Shame Makes A Comeback

Sleaze Culture

During the NBA’s 2009-2010 playoff year, LeBron James disappeared during Game 5 of the Cleveland Cavaliers/Boston Celtics Eastern Conference semi-finals. The Cavaliers lost the next game and LeBron James opted out of his contract to become one of the most sought after free agents in any sport in recent memory.

In July of 2010, LeBron “King” James and ESPN teamed up for a special program entitled “The Decision.” After an hour of inane blathering about the life and times of a 25-year old man-child who has done nothing but play basketball in his home state of Ohio, James announced he was “…going to take my talents to South Beach.”

The citizens of the Buckeye State screamed traitor, placing Akron, Ohio Native “King” James in the same category with Art Modell (the owner of the Cleveland Browns responsible for moving the NFL franchise to Baltimore in 1995.) and Benedict Arnold.  Dan Gilbert, owner of the Cavalier’s, published an open letter to his former player and team fans.  He took James to task for leaving his hometown team, calling LeBron’s decision to leave the team, “heartless” and “selfish.”

Frankly, I could have cared less.  The country has worse problems other than the drama of another narcissistic ball player who thought the world would throw itself at his feet because he wanted to play with two of his friends in Miami where it’s warm all the time instead of in cold, depressing Cleveland, Ohio.  Another over indulged athlete in the fabric of America, who would have thunk it possible.

The fun started when Jesse Jackson called Gilbert a slave owner for his comments.  Instead of the sports press falling all over the old race baiter, they struck back.  J.A. Adande of ESPN (among others)” blamed the whole fiasco on James and his having ‘the common courtesy’ to notify his former employer of his intention to leave.  And although NBA Commissioner David Stern fined Gilbert for his comments, he joined with Adande in declaring the way James made his decision as part of the problem.

Then James himself played the race card in a September 29, 2010 interview with Soledad O’Brien of CNN.  When asked if race was a factor in the criticism of his ‘Decision’ LeBron replied, “I think so, at times.  There’s always – you know, a race factor.”  This prompted Jason Whitlock of and Mike Freeman of to cry foul.

Through it all, James performance was quiet.  He seemed ill at ease all year long, although he did manage to finish second in the league in scoring.  It was far below his (personally) expected average of a triple double a game. And again once in the NBA Finals against the Dallas Mavericks, James disappeared.  So, when the Mavericks won the series in 6 games, it wasn’t only the citizens of Dallas, Texas who cheered: so did Cavaliers fans and those fed up with James and his antics.  Ohio Governor John Kasich declared the Mavericks honorary denizens of the Buckeye State and a massive market in anti-LeBron gear appeared (literally) overnight.

James response to his critics:

…at the end of the day, all the people that was rooting on me to fail, at the end of the day they have to wake up tomorrow and have the same life that they had before they woke up today. They have the same personal problems they had today. I’m going to continue to live the way I want to live and continue to do the things that I want to do with me and my family and be happy with that.

This provoked more howls of laughter from critics and friends alike. And once more James had to explain himself or at least offer an apology.  The mea culpa came in the form of an apologia on James’ website.

Congratulations Mavericks on the championship

…especially Dirk, J.Kidd, & Terry who have done so much for our league and worked so hard to get here. They deserve all the credit for what they have accomplished. Thank you to all my family, friends and especially the fans for standing by me this year. Miami fans are incredible. A special thank you to my teammates, coaches and Pat Riley and Micky Arison for all of their support. A lot to learn from this year, a lot to build on, and a lot of work to do this summer.

Why is it ‘King’ James always seems to suffer from toe jam?  Karma?  No.  I think this is something older, a disease that has been festering and now is rearing its head after (too long) and absence: Shame.  James had been suffering from this oldest malady’s for nearly a year and it has also grabbed Anthony Weiner in its loving embrace.  Now if we can just find the tar and feathers so we can do a Sons of Liberty job on these clowns.



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