Thursday, July 8, 2010

Theologian for the Day: LeBron James

I'm throwing the blogosphere to you today: what do you think of this LeBron James saga? For those of you who aren't following it as rabidly as I am, here are the highlights.
  • LeBron is arguably (and then, only occasionally) the best player in the NBA. He has won the last two NBA MVP awards.
  • He is a free agent, i.e. able to sign with any NBA team that can afford his salary.
  • Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh, two other All-Star free agents, have both signed with the Miami Heat.
  • Everyone involved (fans, teams, owners, etc.) is chomping at the bit to find out where LeBron is going to sign.
  • LeBron has contacted ESPN, and will announce his decision tonight live, just after 9pm.
  • The money raised from the sale of sponsorships on this program will be donated to The Boys and Girls Clubs of America, James' pet charity.
There are a lot of ins and outs here. First, LeBron James is from Ohio, and has played for the Cleveland Cavaliers for the only seven years of his NBA career. By all accounts, he loves Ohio. The prevailing wisdom is that, if he leaves Cleveland, it will be tantamount to stabbing the city and state in the back.

LeBron, though he has definitely been a user (using ESPN and this free agent experience to inflate his fame and wealth, for instance) has also been used. Check out the picture of him and Gisele Bundchen, next to an old-school army recruitment poster. Wow, right? Does LeBron have the right to ply his wares in whatever city he chooses? Of course. Does he have the right to announce his decision on national TV? Well, if a national network will have him, of course. Does this make him a good person? Well, maybe not.

Does the fact that he's donating all of the proceeds from the special tonight to charity make it less egotistical or is it simply an attempt to hide his megalomania behind a veneer of generosity? LeBron is currently said to be leaning toward Miami, to sign with Wade and Bosh to create some kind of super-team. LeBron is getting killed for this. People are questioning whether he and Wade can co-exist, because it will tarnish both of their legacies, as being unable to win championships without each other. But what if they just want to have fun and play with each other? What if they want to win and think this is their best chance?

The final question: is there any situation in which LeBron comes out of this unscathed? The only option seemingly possible is to stay in Cleveland: to "be loyal." Is loyalty the highest good here? Is it possible that LeBron be seen as "righteous?" What theological themes do you see at play here?

1 comment:

  1. it was weird how many people- different ages, races, etc... i overheard discussing this the last few days. in a terrible economic time this one guy gets to have an hourlong special about who he is going to allow to employ him for gobs of money. i think it's the hope that there is a savior- that someone can take a failing team and lead them to a championship. Are some teams beyond salvation? the nets?


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