An Open Letter to LeBron James in Regards to His Flag Football Game

Jacob RudeContributor IIIDecember 1, 2011

MIAMI, FL - JUNE 12:  (L-R) LeBron James #6 and Dwyane Wade #3 of the Miami Heat answer questions from the media at a post game news conference after the Dallas Mavericks won 105-95 in Game Six of the 2011 NBA Finals at American Airlines Arena on June 12, 2011 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Dear LeBron,

America hates you. It's nothing new. You're probably the most hated athlete in all of sports. You're selfish, you're arrogant and you're overrated.

You brought all the attention on yourself with "The Decision" then folded under all the attention in the NBA Finals. Your team won in spite of you in most cases, especially in the Finals. You probably made every bad choice you could make within a one-year period, from The Decision to the Finals.

However, you were starting to regain fan support. Most NBA fans were mad at the owners and sided with the players. We wanted the NBA and we wanted the players to play. We wanted you back on the court, dunking with ferocity.

In your defense, you did try to please the fans. You barnstormed all over the country in summer league games. Yourself, Kevin Durant, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, and others had YouTube on fire with highlight films.

You were catching oops from John Wall, throwing passes off the backboard to yourself and sending gymnasiums crammed with fans into hysteria with your play. Our perception of you began to change. Not every player was playing in these summer league games as regularly as you were, and we appreciated that.

And then the news broke that you and Kevin Durant would be working out together in Akron. Fans all around the country and the world began day dreaming about the one-on-one matchups that would ensue. We wished for television cameras to be present at those gyms.

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - OCTOBER 23:  Kevin Durant  and LeBron James of Team White talk during a timeout at the US Fleet Tracking Basketball Invitational charity basketball game October 23, 2011 at the Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.  The gam
Brett Deering/Getty Images

But most importantly, you were finally doing what you were supposed to do in the offseason: working on your game. There's a reason Kobe Bryant wasn't out playing in many summer league games. He was working out on his own, improving on his own game following an embarrassment of an elimination.

It's what the great players do. When embarrassed, they go to the gym with focus and intensity. It's what made guys like MJ, Magic and Kobe great. And for once in your career, it looked like you had finally grasped that.

Then last night happened. Instead of staying in the gym, developing a post game, working on shooting 3s that you are so keen to chucking up, you were out on a football field. Yes, a football field.

You decided that the best way to spend your lockout-lengthened offseason was playing in a flag football game against Kevin Durant. Kevin Durant has more than made up for himself, as it seems like he has played basketball somewhere every day of the summer and fall.

But you, LeBron, don't have a reason for this. Not only were you not playing basketball and honing your skills, you were risking serious injury.

While it was just flag football, you're running full speed through players, cutting dangerously without proper protection, and lunging for jump balls with less athletic, clumsier guys. Really, it's quite a miracle you didn't suffer an injury last night.

And in typical LeBron fashion, you decided to UStream the game. Were the proceeds for that donated to a Boys Club too?

If I were you, I'd be doing everything I could to recover my image. And to do that, I wouldn't be seen all summer. I'd live, sleep, breathe, eat and practice 24/7 in a gym. After being embarrassed and mocked for all of the Finals, I'd want redemption.

I'd want to be ready for the season to start. I'd be salivating over the thought of getting another shot at the title with two top-10 players in the league beside me.

However, you would rather play flag football. You'd rather make it publicly known to all that you're working out with Kevin Durant. You'd rather spend the last few precious weeks before the season running down sidelines past out-of-shape opponents. You'd rather spend your nights in Columbus watching NCAA basketball games.

Have you seen Kobe at any college basketball games? I realize you want to have fun, but shouldn't your goal in the NBA be winning titles? Shouldn't being the best be the goal of anything you do in life? Shouldn't you have the fire to get back in the gym, get back on the court and prove the haters (and there are lots of haters) wrong?

If I were you, I'd be more motivated than ever. But clearly, I'm not you.