Every year, fans of various sports teams criticize athletes for leaving their team for more money somewhere else. The terms “money-hungry” and “typical selfish athlete” have followed players like Alex Rodriguez, Brett Favre, and many, many others. Members of the media discuss their disgust ad nauseam about “today’s selfish professional athletes”. They claim that winning has become secondary to a fat paycheck. This is true about almost every athlete playing professional sports today. Some people believe that it is the athlete’s right to choose the money over being loyal to his team, because to be honest, when has an organization ever shown any loyalty to the aging star whose skills have diminished to the point where he can no longer help the team win? The organizations get off the hot seat because they are making decisions that will benefit the team and help them win, even if they are not being loyal to the player. The fan base is okay with the move because all it truly cares about is winning. With all this being said, Lebron James’ decision to join the Miami Heat to play alongside Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh, has broken the mold. King James has left millions of dollars on the table in Chicago, New York, New Jersey, Los Angeles, and tens of millions of dollars on the table in Cleveland just so he can join a team that he feels gives him the best chance to win. Money hungry? Not Lebron. Selfish? Not this King. With this decision, Lebron James has become the most unselfish superstar athlete of this generation.
Fans all over the world should be throwing a party to honor Lebron because of this unheard of unselfish decision. He should be the media’s darling and should be praised on the front page of every newspaper. The lead story on every website should be about how Lebron James, the most talented player in the NBA, has decided to give up millions of dollars for a chance to win a championship. But, this won’t happen. The negativity has already started in Cleveland, as during James’ hour long decision, ESPN showed Lebron James jerseys being burned in Cleveland. The media has already begun to say that James’ reputation will be destroyed by joining forces with Wade and Bosh. They say that even if he wins, he will never get the credit because he decided that he couldn’t do it alone. Who could? Bird had McHale and Parish, Jordan had Pippen, Kobe had Shaq and then Gasol. None of those players would have won without a great secondary player, and none of them have had their reputations tarnished because of it, so why should James? If anything, Lebron James has thrown his reputation out the window, something none of these other stars would ever do (see Kobe Bryant’s ultimatum to the Lakers that it was either him or Shaq). James has decided that winning championships is more important than making an extra thirty or forty million dollars, and for this, he should be praised.
While I may be in the minority of people who think James made a commendable decision, everybody else needs to really think about everything they have complained about over the years. Whether it was Alex Rodriguez’s 252 million dollar contract or Bret Favre’s retirement/unretirement gig, concocted only so he could remain the center of attention during the offseason, media and fans alike have bashed these players, and professional sports, in general. They long for the old days when players stayed with a team for their entire career, and when money was no object. They long for the tough, hard-nosed players like Pete Rose, who would do anything just to win a game. Well, wait no longer, because on Thursday, July 8, 2010, that player has arrived. Sure, he came in the form of an “all eyes on me” one hour ESPN special, and sure, this man made people come to him in Akron, Ohio in order to try and persuade him to play for their teams, but when all was said and done, and all the dust (or, in Lebron’s case, baby powder) had settled, Lebron James chose the chance to win over the chance to make more money. No star athlete in this decade can say that, so to all the media planning their “Lebron bashing” articles, and to all the fans burning jerseys, take a step back and realize that Lebron James has just become the athlete that we have all been searching for. And for that, this sports fan applauds him. Thank you Lebron for reminding everybody what sports is really about. Winning championships.