The Wellness Husband is from Cleveland, so when LeBron James “took his talents to South Beach” we all grieved after the announcement and were disgusted by the pyrotechnics show that followed. Overnight, we became fans of anyone who was playing the Miami Heat. Then, we heard the news that he was bringing his talents back to Cleveland. We were vacationing with my husband’s family at the time, so it became a topic of conversation for the rest of the day.
I want to be excited. I’m happy for the city, which hasn’t had a championship in any sport since 1948. But how can I be so fickle? To laugh at his leg cramps one minute and then throw up the ticker tape upon his return. As much as I disliked him for these past few years, I have felt sorry for him. I pity him. He is a man-child, surrounded for most of his life by hangers-on, agents, and greedy friends and family who told him to follow the money. He never really had a chance to develop out of the spotlight. He’s probably received some really bad counsel over the years. As I ramble and reflect, I realize there is a lot we can learn from the comings and goings of LeBron James.
- Poor sportsmanship hurts a lot of people. Many believe LeBron tanked the playoffs in 2010 so he would have an excuse to go elsewhere. If this really was the case, it hurt his teammates and millions of fans. Technically, it affected all fans because he compromised the integrity of the game. Most of us do not play for a professional team, but most of us are part of a team – our family, our workplace, our church. When we don’t “play” to our fullest potential, we let down ourselves, the others who are relying on us, and those who taught/coached us.
- Greed hurts many. It is a deadly sin. Nothing positive can come from allowing greed to manipulate our lives. Money, power, fame – when we put these idols first in our life, we generally hurt those who have supported us the most. We use people to achieve our goals. Once we are there, we have no use for them. When LeBron made a spectacle of his decision to play for Miami, he showed the Cleveland fans that their years of support were nice, but he was moving on to bigger and better things. Players move on and fans understand that, but the show that surrounded the announcement was ostentatious and obnoxious. He hurt the people who had been building him up for years.
- Arrogance can be your downfall. This is a little extreme since LeBron has been more than successful since he left Cleveland, but no one can deny that LeBron’s marketability took a huge hit when he left in such an unusual way. After his big announcement/televised slap to the city of Cleveland, he went from likeable, fun-loving, marketable LeBron to just another greedy superstar. He hasn’t really recovered. He’s still a superstar and now a champion, but we don’t see his face on commercials nearly as much as we used to.
- Forgiveness. Will the Cleveland fans forgive LeBron? I think they already have. There will be some boos, but I think most people have already moved on and are thinking championship.
- You can always go home. LeBron’s story is similar to the parable of the prodigal son. LeBron grew up in Ohio, started his career in Cleveland, then went wayward for a few years. He sowed his wild oats, thumbed his nose at his hometown team, and then came back. After all the hurt, Cleveland is preparing the fatted calf.
- Redemption. A little early to determine. Will LeBron win the City of Cleveland their first championship in 66 years? Will he go back to being the fun-loving, light-hearted LeBron we loved before “the decision”? Will his marketability increase? Stay tuned.
So, after I’ve had time to reflect, I suppose I’ll dust off my old #23 jersey, remove the duct tape X that I put over the number, and eat some fatted calf for dinner.
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