Friday, July 9, 2010

LeBron James

Free agency in baseball led the way for free agency in other sports, including basketball. The point of this post is not to lament the high price that LeBron James commands or to explore the details of his free agency or his contract.

The point is to record the spectacle that James' free agency has produced and the inevitability of such spectacle the moment the Marvin Miller era began. Adrian Wojnarowski commented on this spectacle on the eve of James' big announcement regarding his move to the Miami Heat:
The Championship of Me comes crashing into a primetime cable infomercial that LeBron James and his cronies have been working to make happen for months, a slow, cynical churning of manufactured drama that sports has never witnessed. As historic monuments go, this is the Rushmore of basketball hubris and narcissism. The vacuous star for our vacuous times. All about ‘Bron and all about nothing.

James is throwing a few foosball tables at Boys & Girls Clubs, an empty gesture out of the empty superstar. He’s turned free agency into the title of our times, a preening pageant of fawning, begging and pleading. Hard-working people are dragged into municipalities and told to hold signs, chant scripted slogans and beg a diva who doesn’t care about them to accept a $100 million contract. . .
. . . . . .
But this isn’t about kids and sports, and it sure isn’t about the credibility that comes with winning championships. Something’s changed here, and LeBron James has gone a long way to devaluing winning and losing in the NBA. David Stern has long pushed the individual over team, marketed showy over substance, and LeBron James represents the manifestation of it all.

Greatest talent to ever walk into this league, the self-proclaimed King, and now everyone gets a front-row, primetime seat for how it means to live without self-awareness, without restraint. The vacuous star for our vacuous times, live on Thursday night and fitting himself for a ring as the undisputed Champion of Me. All about ‘Bron and all about nothing.

Congratulations to Marvin Miller. Mission accomplished.

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