LeBron’s Move

By:
Published: July 9, 2010

I feel compelled to say something about the LeBron move.  No, not because of the implications it has for the NBA’s next five years.  No, not because it was one of the most over-hyped Sportscenter stories since Favre’s retirement saga(s).  I want to address some of the most selfish and hypocritical behavior I’ve Witnessed (Ha!) in quite a while. But I’m not talking about LeBron.  I’m talking about the Cleveland fans that burned LeBron’s jersey, and Dan Gilbert, who is currently playing the part of the jealous, insecure ex-girlfriend or boyfriend whose former significant other has moved on to better things.  If you talk to an old-timer, he will be quick to point out that athletes today don’t possess the undying loyalty to franchises and cities that they once did.  Would he be correct? Probably.  But there are two sides to every coin.  Let’s say, hypothetically, that LeBron signed a ten year deal with the Cavs.  He wins a couple championships early in his contract, but by his sixth year, his body is beat-up with very little chance of recovery, and he has a monster contract that prevents them from getting anyone else of real worth.  What do you think fans would want?  He would still be a beloved symbol of their city, but in the back of their minds, they would want him to take a serious pay cut or retire. Why? Because the NBA, like most professional leagues, is a business.  And fans invest their money and their emotions in teams, and they want to get something in return.  But how can fans declare LeBron “selfish” for wanting what’s best for himself? As the economist Milton Friedman once said, “Self-interest is not myopic selfishness.”  This is an incredibly important distinction.  If the Cavaliers were built as a championship contender, LeBron would have stayed.  But they weren’t.  And LeBron chose to join two of his best friends in Miami, for less money, for less shots, and perhaps also at the expense of his own legacy.  Now, to address what LeBron didn’t do as he should have.  He should have called Cleveland beforehand to let them know.  He shouldn’t have agreed to the special that was, undoubtedly, ESPN’s idea [note: I have since been corrected to note that it was LeBron's camp that created this idea].  But people make mistakes, and athletes are people, no matter what pedestal fans put them on.  I guess what I’m trying to say is this: Cleveland, LeBron has done so much for you, and I’m sure he still has the highest of hopes for your city.  Grieve if you must, because it is a sad day for your city, but wish LeBron the best as he would for you.  Because that is what true loyalty and love are about.