LeBron rant (only not what you’re expecting)

Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and LeBron James beat the system by controlling it, and that’s what’s got everybody upset. You’re not allowed to do this, so, by Gawd, we’re going to punish you for it! I say “good for them.”

Miami celebrationLike most other Americans still breathing, I’ve followed the LeBron James business this week, and I really can’t believe what I’m reading. From Dan Gilbert to a hundred sports pundits, not one has spoken for me, and whenever that’s the case — because I think of myself as just normal — I start wondering why.

Here you have three friends who played together in the Beijing Olympics making an almost impossible pact that when they reached free agency, they would cement their friendship in a deal where they actually could play together again and again. In the day of loyalty only to the buck, I find that simply awesome. That story is completely lost in all the LeBron bashing of the last couple of days.

And what is that bashing about? It’s coming from people in the press who can’t handle the idea that any brand — personal or otherwise — could usurp their “right” to decide what’s important or, perhaps even more so, how events of this magnitude should be played out. I find that distasteful and hypocritical. When somebody demonstrates the temerity to challenge the press’s right to such decisions, everybody piles on the challenger as an ego-centric narcissist.

In a truly remarkable piece of spit-shined horseshit, E Online actually says this is “our” fault! That’s right. Us. You. Me. The audience. The fans. We’re the ones responsible for allowing this to happen. Allowing what to happen? Taking part in history? Because, folks, that’s exactly what it was, only it “wasn’t handled right,” whatever the hell that means? It was handled perfectly, and I’m frankly astonished at the criticism that James — and EPSN — are getting. Sport is spectacle, for crying out loud. It’s not friggin life?

Is LeBron James a manufactured idol? The jury’s still out here, but he’s one hell of a marketable basketball player. Does he need to win championships? Hell yes, but I think the whole league is going to have their hands full with this trio of superstars — each of whom took what amounts to a pay cut in order to play together — and I’m going to enjoy watching them do their thing. Count me among those who think they will win multiple championships. Pressure? Bring it on. These are three guys playing basketball, emphasis on playing.

I don’t think LeBron James deserves criticism for this, especially not from the press. His “decision” was the most watched show Thursday, as if that’s some indictment of the people who chose to watch it. I watched, and I thought it was great theater and great drama, but then I actually admit to watching “The Bachelor,” too. The fact that absolutely nothing else was on that night probably helped ratings, but the complaint really isn’t about ratings; it’s about someone challenging the status quo.

Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and LeBron James beat the system by controlling it, and that’s what’s got everybody upset. You’re not allowed to do this, so, by Gawd, we’re going to punish you for it! I say “good for them.”

What James did Thursday night was rebellious, and that’s the problem. It challenged the league. It challenged the press. It challenged the way things used to be, and that’s what’s got so many people so upset. That three guys, three friends, three players can get together and concoct something like this is a remarkable example of where our culture finds itself today.

Long live the personal brand.

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