Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Whitlock on LeBron: "I Give Up."
I give up.
This column was going to be a plea for LeBron James to apologize to Cleveland fans for the classless way he exited the city.
An apology in the hours before Thursday’s Heat-Cavs tipoff would douse some of the animosity sure to fill Quicken Loans Arena.
An apology would relieve some of the stress on a Heat team totally uncomfortable with playing the role of villain, of being the team America loves to hate.
An apology would serve James’ image well, allowing his objective critics to move on.
But I give up. LeBron James looks, feels and sounds like a lost cause today, a millionaire celebrity incapable of reaching rock bottom, self-reflection or uttering an ounce of remorse.
Talent in the kind of abundance James is blessed with is a curse. It seduces the owner into believing his flaws are his strengths.
I once knew a Pro Bowl NFL receiver who believed being high on marijuana during practice and games was the key to his success. He said he’d been playing and practicing high since high school. He had no idea his reliance on marijuana was the main reason he’d never be a Hall of Fame receiver, and that’s not to suggest there are no recreational drug users in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Lawrence Taylor was so gifted it never mattered what he did before kickoff; putting on a uniform 16 Sundays a year was as responsible as LT needed to be.
LeBron James thinks he’s as dedicated to the game as Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, Steve Nash and Tyler Hansbrough.
Nope. He’s more talented, the game comes easier to LeBron. He can excel in the NBA without ever submitting to coaching. He can earn lifetime financial security without ever attending college or grinding at the bottom of the corporate ladder. He can win friends and be popular with women without ever demonstrating humility or showing respect.
You wonder why Big Ben Roethlisberger tried to have sex with a college student inside a nightclub closet/bathroom? Probably because he had before. People do what works. If bad habits get rewarded, people never interpret them as bad habits.
LeBron James bullies the coaches who dare to coach him, who dare to try to define for him the sacrifices necessary for true greatness.
According to an ESPN story, the Heat players, particularly LeBron, are bothered that Erik Spoelstra is demanding that LeBron conduct himself in a more professional demeanor. Spoelstra has committed the felonious crime of yelling at LeBron in front of his teammates. Spoelstra won’t let LeBron be LeBron the way a parent won’t let a child be an unbathed child day after day.
The story appears to be intentionally leaked by members of Team LeBron -- the clueless group that brought you The Decision — to undermine Spoelstra. In reality, it undermines James.
That’s why I give up.
The people surrounding and advising James are just as devoid of mature perspective as James. They’ve been blessed with a gift (James) so talented they can’t recognize their flaws, either. Their flaws, in their minds, have no real consequences, especially none that can’t be explained away by racism or “haterade.”
It’s the blind leading the blind. Unless one of them talks James into financing a dogfighting ring, it’s highly unlikely James will ever snap out of his cluelessness.
Seriously, that’s what it took for us to see the best of Michael Vick, another once-in-a-generation talent who never approached his potential until he sat behind bars for 19 months.
I have no interest in seeing LeBron James go to prison.
So I give up. I’m just going to accept his immaturity and stubbornness and bullying. He’s an immense talent I’ll never fully enjoy or appreciate. I’ll tune in Thursday night and root for the Cavaliers.
James is a lost cause. He’ll never man up and apologize. His bank account says he doesn’t have to. His friends say he shouldn’t. His coworkers and peers, besides Spoelstra, are too fearful to tell James what they really think. He’s a bully. Team LeBron’s next media leak could be about how Chris Bosh needs to be traded or Dwyane Wade must shoot less.
King Blames must be made happy in order for the Heat to reach their potential. The Little Diaper won Ohio state championships when everyone catered to his needs.
King Blames can’t hear us. Not any of us who ask him to rule the basketball world with grace, class, fairness and eye toward greatness. We don’t need him. And he doesn’t need us.
I give up.
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