GoodBye, LeBron

Well, LeBron James has decided to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers to join the Miami Heat.  I don’t follow the NBA, so I don’t really care.  The Cavs’ owner has unloaded on LeBron, calling him narcissistic and disloyal.  I’m not sure about that — I think an athlete has the right to decide where he plays, and if LeBron James thinks his chances to be great are better in Miami, that’s his call.  The fact that he was born in Akron doesn’t mean he has to play forever in Cleveland.

What I object to about this whole process is that poor Cleveland, Ohio and its long-suffering fans have taken another shot to the gut, and it had to happen through some glitzed up primetime special (which I admittedly did not watch on general principles).  Fans made embarrassing signs and song recordings (one of which featured Ohio Governor Ted Strickland crooning “Please stay LeBron, we really need you” to the (apparent) tune of “We Are The World”) and then had their hopes dashed, as has happened so many times before.  I am sure it hurts for Clevelanders to think that they have been dissed by a native son who isn’t interested in staying home.

More broadly, the whole silly LeBron James spectacle just accentuates the absurdity of our ridiculous athlete- and celebrity-driven culture.  LeBron James is big, tall, strong, and a fine basketball player.  Why should he make millions, and why should people live and die with his decisions on where to play?  Lindsay Lohan is a troubled, boozy, aging-before-her-time 20-something who acted in movies as a teenager.  Why should people care about what she writes on her fingernails during a court appearance, or whether she will survive her stay in jail after probation violations?

America has lots of problems it needs to confront.  We should attend to the problems, not to the peripheral activities of egotistical athletes and celebrities.  Maybe now that we know that LeBron James is taking his game to the South Shore and Lindsay Lohan is heading to the clink we can focus on some real issues, for once.

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