Friday, July 09, 2010
Profiles in narcissism
I wanted to write this sermon yesterday, but I didn't have time. That is all right, however. As it turns out, the events of today have only confirmed my earlier thoughts: LeBron James is a raging egomaniac who's lost all touch with reality.
It's not often that I -- the pug, the myth, the legend -- have occasion to call someone an egomaniac. But in this instance, the high-top sneaker clearly fits. The basketball player wrapped up his year-long spectacle tonight by announcing that he'd leave his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers to play for the Miami Heat. I don't begrudge anyone their choice of where and how to earn a living. But the way James handled the process was obscene and classless.
Rather than merely signing a contract and announcing his decision, James felt he had to make a splash. His elevated sense of self-worth would not allow the self-proclaimed "king" to accept a job offer like a mere commoner. (His first post on his new Twitter page this week read "Hello World, the Real King James is in the Building 'Finally.'" Maybe that little social networking site will catch on now that his royal highness has deigned to grace it with his presence.) After requiring all his NBA suitors to come to him for meetings at his Cleveland office, James set up an hour-long, prime-time TV special on ESPN dubbed "The Decision." "The," because in LeBron's warped world, it was the only decision that mattered.
While James was busy earlier this week announcing that he would ... announce, a younger superstar who is arguably already LeBron's equal in terms of talent humbly accepted a boatload of money for a contract extension in Oklahoma City. Kevin Durant's announcement came on his Twitter page: "Exstension for 5 more years wit the #thunder....God Is Great, me and my family came a long way...I love yall man forreal, this a blessing!"
OK, so his spelling isn't the greatest. But the youngest-ever NBA scoring champ has the sweetest jump shot in the league and arms a mile long to go with his great attitude and humble demeanor, so we shall let that slide. The point is, Durant expressed gratitude for the opportunities he's been given. He's a team player who doesn't put himself on a pedestal. The wallpaper on his Twitter page pictures his teammates but not himself. If I were starting a franchise, I'd take Durant over LeBron in a heartbeat.
But back to LeBron James, a player who's never won a championship and seemed to already have his foot out the door as his Cavaliers were embarrassed in the playoffs this year, and my assertion that he's lost touch with reality. When he announced the hour-long TV special, I thought it was a virtual lock that he would return to the Cavaliers. How could a decent human being possibly go on such a forum on national TV and rub his decision in the faces of all the Ohioans who had supported him and cheered him since he was a boy? In the faces of his teammates and the front office that put together the league's best regular-season team this year? Surely if he were going anywhere else, he'd put aside the spectacle and exit his hometown with some dignity. But the Akron native was oblivious to this obvious notion, blinded by his ego. An ego that told him that everyone watching on TV loved King James as much as he loved himself.
I'm sure they love LeBron in South Beach right now, but expect the backlash to be severe elsewhere. As the recent July Fourth holiday reminded us, this country doesn't take kindly to kings.