Everyone else in America is writing about the LeBron James debacle, and I can’t resist chiming in. Up front, I must say that I love basketball too much to be able to watch the game played by today’s National Basketball Association. There was a time — that of Bob Cousy, Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Oscar Robertson, and all the way up to that of Larry Bird — when professional basketball in the US was as exciting, and as well played, as the game’s college version. All that changed with a guy named Michael Jordan. Enormously talented, he was permitted to change the rules. He palmed the ball, he double-dribbled, he drove through the lane while taking three steps without dribbling, and his defense consisted of waving an arm at his man as the latter drove by. The game became a sham — and it continues so.
The poor quality of the NBA game is surpassed only by that of the character of some of its players. Coddled and managed from their early teens, these guys have been convinced by their adoring hangers-on and the cooperating sports press that the world revolves around them. There is no better example than the man-child who appointed himself “The King” — LeBron James. This selfish oaf, with full cooperation from newspapers, magazines, and ESPN, deserted the city of Cleveland accompanied by fanfare which displaced news of deaths in Afganistan, oil spewing into the Gulf of Mexico, and the excitement of the World Cup.
Why does this disturb me so? It’s the fact that people actually care about a jerk like LeBron James — a guy who couldn’t carry Bill Russell’s jockstrap.