It's not often that we get to witness a full-color, slow-motion, and entirely self-motivated, fall from grace -- President Clinton's wasn't self-motivated; thank Gingrich and Starr for that -- but over the course of the summer, that's exactly what we've been treated to courtesy of LeBron James. James and his fans and detractors have managed to turn the entire state of Ohio into a preschool playground, and no one -- Clevelander, Akronite, or unaffiliated Ohioan -- has been able to restrain himself from flinging sand in other people's faces.
It should be noted that, while James himself threw the first fistful, it wasn't by opting to flee Ohio for Florida. Though his departure might have seen a bit disloyal to Cavaliers fans, it's by no means the equivalent of seeing David Petraeus replace the Old Glory patch on his fatigues with one depicting the flag of the Taliban. Nor is it in any way similar to Benedict Arnold's attempted betrayal of West Point in 1780. If a bus driver for Cleveland's Regional Transit Authority found a better job at Miami-Dade Metrobus, would we feel the need to burn his RTA uniform in a bonfire? Would Joseph Calabrese, CEO of Greater Cleveland RTA, have felt the need to petulantly apologize to riders of that driver's route?
The so-called "driver" of the #55F Lake Shore Flyer has "decided" to take his self-proclaimed vehicular "talent" away from us. You don't deserve this. The 55F will live on without the so-called "navigation" of its so-called "driver." Be sure that I have personally requested that Lord Siva place extra oil slicks, potholes, and other forms of traffic-related nuisance on his "route" until he realizes the "error" of his ways and comes back, tail between his legs, to the Cuyahoga, where we will not "embrace" his "return" "by any means." Om Shantih,
The immature pettiness of James' former boss notwithstanding, the Marie-Antoinette naïveté with which James has conducted himself over the last two months has been quite breathtaking. Let's start with the megalomaniacal media event he staged to announce his South Florida plans. If A-Rod, another poster-boy for the fraternity of athletes who've let their egos run wild, can admit that, "One thing I know is for sure that baseball is a lot bigger than Alex Rodriguez," then we might have expected James to recognize that basketball is a lot bigger than he is. That he lost sight of this is, by one stretch, sort of understandable: Who knows how thickly the fog of glory swirls around his head, and who knows how sycophantic the guy who's supposed to clear that fog is?
Still, that King James so magnificently and cheekily betrayed his ignorance of rudimentary public relations is astonishing. (In his defense, I'll allow that with full-blown World Cup fever raging at the time, there were plenty of examples for him to follow of international soccer players who clearly felt that they were bigger than their sport.) But a month after the "Decision" event, James is back at it, and he's managed to paint himself as even more of a petulant juvenile than he was before.
On Tuesday, James purchased a full-page ad in the Akron Beacon Journal, his hometown newspaper, thanking his "family, friends, and fans in Akron" for their love and support. "Akron is my home," he wrote, "and the central focus of my life. It's where I started, and it's where I'll always come back to."
It's a gracious letter. The problem, though, is that it contains nary a mention of Cleveland, the town in which he actually played professionally for seven seasons. Only under rare circumstances, of course, should one be castigated for failing to send a thank-you note to someone towards whom he doesn't feel grateful. If James has nothing nice to say to the residents of Cleveland who've decided to irrationally and venomously vilify him, then that's perfectly reasonable. Still, he ought to have realized that his failure to recognize Cleveland would be seen -- especially by an already aggrieved and riled-up populace -- as a willfully aggressive slap. Where was the fog-clearing guy on this one? One need only remember the famous Who Shot Mr. Burns episode of The Simpsons, in which Homer finally loses it when the family receives a thank-you note from Mr. Burns that's addressed to "Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie" -- but not to Homer. Homer responds by asking the kids to leave the room and unleashing the loudest F-bomb that Flanders claims to have ever heard.
In the U.S., anyone is allowed to embarrass himself to as far an extent as decency will take him. For his sake, I hope the King has reached his limit.