off the hook.
You could have even added Cleveland to the list of cities that would have courted you on the next round of free agency in six years. It would have been a great story. LeBron James: Should he return home to get Cleveland a title? You blew it.
What should you do?
Grow up, LeBron. Be the man you refer to yourself as in third person. Learn that bad news is delivered in person, not national television.
We understand that you have every right, but you don't seem to understand that doesn't make it right. Learn what the word "tact" means and read a book or two by John Wooden so you can realize that legacy is built on integrity not championship rings.
And lastly, follow the advice of Don Johnson in your commercial, by writing this all down.