Mating Calls of the Irrational Sports Fan: Lebron Edition (Part 2)

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Part One of “Mating Calls of the Irrational Sports Fan: Lebron Edition” can be found here:

Let’s continue………

Lebron took the coward’s way out.

No, he did not.

It took courage to leave Cleveland. He knew that he would be disappointing hordes of hometown fans and devastate the downtown Cleveland area. Reports estimate that Cleveland stands to lose an estimated $200 million a year due to Lebron’s departure.  

Dan Gilbert,  the owner of the Cavs, was also depending on Lebron to attract traffic to his downtown casinos (more on Gilbert later). Many people thought  Lebron would be “turning his back” on his hometown if he decided to leave Cleveland. Choosing to leave town meant he would have to face an appreciable backlash from not just Cleveland fans, but from people all over the world. Returning home to a hero’s welcome (and accepting another 10 years of mediocrity) would have been the easy way out.

I don’t disagree with his decision. I disagree with the way he made his announcement.

Hypocrites. Sour grapes personified.

I find it very hard to believe the manner in which Lebron departed was the chief cause of  ‘anti-lebron’ sentiment. These fans were ‘shocked’ and ‘outraged’ that Lebron could engage in such as self-centered stunt.

Here’s a question for all of the sports fans whose teams missed out on Lebron:

Are you telling me you wouldn’t be celebrating through the night if he hadn’t announced he was coming back to Cleveland?

Every year, thousands of prep stars announce their college choices via highly publicized press conferences. Where is the outrage then? Terrelle Pryor (high school football phenom from Ohio) spurned Penn State at the 11th hour (a major recruiting faux pas, by the way) when he chose to go to Ohio State University via press conference . Where was the ‘shock’ and ‘outrage’ then?

Lebron is a traitor/Benedict Arnold because he left Cleveland.

Gilbert ripped Lebron in an ill-advised, curiously constructed letter to Cavs fans immediately following Lebron’s departure.  He didn’t do the Cavs’ recruiting efforts any favors by displaying such churlish and immature behavior. Judging by Cleveland’s floundering tourism industry, they can ill-afford to be any less attractive a destination for free agents.

Dan Gilbert is the same man who professed to love Lebron like a son while he was under his employ.  Athletes don’t want to play for ungrateful owners who so easily dismiss all that a great player has done for an organization.

It will be a cold day in you know where when we see sports owners pay athletes mega-millions  in their 40’s and 50’s for all of the value they created while in their respective primes. Owners and executives routinely trade and cut  players without their consent or  a courtesy phone call. Most owners do not hesitate to dump a player if he gets hurt and is no longer a major contributor to the team.

Even when an athlete is productive, many owners will refuse to pay them fair market value for their services (read; Pittsburgh Pirates, Philadelphia Eagles). Loyalty is a relic of the distant past in the sports arena (and the world at large) in this day and age.

Many of these same sports fans criticizing Lebron would leave their places of employment if tempted with even a minimal raise. Why should athletes not be extended the same liberty? Fans and owners don’t own players. No matter how much you love your sports team and its players,  you do not have a say in how they live their lives or where they ply their trade. Athletes are employees; they don’t owe you anything besides their best effort on the court or field.

MVPs don’t leave their towns.

This gem came from Sir Charles Barkley. Never mind that he left Philadelphia to go to Phoenix and Houston to improve his chances of winning a ring, Charles (and a host of other nba players, self-righteous analysts and uninformed sports fans) believes that Lebron needs to stay put no matter what.

Subscribing to the idea that ‘an MVP doesn’t leave town to win a ring’ is akin to subjugating his own goals and desires out of some misguided sense of pride or valor. Sure,  it sounds magnanimous and wholly correct, but upon further review, it’s ridiculous. We all have one life to live. Sometimes, you will have to disappoint  the people around you in order to satisfy yourself. If your primary goal is to win an NBA ring, then you go to the place that gives you the best opportunity to do so.

Banging your head against the wall for the sake of some “higher virtue” is silly.

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