Maybe LeBron James has found a new home.
But he’s lost me.
I used to admire this kid. I thought he handled his business well. He seemed serious about his game, stayed out of trouble and was true to his Midwestern roots.
But the last few months have been a theater of gagging behavior that makes me want to run now if I hear the guy’s initials. True, not all the pathetic fuss made over LeBron’s free agency is his fault. Much of that lies with our media business, which has breathlessly reported every silly rumor. Who did he call? What did he wear?
Note to journalism students. When we celebrate investigative reporting, it’s for issues like war crimes, nursing home scandals or police corruption. It’s not to report that LeBron James has opened a Twitter account.
But that was a “major” headline Wednesday. And James’ first Tweet was Hello World, the Real King James is in the Building “Finally.”
Honestly, who calls himself “King”?
Which brings me back to the man himself, who, after a few years of relative humility, now seems, at 25, to be stepping onto some assumed throne atop the world, like that “Airbender” kid, as if the rest of the planet naturally should step aside.
Excuse me if I turn my back. I no longer care less where LeBron James plays. I’m sick of the whole story. The number of supposedly respectable people tripping over themselves to hand him $100 million should make all of them and many of us ashamed.
In a country where people are out of work or out in the streets, LeBron’s basketball home was never important. But spilling money on his head is downright insulting. James can’t win a title on his own
Consider the parade of rich beggars going hat in hand to LeBron’s chosen meeting place, his own business offices in Cleveland. (And, by the way, if you’re going to live someplace for five years, move your family there, represent that city and wear its name across your chest, might you want to actually VISIT THE PLACE?)
Instead, LeBron insisted his courters enter his chambers, the way peasants once brought sacrifices to the monarch. You had a Russian billionaire and a rap star. (Another aside: Can we stop with Jay-Z’s bloated importance? The guy owns, reportedly, 1.5% of the Nets. And he’s in on the meetings? Usually the guy who owns 1.5% is lucky to be on the mailing list.)
Then you had the Knicks, who brought a financial wizard to show that New York dollars increase exponentially more than Cleveland dollars. From Miami came the once esteemed Pat Riley, who now seems as interested in attaching himself to a star roster as he is LeBron. And here came Chicago, so desperate to recapture the Michael Jordan years the Bulls probably would sand Jordan’s face off his statue if it made LeBron happy.
Then you had Cleveland, the home team, which spent a fortune to get James the players he wanted (Shaq, Antawn Jamison) and still got ousted in the second round of the playoffs.
Do you think any of these visitors pointed out, while the world was being laid at his feet, that LeBron has so far been incapable of winning an NBA title, and this year couldn’t even lead his team beyond two victories against the aging Celtics, who finished him off the way a bear finishes a cream pie?
No way. They are all too hungry to have him spinning their turnstiles. But facts are facts. The guy, right now, cannot win a title by himself, or even with a decent supporting cast. There’s nothing charitable about it
Still, the final cherry on this ego sundae is the televised event tonight, an hour-long ESPN special at 9 o’clock (an hour?) in which James will announce who wins the right to wrap its money around his arrogance.
Only in America could we keep inventing reality TV that fantastically outshames the previous low mark. A prime-time event? To announce a free-agent signing? And don’t point out that some proceeds go to charity. You want to give to charity, quietly write a check. Don’t get a network to do it for you so it gets to pump its shows and you get to shower yourself in international coverage – while calling it philanthropy.
The NBA has embarrassed itself here. The media have embarrassed themselves. And a guy who calls himself “King” may be beyond embarrassment, which is truly embarrassing.
Here’s a question: What if not a single story had been reported about LeBron since the day he crapped out of the playoffs? And tonight he released a one-sentence statement on which team he’d chosen? How would things be any different?
They wouldn’t. Which proves what a colossal waste of time this whole affair has been.
Contact MITCH ALBOM: 313-223-4581 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Catch “The Mitch Albom Show” 5-7 p.m. weekdays on WJR-AM (760). Also catch “Monday Sports Albom” 7-8 p.m. Mondays on WJR. To read his recent columns, go to www.freep.com/mitch.