Saturday, August 7, 2010

LeBron: The deadbeat dad of the Cavs

By Rick Morris

I’ve broken down the LeBron James situation – comprehensively and almost immediately – before. But as I indicated on our THE FDH LOUNGE program (Wednesdays, 7-10 PM EDT on, I felt a need to take my observations from our show’s post-mortem and respond to a lot of the continued idiocy that circulates unabated on the subject.

It became clear in the days after LeBron’s departure that a number of imbeciles were circulating with the flimsiest of pro-LePippen talking points. Some of this was no doubt due to the sadly-common “backlash against the backlash” phenomenon, which involves soft-brained trolls rebelling against deserved condemnation of a figure simply because they’re too childish to reflect on the reasons behind it. Some of it just involved people who wanted to continue to jock him regardless of circumstances. And some of it, frankly, came from the vocal minority in Akron that mindlessly embraced the “He’s still with us” gaga – these being the same kind of people who, when informed that a woman was beaten, ask “Well, what did she do to deserve it?”

But fortunately, I am here as always to lend needed reason and enlightenment to the discussion.

^ First and foremost, the reasonable Cavs fans who are bent that LeBron left (as opposed to those who believed in the mindless “hometown boy” crapola as a reason he shouldn’t go) recognize what I said on the program: LeBron operated as Tony Soprano for seven years, shaking down this organization as though it were a small, vulnerable business under the thumb of a mob kingpin. His “boyz” (who, speaking of TV analogies, each operate on the level of “Turtle” – the lowliest bag-carrier on Entourage – notwithstanding the resumes that falsely claim they have ever accomplished a single thing in life on their own) displaced team officials and employees of the flagship broadcaster on a regular basis (by the way, that excellent blog entry, written by a friend of a friend although I do not know him personally, gives a comprehensive account of the behind-the-scenes garbage that LeBron and Co. secretly perpetrated for seven years). LeBron could not leave with a clean slate after taking – and taking – and taking – for seven years. He shook down the organization for countless favors, coerced the owner into putting some of his “Turtles” on payroll and forced the team into countless short-term moves because he wouldn’t commit to them – only to leave town citing a better opportunity than the one HE created as a virtual co-GM and only to do more recruiting in the first seven days for his new team than he did in the previous seven years. If you understand nothing else, understand this: LeBron is the Cavs’ deadbeat dad. We often hear that pathologies repeat themselves in family dynamics and while by all notions LeBron has been a good and loving dad to his own kids, he has done to the Cavaliers organization exactly what his own biological dad did to him and Gloria (by the way, speaking of Gloria, props to Michael Beasley’s dad for the Tweet of the Year). Chalk this up to yet another cliché example of what the lack of a father figure teaching accountability can do to a person. This sewage about “He was a FREE agent! He can play anywhere he like, yo!” completely ignores the moral debt that LeBron incurred through his seven years of shakedowns and forced short-term mode of operating.

^ On a similar note to the last one, as we discussed on the show, the biggest steaming pantload came from some guy who writes for something called the Akron Law Café through the website (no, I will not be linking to his dung heap, thank you very much). On that site, he “bravely” stated the “controversial” point of view that “LeBron had the constitutional right to go wherever he wanted!” To which I replied on the show, “Nice straw man you built there, egghead.” Hey, I didn’t claim that it was a particularly civil reply! I truly didn’t think I had scraped the bottom of the barrel until I found the person who tried to justify his LeBron sycophant status by claiming that hordes of people were somehow claiming that what he did violated everything the Founding Fathers held dear.

^ While Jesse Jackson was rightfully denounced in most corners for his moronic injection of race into this issue, as I said on the program, I give him credit for at least doing so openly. Nothing to me is more galling than those who covertly play the race card, hiding behind “one love” to try to find something good to say about a fellow brotha regardless of circumstances (see Orenthal). If you spend five minutes listening to jerks like Michael Baisden or Tom Joyner, you will find people going out of their way to defend LeBron – for reasons they don’t have the nards to talk about openly, just a bunch of “well, in fairness …” pabulum that is never accompanied by their stated motivation. Gutless! I even had some troll come after me on Twitter, denying that Spike Lee was playing the race card with his “40 acres and a mule” statement about Dan Gilbert! He actually claimed that I played the race card by correctly recognizing what Lee had done. This troglodyte is sadly representative of a part (hopefully a small part) of the population that looks for any excuse whatsoever to play the “Hate Whitey” card – but to do so in a subtle, cowardly manner. As long as our country is being poisoned by people more concerned with a group identity than with the common identity of being American that we all share, we’re going to be in trouble regardless of anything else that happens in the world.

^ Speaking of cards to play, there is none more mindless than “You just hatin’! Hatas gonna hate!” The translation to English reads, “Yeah, I got nothin’, I’m just peddlin’ clichés because I don’t have a mind of my own.”

^ Many have noted that the NBA legends who mocked LeBron for seeking to play with megastars rather than beat them are speaking of a different time. They are indeed. Can anyone say, though, that this is a better time in terms of the lack of killer instinct that most of today’s best players lack? Different isn’t necessarily worse, people, and advancement of time doesn’t always equal progress.

^ Anyone who denies that LeBron carries forward two huge historical burdens is the worst kind of know-nothing. First, as Dan Gilbert mentioned, no megastar in the history of the game has had to deal with the very real probability that they quit on their team during multiple playoff games. As I have said, I’m still not 100% sure that he “quit-quit,” but at best, he dealt with his frustrations in a way that undermined his team. Look on down the line in this history books and you won’t find a precedent as smelly as that one among the all-time greats. Second, we have never seen – perhaps in the entire history of sports – a player on a glide-path to become the greatest of all-time in the history of his sport willingly throw it away. Unless D Wade gets hit by a bus in the next few years, LeBron will always be one title short of him, thereby completely obliterating the “greatest of all-time” case. Of course, the Dastardly Trio in Miami has been getting spun as a bunch of unselfish winners by their jock-sniffers, but all they’ve proven is that they can’t do it themselves and want to collectively gravy-train each other. Granted, Wade is the closest to an exception to this rule because he’s already got a ring, but let us not forget that his was won at the tail end of “when Shaq was Shaq” and that his recruiting proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that he thinks he needs the 82nd Airborne to ever get back to that point. By the way, in terms of Wade deciding to join LeBron as a national laughingstock by becoming his biggest enabler – he might want to dial up some Cavs employees (past and present) to find out how that story inevitably ends when LeBron feels that you’ve outlived your usefulness to him.

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