On the day before all life in the sports universe as we know it stopped and lined up for their ticket to "Lebron Land", I read and listened to comments from writers, fans, those who couldn't care less, and those who considered the revelation about what was on Lindsay Lohan's fingernails to be news similar to the splitting of atoms.
"LeBron James will finally have a real team and real front office management behind him, leaving nothing in his way to grab at least 2 NBA title rings".
Having been disappointed by a baseball organization run by amateur extortionists, a hockey organization that has succeeded in making their franchise completely irrelevant, and a football franchise still climbing out of mediocrity, those fans in Miami are allowed to reach new heights of hyperbole.
"LeBron James has stuck a knife not only in the hearts of the people who made him great, but also the economic future of the City of Cleveland. His cowardly exit will cost the City millions in lost tax revenue".
If the people who run the City of Cleveland placed their economic rise on the back of another person who's only exceptional talent is running in shorts and putting a ball in a hole, there needs to be a new room in the "Moronic Mismanagement Hall of Fame" for each of them. Without windows.
"LeBron James is now destined to be one of the greatest basketball players of the 21st century".
That sound you hear is the combined raucous laughter of Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O'Neal and Tim Duncan laughing their jocks off while waving those multiple pieces of hand jewelry.
"LeBron James is a whore".
I have covered sports for over 20 years. I have honestly never heard a stunningly talented, seemingly well-adjusted, star athlete completely void of any drug charges, sexual assault charges, or any legal transgressions to his or her name referred to using such a vile and abhorrent tag.
However, if one takes a moment to sit back and think logically, the definition can easily fit. Several dictionaries define the word as "A person considered as having compromised principles for personal gain". And when one considers how fondly James has talked about his hometown of Cleveland in the past, and then bolting at the first opportunity to capitalize on the fame and fortune the city and it's residents have brought to his bank account doorstep, it's a dead-on characterization.
Before we start emptying the phony tear ducts, let's make a few things very clear.
James is no better or no worse than the bottomless pit of jocks and jock sniffers who take their talent, put it on display, insure plenty of zeroes are slapped on the contract, and bolt when the getting and Benjamins are good.
But for a time, we really thought this was the guy who would break the mold. Prove to be different. Create an example for those future athletes who desire more than being a fraud.
Or a coward.
A fraud in light of the millions of dollars in advertising revenue from the announcement turned over to the Boys & Girls Clubs. Good friends who know these things have told me, and it comes as no shock to one who has seen this clown show before, the humanitarian gesture wasn't LBJ's idea but that of his "handlers". Exactly the same as in many cases of jocks throwing millions at a charitable cause. A convenient smokescreen and diversion.
Cowardice in what has become the standard for such abdications. Instead of braving the slings and arrows of angry fans by centering the announcement around a "thank you" to those who coughed up their savings to help purchase his 5th home or 19th car, James avoids having various versions of "pariah" being verbally tossed at him. Then again, there are very few who would have this kind of respect for the faceless saps in the stands.
Though the caveat here is that all too often those fans turn into little more than rabid, obscene-gesture tossing, verbal hate-spewing, talk show inciting drones that can and sometimes turn violent. Making for an excellent reason to avoid them at all costs.
Both of these are nothing new in the case of a star athlete. It has happened before, and will happen again. Foaming at the mouth in anger at this is useless and misguided. Grown millionaires who would think nothing of raiding another house to stockpile their future earnings, thrashing about with the trembling lower lip of a petulant child. The torching of #23 jerseys on cue before TV cameras delivering that 15 minutes of fame for budding pyromaniacs.
All expectantly pathetic.
As is the venting at ESPN for producing and broadcasting LBJ's reality show, one that pales in comparison to the actual drama revealed weekly on "Real Housewives of (insert city or State filled with narcissistic female airheads with a desperate need to show off their new botox injections)".
ESPN is in business to make money. Which translates into programming guaranteed to attract large audiences, which begets high ratings, which begets sponsors pleased to hand over large amount of money, which begets a large portion of America having something on their TV screens to argue with while no one else is in the room. You asked for it. You got it.
And in essence, LeBron James shouldn't be held accountable for what he did, how he did it, how it affects the City of Cleveland, how this will change the very firmament of our existence.
Go back to that definition. "A person considered as having compromised principles for personal gain".
We are the ones who assisted in crafting the principles LeBron James and his fellow jocks currently live by. We are the ones who demand winners at any price. We are the ones who covet their every breath with lavish praise befitting a Greek God or Goddess. We are the ones who forgive almost any and all transgressions so long as they put more "W"s on the card and fill that nagging need for purpose in our average lives. We are the ones who cough up that side coin to the cheating college athlete.
We are the ones who made LeBron James what he is today. And through our actions, we have given him every right and every ounce of approval to perform as he did on ESPN.
Remind yourself that criminals, cheats, cowards and whores are only in existence because someone has to be there to support them and buy their wares.
Someone has to be the "trick".