Daniel Kline: Loyalty should still matter, even in sportsPublished 7:55pm Wednesday, July 14, 2010
The long-suffering sports fans who fell victim to “The Drive,” “The Fumble,” “The Shot,” the loss of the Browns, the sad performance of the Browns since their return and years of futility from the Indians deserved a better man the LeBron James.
They deserved for their hometown hero to go on ESPN and say, “I know it’s going to be hard, but this is my home, these are my people and I’m going to work as hard as I can to bring a title to Cleveland.”
At the very least the people of Cleveland deserved to not be blindsided and humiliated by one of their own on national television.
Sadly, James proved that while he might be a fabulously talented basketball player, he comes up short as a man.
Loyalty matters and so does finishing what you started.
James promised to win a title for Cleveland. He not only came up short in that quest, he didn’t actually seem to care very much as he let opportunity slip away the last two years.
Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert was the loudest voice actually saying it, but anyone who watched James’ performance against the Celtics this season had to wonder if he actually cared.
Maybe James quit or maybe he just played without passion, but the self-anointed “King” did nothing in that series to show that winning meant anything to him.
Sure, he wants to win, but not in the way the true greats burn for victory.
James wants to win because it improves his legacy or grows his brand.
Michael Jordan, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson wanted to win because the pain of not winning haunted them.
There’s honor in working your hardest but coming up short.
Taking the easy way out and turning your back on a town that pinned its hopes and dreams on you stinks of cowardice.
Had James stayed in Cleveland and won even one title, he would go down as an immortal.
Winning in a city that historically loses means more to the fans in that city and in the history books.
Even without winning a championship, had James stayed a Cavalier, he would have remained a lifelong icon in the place he has always lived to the people who have always supported him.
Instead, he chose to betray those fans by not just leaving the team, but by humiliating the Cavaliers on the way out the door.
LeBron James did the equivalent of breaking up with his girlfriend by announcing it on stage at a pep rally the day before the prom.
With the words “I’m taking my talents to South Beach,” James kicked his hometown fans in the teeth.
Instead of taking the hard road and trying to bring Cleveland the title he promised, the young superstar turned his back on people who perhaps foolishly held him up as their sports savior.
James might win in Miami, but stacking the deck with superstars and winning a title as Dwayne Wade’s Scottie Pippen does not make you an all-time great.
“The King” had a chance to rule, a chance to matter in his community like few athletes do.
Instead, he gets to hang out with his buddies in South Beach while Cleveland burns his image in effigy.
Daniel B. Kline’s work appears in over 100 papers weekly. He can be reached at email@example.com or you can see his archive at dbkline.com. See new content daily at WorstIdeasEver.com and follow Kline on Twitter at @WorstIdeas.