There’s a good chance some of you had that t-shirt. Heck, some of you might still have it whether you’re willing to admit it or not is another subject. The t-shirt in question was Nike’s massive marketing attempt to make LeBron James into Michael Jordan as well as they possibly could. It wasn’t just on t-shirts though as it was also on billboards and banners that were several stories high.
That was five years ago and then some when LeBron James was leading his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers to the NBA Finals.
What we all ultimately became witnesses of was ‘The Decision’ which led to James taking his talents to Miami. This left Cavalier fans in tears as they burned their number 23 James jerseys. Cavs’ owner Dan Gilbert even penned a letter that went public which sounded a lot like the type of letter a scorned lover would write.
My how times can change…
LeBron James now has four consecutive trips to the NBA Finals and two championships. Not three, not four, not five… He has two. Regardless of how many titles James has won, he now carries more power than any NBA superstar since Jordan and perhaps even more considering the age we live where social media and the 24/7 news cycle dominates our lives.
So powerful is James is that even Carmelo Anthony is waiting to see where he goes before he makes a decision on his own future. Same can be said for Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade as well. Basically, the big name free agents aren’t making any decisions until James does.
A lot of people want to lay blame at the feet of James for this waiting game and worse yet, this media and social media firestorm but that isn’t fair. We would all be doing the same thing in our careers if presented with similar options. It was reported last week that if the NBA’s salary cap didn’t exist, James would be worth as much as $50 million per season.
James has every right to seek out the max contract he is entitled to and for us to whine about it is wrong. It shows a lack of understanding of the situation.
What we do have every right to be annoyed with is the attention paid to this entire situation. To say social media is enthralled with James’ ‘next decision’ would be like saying the Great Wall of China is a nice little divider. I would be willing to bet that you can’t go on your Twitter timeline and not see a tweet regarding the Lebron decision withing the first couple of swipes of your thumb.
Common sentiment among media members who follow this stuff is that James has narrowed his choice to either Cleveland or Miami. Cavaliers’ fans are so certain James is returning home that they’ve brought out their jerseys in droves. These are the jerseys that weren’t burned I guess. Cavs’ fans have even gone so far as to surround James’ Cleveland Area home in an effort to… I guess I really don’t know what they’re doing.
According to the latest itinerary, James has been in Las Vegas attending his basketball camp and is scheduled to attend the World Cup Final on Sunday in Brazil. There are two groups of people who stand to be most affected by James’ choice; the bandwagon fans in Miami and the Cleveland fans who are so certain he is coming back that they are buying tickets like crazy.
The nonsense will end but only when James is ready for it to end. Let’s just keep the lighters away from the Cavaliers’ fans.