Bob McFlurry with Sports
So Lebron James has recently come out and stated that race played a role in the amount or severity of the backlash he received stemming from his decision to leave the Cleveland Cavilers and sign along with Chris Bosh to play in Miami with Dwyane Wade. Yes there’s always going to be a racial component to a pretty much everything dealing with multimillion dollar athletes and their coverage in the media. The media handling of issues is then fed to the sheepish American public, most of whom don’t think for themselves or read between the lines.
With that being said, Lebron James wasn’t obligated to stay in Cleveland. This is America and if he chose he could have went anywhere that would have signed him to a contract. What Lebron should understand is that being the most over-hyped sports figure in modern sports and decision he makes is magnified to an exponential level. If Žydr?nas Ilgauskas had decided to leave Cleveland it doesn’t have the same effect as the most heavily marketed player in the game (by the way Big Z is heading to Miami too). Being the so called face of the NBA comes with a lot of weight on your shoulders. You have to take the good with the bad and that includes how the media deals with you and how race is involved in that coverage.
So Lebron is right, there is a racial component of how the media dealt with him and his decision. Always has been, always will be. What James’ may or may not have taken into account is how much these kids look up to him and expect him to do the right things. I learned a long time ago that there aren’t anymore heroes, at least not advertised ones, but kids and other people who saw Lebron as infallible don’t understand why he left Cleveland. The people of Cleveland certainly have nothing to cheer about now that their home grown superstar has flown the coop, leaving Josh Cribbs as maybe the most recognizable athlete in Cleveland. Fans in Chicago, New York and New Jersey are pissed that James didn’t come to their team. Millions of people including retired NBA greats looked at his teaming with Bosh and Wade as a cop-out, as the path of least resistance to win a championship. And the fact that he had an hour-long special on ESPN to announce his decision didn’t seem like the kind of thing that even media/endorsement whore Michael Jordan would have contemplated doing. Granted these are different times.
But for Lebron to act as if the media painted him in a negative light partly due to race is ignoring the essentially free pass he’s gotten from that same media and partially because of race up until his decision to leave Cleveland. For the first time in his career he’s had to endure some national ridicule. A multi-millionaire since he was out of high school and commonly known nickname, “KING JAMES”, it couldn’t possibly be that James brought this ridicule onto himself in the way he handled changing teams.
Even if James didn’t mean to implicate that race was anything but always an issue he did it in the wrong way and gave his detractors the means to attack him further. If he wants to be anything like his idol Michael Jordan he better shut up and start blaming things on himself instead of other people or crying about how the media is treating him. The blue collar contingent of the U.S. doesn’t want to hear a multimillionaire bitch and complain about how tough their lives are. They’ve been making fun of rich white people for decades for that reason and I will bet that African American blue collar people feel like they just lost a little bit of pride in a guy that bitches and complains like a rich white guy.