In the morning after LeBron James’ momentous decision to leave Cleveland for the Miami Heat, the face of the NBA has faced a tidal wave of scrutiny bigger than any south beach could offer.
The shirt that identified the greatness of King James with one word - “witness” - is now being replaced in Ohio by “quitness”. The hometown hero, the chosen one has been labeled as a quitter, a traitor and has been chewed out by his former owner just hours after his decision.
The criticism has not just been confined to Cleveland, however. Angry Knicks fans, jealous Clippers fans and, let’s face it, downright scared Lakers fans have said the king took “the easy way out” by joining with fellow royalty, Wade and Bosh, in Miami.
I would not consider myself a LeBron fan, but I could not disagree with this much more. Let me set one thing straight: I hated the way James handled the decision to announce where he would play next year. I thought the one hour special was over the top, uncalled for and frankly, it was arrogant and self-absorbent. All that said, I respect LeBron’s final decision and feel for him that so many NBA fans are not able to empathize with him.
Frederick Douglass once said, “If there is no struggle, there is no progress.”
For people to say LeBron took the easy way out is inconsiderate and plain stupid. Do these people think that this criticism and hatred LeBron is facing is unexpected to him? No. James knew he would face this but yet he made the decision that he felt would be the best for his career, and for that I applaud him.
The real “easy way out” would have been to stay in Cleveland. He would not have been blamed for turning away from New York or Chicago. And on top of that, he would have been cherished for remaining loyal to his hometown. The Cavaliers would have still been contenders next year and his career would probably have continued to move along as it has been for his first seven years in the NBA.
Now what risk is there in that? Nothing. LeBron could have made the safe and easy choice and continued what has been a tremendous NBA career. But there would have always been that “what if?” factor. So he did not waste any more time, he made the decision that he wanted to do, he did not let people pressure him with the loyalty guilt trip and he did something that is one of the hardest things to do in life - he made a change.
When I was in High School my father made the decision to move our family from our small town in Massachusetts to the cosmopolitan city-state of Singapore. I hated him when it happened but I cannot thank him enough for it now. While his decision may not have been broadcasted over ESPN airwaves, may not have affected the entire complexion of the NBA or caused an entire city to hate him, what I ultimately learned from my dad’s decision is that sometimes a change of scenery - as hard as it may be - is what some people need to open new doors in their lives.
LeBron simply made the choice he felt would be the best for him and the best for his career. People should at least respect him enough for being strong-willed enough to make his own choice and not be influenced by the selfishness of his peers. If you do not like the way in which he made his decision known, then I have no argument for that. What the people of Ohio need to understand is that they are not entitled to LeBron James, nor is he bonded to Cleveland with a metal chain. He felt it was time to move on and there is nothing wrong with that. While everyone is expected to be upset, a true fan would show LeBron James some empathy and celebrate everything he accomplished for the Cavaliers franchise.