When an event happens, people have an immediate reaction to that event. After a few days, people start to have a better perspective of the news and form a better opinion of what they saw.
Thursday night was one of those moments. “The Decision” as ESPN called the one-hour prime-time special was the opportunity for LeBron James to announce what team he would be signing with. Here are my impressions about it.
–The telecast. What did you expect was going to happen? As someone who wants to expand his “brand”, LeBron and his “team” approached ESPN about airing this special. ESPN, of course, force fed this coverage like building a buffet line for a hog. But don’t mistake the idea that everyone at ESPN was willing to go along with the program. Unless your name was Jim Gray. He got paid for the entire shebang. ESPN didn’t receive a penny. Nice job of whoring yourself Jimmy boy.
Nevertheless, it was a trainwreck, ego trip, a kiss-the-ring ceremony, whatever you want to call it.
LeBron was better off cutting a check to the Boys & Girls Club of America rather than making ESPN sell ad space to the University of Phoenix and bing, and for those sponsors in turn give proceeds to the BGCA. It was a poorly attempted effort to put a humanitarian face to the one-hour program.
–Apples to oranges. WHO-TV sports director Keith Murphy echoed a sentiment that I disagree with vehemently. Comparing LeBron’s “announcement” to what Harrison Barnes did when he announced in November that he would play for North Carolina. Pardon my french when I write the following:
It’s apples and oranges, Murph.
There are over 1500 highly-recruited prep athletes across the country who conducted their college declaration the same way that Barnes did. He had to share Signing Day with those student-athletes. Barnes conducted his announcement professionally, in contrast to the knuckleheads who basically threw a “Sweet 16” party for themselves. When you are the #1 high school basketball recruit in America, you are held at a higher standard and you have to conduct yourself as a professional.
The difference with LeBron James and his announcement is that he is a paid professional athlete, not a teenager. You never saw Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Dwayne Wade, or Amare Stoudamire get an one-hour show, not a press conference, to announce where they are going, unless they were retiring or being traded. Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant “tweeted” that he was going to sign an extension with the Thunder.
I love Murph, but I disagree comparing a teenager to a pro athlete in respects to how they handled a press conference. There is no comparison.
–Loyalty be damned. Cavs owner Dan Gilbert is a hypocrite when he espoused about loyalty and ripped LeBron in his letter to the fans last night. If Gilbert was about loyalty, then why fire Mike Brown and GM Danny Ferry? The Cavs have made the playoffs every year under this duo. If it’s about loyalty, then why was Gilbert willing to overspend to get Tom Izzo to leave Michigan State to coach the Cavs, and yet not spend money to bring in another superstar to play alongside LeBron? Gilbert has single-handedly undermined his team for the next several years. No agent or player will consider playing for Cleveland and Gilbert. He damaged his “brand” by being childish and unprofessional.
James didn’t “quit” on the team or betray Cleveland fans. He was a free agent. He was free to sign with any team of his choosing. He wasn’t under contract. In the business world, if you had an opportunity to get a better job, would you take it? You damn right you would. It’s about making the best decision for you, not for your employer.
LeBron is taking less money to join the Heat. He came to the conclusion that winning a title is his priority. The money, the royalties, and ad revenue will follow.
If employers, like Dan Gilbert, are not loyal to their employees, then how can they admonish the employee if he or she decides to leave for a new gig? Gilbert threw James under the bus before Game 6 of the Cavs’ playoff series versus Boston.
If you don’t think James remember that slight while making his “Decision”, you would be wrong.