Lebron James is the best player in the NBA; his talent is undeniable and his power within the league surpasses any other veteran. This is why I expected more from him in 2010, and more from him in the last four years. To create a legacy, to be a role model, and to be the ring-leader of a professional sports league, one needs to set a positive example to rookie players and to kids who are pursuing the dream to play in the NBA.
I have been cynical and just ashamed with the National Basketball League as a whole for the past four years. I was bored throughout the 2013 season when the Miami Heat went on a 27-game winning streak, I was ashamed to support the sport of basketball when Ray Allen made the 3-point shot in the finals and Miami “fans” were trying to get back into the building, and I was crushed when the Miami Heat won the 2013 finals because I did not think they deserved it.
I never thought that words from Lebron James’ mouth would be ever restore my faith in the NBA organization and the sport of professional basketball. However, he proved me so wrong.
Lebron announced his decision to go back to Cleveland with a very genuine and heartfelt essay in Sports Illustrated. Not only did he own up to the mistakes he made back in 2010, but he acknowledged that there are more important things than winning rings and playing basketball. He wrote,
“My relationship with Northeast Ohio is bigger than basketball. I didn’t realize that four years ago. I do now.”
Professional sports players have people of all ages and varying circumstances looking up to them, especially players as influential as Lebron. The concept of a dual-responsibility of athletes and celebrities is always discussed. However, donating money to a fundraiser just does not cut it, especially when you are Lebron James.
In his essay, he finally acknowledged this point.
He acknowledged that basketball is simply a platform to inflict positive change in the world.
He started off the essay by saying that before anyone cared about who he was, he was just a kid from Northeast Ohio. He noted that he has a responsibility to lead, a responsibility to bring pride back to the town that raised him, and a responsibility to inspire people to achieve their respective goals.
Lebron just set a new tone within the league, and raised the bar for sports players all over the world. He spoke out to the sports world with class and humbleness as he admitted his past wrongdoings and vowed to make things right. He made it clear that in making decisions there is more to think about than just yourself. Further, there is a bigger picture in every situation, and there are more important things than money and titles.
This is the best thing that could have happened in the world of basketball at this point in time. In an era marked by isolation basketball and big name stars getting $100 million contracts, Lebron James, out of all people, proved that there is simply so much more.