Last night while watching the spectacle of “The Decision” on ESPN and seeing LeBron James announce his decision to play in South Beach for the Miami Heat, I heard the theme to Star Wars playing in my head. I could not help to think that what I was watching in real life was the transformation of a true-life Anakin Skywalker (James) into a real life Darth Vader, or in this case, Darth ‘Bron. The twisted laughter of the Emperor, which is Pat Riley providing a crescendo much like Vincent Price in Michael Jackson’s Thriller video to the event.
What we saw last night was the superego of a 25-year old on display. The people who surround LeBron James should have thought better. The Decision could have still been produced but only after a brief news conference earlier in the day where LeBron could have announced his decision and answered no questions. The questions and answers could have occurred on the show later in the day.
I understand his quest and desire to be a champion. I also was a 25-year-old and understand that we can also be impatient and see things in tunnel vision. With all the hoopla surrounding his decision a more eloquent solution should have been devised. Cleveland and Ohio is where he was born, raised, and was crowned, “the King.” The Cleveland basketball fan would have been disappointed and vilified LeBron for leaving town; however the fact that he would have read a prepared statement first with his family surrounding him with no questions and no spectacle may have lessened the blow. The fact that the city and state of Ohio was effectively “dissed” in such a way leaves a bitter and foul taste in the mouths of many Ohioans today.
Dan Gilbert reacted extremely poorly and without any professionalism or common sense in his response. He spoke out of pure, raw emotion. David Stern should act fast to penalize Mr. Gilbert because as an owner his act is harmful to the carefully crafted image of the NBA. In both cases, where were the media professionals and publicists to advise James & Gilbert? Were they drinking their employers Cool-Aid and just going with the flow? Or, were both of their egos so big as to not listen to the advice they may have been given?
In any case, a call should have been made to all the teams involved personally by LeBron James in private before the red-light of the television camera went on. A special emphasis on Cleveland and the Cavaliers organization, his former employers should have been made it may have defused the explosive statement Dan Gilbert made before it was actually made. It would have been the professional thing to do and would have shown a maturity and understanding of media control beyond his years.
In all this though what was particularly disturbing was how the Boys & Girls club was lost in all this. This was to be a publicity vehicle for them as well as a philanthropic vehicle for LeBron James. Outside of the corporate sponsorship dollars that ESPN will turn over to the organization, there was no mention of the great programs the Boys & Girls Clubs around the United States provides to children. That is truly the saddest development in a chain of sad developments.
Miami can celebrate. New York and Chicago can begin to implement their Plan B’s. Cleveland needs to start to heal their wounds and move on. With the next NBA collective bargaining agreement this type of free for all may not happen again. Sports as well as life is funny for LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh what you wished for may not be all it is cracked up to be.