LeBron James is No hero. He’s a Hypocrite
Tuesday, November 04, 2014
TV: Comcast & NBATV
Vegas Line: Cleveland -2
"(LeBron) James wants to be a hero," wrote ESPN's Brian Windhorst last week. "He always has wanted to be, but just didn't realize how badly until he tasted life as an antihero for a while."
What a sweet little fable.
But the emperor--né, King James--wears no clothes.
James is an opportunist. Aside from repairing his narrative, the world's best player realized, quite simply, that Cleveland's basketball future was brighter than Miami's. Coming home was no sacrifice; it was win-win.
As the Huffington Post's Jordan Schultz put it earlier this summer: "James escaped from Cleveland when it was clear he couldn't lead his team to a title, and now he's departed Miami under the same circumstances. Our generation's best talent is also a 21st-century Houdini."
At best, in returning to Cleveland, James offered a trifling mea culpa--only after doing and getting exactly what he wanted.
So let's nix the "hero" talk until James, who once espoused his goals as becoming a "global icon" and the first billionaire athlete, gives that billion dollars away--and under the guise of night, no less.
As Allen Iverson explained while critiquing the NBA Cares program: real charity happens when cameras aren't around to capture it. "I just look forward to doing it," Iverson said of giving. "I don't need all the publicity that comes with it."
Now, to be fair: Iverson's no hero either.
In the world of sports the term is thrown around with abandon. Overcoming opponents on the field isn't enough--especially when winners are often bigger, stronger, more gifted, or blessed with better teammates. Here, we often confuse heroism with idolatry, and perhaps even envy.
Of course athletes can--and do--qualify as honest-to-God heroes. Such recognition most often comes, however, from acts performed off the field.
Take, for example, the preeminent, shining beacon that is Muhammad Ali. The prodigious pugilist not only gave up his world title but spent time in prison for refusing to fight in Vietnam, a testament to both his religious and political beliefs.
It's nearly impossible imagine LeBron James doing something remotely similar.
It's hard, even, to imagine James merely rocking the boat, lest it jeopardize the corporate sponsorships he so clearly covets.
Coupled with companies like Sprite and McDonalds, James promotes products that are part of the problem while simultaneously touting his own new diet and trim frame. As Forbes wondered earlier this year: "Is LeBron James fattening his wallet by fattening our kids?"
So no, James is hardly a hero. He's a hypocrite.
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