I probably have no business commenting on any form of sports news – on this site or anywhere else. But life (and the internet) is full of firsts; and of things that just shouldn’t happen. It’s not on par with Two Girls One Cup, but here’s another first, and maybe a “shouldn’t happen.”
What does it say when competition means joining your opponents rather than giving your best against them? Is it an “unselfish” act to give up adulation and money to work toward a goal that ultimately benefits you more than anyone else?
The all-too-hyped LeBron James decision was hailed by many NBA insiders as both difficult and unselfish. Leaving Cleveland and The Cavaliers – his home and his first team – and the fans that adored him and looked to him to end a championship drought spanning more than four decades was no doubt difficult. This is a city that has been demoralized in ways that no other sports town could imagine: from Art Modell’s cowardly exit with The Browns, to the ’97 World Series heart brake.
But they are fanatical about their teams.
The people of Cleveland, and the greater Ohio area, are some of the toughest and most dedicated fans in the history of any sport. And they loved LeBron. In spite of the months (really, years) of uncertainty surrounding his impending free agency. In spite of appearing at other sports events around town while wearing the opposing team’s jersey. In spite of a half-hearted performance during some of the most important games in his team’s history. They loved him because he was the one who was going to deliver a title. Maybe not this year, but as long as he was with them, it was going to happen.
Art Modell, eat your hear out… or eat something else.
Being the only superstar on a team that is in serious need of a leader and stepping up when generations-worth of expectation is weighing on your shoulders is an unselfish act.
Being the one to ignore the perceived “sure thing” of winning with an all-star lineup to finish a job you’ve already begun is an unselfish act.
Giving money from your own pocket to benefit a worthy cause, rather than using charity to legitimize the staging of a prime time spotlight on yourself, is an unselfish act.
Winning for the city you call home, not for the one that will get you the fastest victory, is an unselfish act.
Superstars, heroes and role models are the ones who do the right thing and give of themselves for the sake of the cause, not their ego. Say what you will about the difficulty of the decision, the alleged sleepless nights and the consultations with family and friends. He had the chance to make a difference in a place that genuinely needed it. And he left.
Is victory still as sweet when it happens for the wrong reasons? Does winning for strangers feel as good as winning for family? LeBron will find out. He needs to find out. Because – if after all this – he does not get his victory, there may actually be proof that justice exists. And that is something that should happen.