Let’s say you work for a company that does okay business. You work hard, day in and day out, wanting to be the best employee you can be and you are the hotshot expert in your company. But for whatever reason, your company mismanages your skills and never allows you to be the best you can be and also puts a cap on the kind of money you can make. What’s your next step?
You go looking for another gig…right?
So when LeBron James, the proclaimed King of the NBA right now, decided to skip town and head to Miami, what’s not to understand? He spent 7 seasons with the Cavaliers. He got them CLOSE to a championship. He became the one of maybe 3 marketable players in an otherwise nameless game (seriously…name me the 5 starters on ANY team in the NBA that doesn’t play in your town) and made basketball hip in a town that, prior to his arrival, the most memorable thing about it was when they got beat by the Bulls back when Jordan hit “The Shot” in 1989 to finish the Cavs’ playoff run and start their descent into a decade of bad basketball. So when every fan and the OWNER of the Cavs comes out after his announcement that he’s leaving Cleveland and badmouths him saying he gave up and he is a loser and you can bet he will suck in Miami? Well…they’re obviously just bitter.
Here’s the deal, and the reason I bring this up is because one of my Facebook friends put it so eloquently…if you are from Akron (or Cleveland), James’ leaving is a big deal! He essentially turned on his hometown and ran for the glitz and glamour (and the money) of Miami. And so I ask: Uh…wouldn’t you?
Cleveland has cold weather, Miami has rain every now and then and it never gets below 60. Cleveland has a cloud of Loserville hanging over it’s head, Miami won the NBA Championship in 2006. Cleveland’s lineup without James includes…well…we dunno at this point, the Heat have Dwayne Wade (one of LeBron’s buddies), Chris Bosh, Zydrunas Ilgauskas and some other guys who aren’t as famous but who cares? It’s a no-brainer folks! Given the opportunity to work for a Fortune 500 company or stay with your struggling company that doesn’t seem to know what to do with your skills, what would YOU do? I’d be flying the coop as soon as possible! And that’s what James did.
Oh sure…we could all say that the way he did it was a bit obnoxious. ESPN scheduling a 1-hour special to add to the excitement of who would get the best basketball player since Jordan (whatever Kobe…) was a little over-the-top. And James’ unwillingness to even give a hint to what was gonna go down was literally like sneaking up from behind all the fans in Cleveland and giving them a smack in the back of the head…but maybe that’s what they needed.
Because here’s the deal folks…pro athletes don’t give a rat’s butt about the fans. Anyone who watches sports KNOWS this…but we’re gluttons for punishment and we’d love to think that all athletes think fans are the greatest…but they don’t. For them, this is a job. It’s a living. Sure…they’re having a grand ol’ time playing sports and seeing the country, but when the day is over, they have only so much time and then they’ll be hocking cars or running a restaurant or smacking up hookers or whatever they will do after their days as a pro athlete are numbered. They are just like us except with a shorter time span in which to build their millions (I assume you make at least a million or so a year…right?) so they do it as quickly as possible. And that’s what James is doing. He knows if he wins a championship, his name will forever be etched in stone with the rest of the greats AND he’ll be set for life! He’ll never have to buy his own dinner, buy his own car or wait for a table anywhere ever again. And who here wouldn’t want that?
So don’t begrudge LeBron for leaving Cleveland. It’s what athletes do. And just about any athlete in any sport would tell you…given the option of playing forever in Cleveland or playing anywhere else in the country? Well…I’m thinking anywhere else is probably lookin’ pretty darn good…