Tuesday, July 20, 2010

"The Decision" Seperates LeBron From The Legends

Times have changed in the sports world, but some things remain the same. Athletes in every sport, from baseball to handball all want to win. Every athlete is ultra-competitive. It’s in their nature. That’s what makes them the best.

But, there is one thing that’s changed greatly. We just “witnessed” it a few weeks ago, as LeBron James decided he would “take his talents to South Beach.”

This was a very interesting moment in sports. Three of the giants of the game, LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh, decided they would rather form a dream team than be the best.

The 80’s arguably brought us some of the best NBA basketball ever. The three best players in the game were Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, and Magic Johnson. What did all three of these players have in common? Three things- They all wanted to win, they were the best, and they stayed in one city (Jordan’s embarrassing run in Washington doesn’t count).

The NBA has always been a sport based on the individual athlete. When you think about the Lakers, you think of Kobe, the Suns, you think of Nash, etc. Forming a “dream team” has been unheard of until 2007, when the Celtics brought in Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to join Paul Pierce.

But that was different. Garnett left behind a middle of the road Timberwolves team, and Allen left a sinking ship in Seattle. What we saw this July was completely different.

James left Cleveland, his home. He left a franchise that he had helped rise from the ashes. James could have won championships in Cleveland, a city that isn’t used to doing so. He disappointed a whole city who embraced him, and left behind a legacy that would have lasted forever.

His legacy was set. James was the king of Cleveland, and was the face of the entire state. James’s legacy was left on the streets of Cleveland with his burnt jerseys.

LeBron James was the Cleveland Cavaliers, and was everything Cleveland had. But he left is behind for South Beach.

This move would have been absurd in the 80’s and even up to a few years ago. The decision came as a surprise to the greatest player ever, and the man who LeBron idolizes, Michael Jordan. When asked about James’s decision, Jordan said the following.

"There's no way, with hindsight, I would've ever called up Larry [Bird], called up Magic [Johnson] and said, 'Hey, look, let's get together and play on one team. But that's ... things are different. I can't say that's a bad thing. It's an opportunity these kids have today. In all honesty, I was trying to beat those guys."
Jordan’s comments point out an interesting observation. A lot has changed in this modern era of sports. Legacies are different. We saw it a few years ago, when Wisconsin’s hero Brett Favre ditched the Packers, and forced every cheese head to rename their dogs from Brett to Aaron.

Even a few years before then, the city of Chicago saw its own hero, Sammy Sosa, leave town and never apologize.

It’s growing increasingly more common for an athlete to leave behind a lot. We just witnessed such an occurrence with LeBron James.

LeBron’s move to Miami was another example of a superstar tarnishing his legacy. He is moving into Dwayne Wade’s team, and will be another member of the team. No matter how many titles he wins with the Heat, it won’t compare to the title’s he could’ve won in Cleveland.

If LeBron was indeed “The King,” he would have stayed home in Cleveland and won titles on his own, because he’s the best. That’s the competitive nature that the greats like Jordan, Bird, and Magic had. James is taking his talents to South Beach, but in Cleveland, he leaves behind a tarnished legacy.

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