Friday, July 9, 2010

Awww, LeBron James is Leaving Cleveland, Boo Frickin Hoo

I shall establish my sports journalism credibility thus: the sum total I know about LeBron James is as follows.

1) He is a professional basketball player.
2) Until recently he played for Cleveland.
3) He just announced that he's going to Miami, which is apparently newsworthy.
4) As a result people in Cleveland are saying things like this:

"This is the worst day of my life," said John Horn of Amherst, who watched in frozen horror with hundreds of others at a Lakewood bar when LeBron James announced live on ESPN that he was leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Above: John Horn of Amherst.

Sir, may I offer you and your compatriots the following piece of helpful advice: you are a dipshit. LeBron James is a professional athlete. Do you know what that word means? "Professional" means people pay him to do what he does. Since we're talking about a national franchise, in this case "professional" also means he is an employee who works through an office in your city, like McDonalds or Holiday Inn. The Holiday Inn franchise in Cleveland might be called "Holiday Inn #985", and the local NBA franchise is called "The Cavaliers". LeBron James just got a transfer and a pay raise. He's a smart guy with a good agent.

In the following paragraph I will assume I'm talking to a fellow male American. Let's say you (or maybe it's your son) work at the local office of a national franchise. Let's also say you talk to the manager of another office in this franchise in a neighboring city. They have an opening and it matches your skillset. If you get the job, it'll be a big salary increase for you. You (or your son) would do it! Would you be a "traitor"? Would you be "turning your back" on the town you'd previously worked in? Maybe that's how you feel, and maybe you won't pursue the transfer and promotion on these grounds. In which case your wife should and would be sorry she married such a commie, hippie, I'm-a-milquetoast-pushover-who-can't-stand-confrontation-so-I-use-the-excuse-of-putting-the-good-of-the-community-ahead-of-my-family-and-myself loser. That's what you're expecting LeBron James to do, you socialist community-activist sonofabitch.

Now, you might reasonably ask why, if I don't care about professional sports, I can't control the unchecked vitriol I spew into cyberspace about people's child-like loyalty to their athletic demigods. Yes, I do have a pet peeve, which is that I just can't frickin' take it when people have such brain-damaging tribal loyalty to the local office of a national franchise. Hey, you can't transfer out of that Taco Bell! You can't close that Taco Bell! That's our Taco Bell! You owe it to us! You owe it to the community! Guess what? There's no difference. The two situations are EXACTLY THE SAME. Why people insist on flushing their brains down the toilet when pro sports come into the picture is an absolute mystery. As long as professional sports are professional, stuff like this will keep happening, constantly, and you can cry your little eyes out until the stars burn out and LeBron James and the other real capitalists of the world won't care. Got it?

Who's the highest-profile crybaby in all this? Dan Gilbert. But Dan Gilbert I actually get; he has a real reason to try to convince other people that they somehow have a right to determine the future of LeBron's career, because Gilbert will actually lose money. "But it's not all about money!" you say. Yes, it is. It really is. Remember the word "professional" up above? Go back and re-read, or learn more here. Or, I guess you might legitimately believe "it's not all about money" because you're some kind of a socialist hippie anti-corporate leftist. I guess that's the other possibility.

"But his fans were loyal! He's from Cleveland! That should count for something!" you might also say. Yes. In the magical fantasy rainbow world of elves and unicorns prancing on lollipop mountain, yes, it counts for something. In this world, where you and I and LeBron James deposit our paychecks and take out mortgages, it doesn't count for shit. But hey. If you don't understand, I'm sure your boss will be quite happy to keep you working for less than you're worth because to take that promotion would be to turn your back on your coworkers in this city. And I'm sure Dan Gilbert has some James stuff to sell you. And while I'm thinking about it, I have a bridge for sale too.

To simultaneously gloat and be angry at infants crying to mommy for milk go here.


James Tracy said...

Lebron James isn't going to Miami for a salary increase or a promotion, he is going to Miami because he wants to win multiple championships with his buddies Wade and Bosh. Fair enough. But if you want to understand a lot of the emotional backlash then you have to understand Cleveland sports history - which is essentially a history of disappointment. The list goes on: The Drive, The Fumble, The Shot, The Blown Save...and now, The Decision. I only lived there five years but you pick up the sentiment very quickly.

Bart said...

I just don't get the attraction of professional sports. I'd much rather go to a local armature event where it's either cheap or free and they aren't trying to sell me crap. Or even go to the extreme and actually play a sport.

That said, I guess it's better than them going to church on Sundays. If I had to choose between the two opiates for the masses, Id choose corporate sport over dogmatic fairy tales any day of the week.

Michael Caton said...

Hi James! Yes, I definitely don't have the Cleveland history which is probably why I don't get it. I'm sure James believes it's an improvement. This reminds me of a corporate psychology study where they showed low-ranking people damage their career prospects by bonding too closely, which leads them to reject colleagues that advance through hierarchy, possibly out of a sense of abandonment. Boo hoo!

Michael Caton said...

Bart, you're right, there are an eerie number of parallels between sports and religion, but on the whole I think I'd pick sports. I think there's a Top 8 list in there somewhere...