Monthly Archives: June 2011

LeBron, NYC and the Right Decision

On Sunday night, the Dallas Mavericks won the NBA title. If you’re a casual sports fan (or not a sports fan at all) you may have missed this headline because most of the attention was not focused on the team that hoisted the Larry O’Brien trophy in victory, but rather on the team that lost.

Miami Heat superstar LeBron James is taking the brunt of the criticism, not only for his historically enigmatic performance in his first Finals appearance with his new team, but for ridiculous comments he made after the loss. You know, the ones that implied not so subtlety that he was happier and had less personal problems than any of his detractors.

The argument could be made that the criticism and attention that’s being paid to King James this week is overblown, the product of a 21st century sports media that amplifies the highs of professional sports heroics and digs the ditches to ensure athletes hit rock bottom. There’s certainly some truth in this, of course, but I’m finding it difficult to generate much sympathy for Mr. James.

After all, this is a man who couldn’t just walk away from the Cavaliers when he became a free agent. He had to turn his “decision” into a national spectacle and kick Cleveland fans in the crotch on his way out the door.

And when he joined Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami, they couldn’t simply hold a press conference. They had to announce their presence with authority by throwing a monstrous celebration that employed more pyrotechnics than a KISS concert.

And during the infamous welcome party the Heat threw for South Beach’s Big Three, LeBron James spoke of championships; lots and lots of championships. Unfortunately, after talking the talk the King had a difficult time walking the walk. He only managed to score 17 points TOTAL in the fourth quarters of  the six Finals games and regularly looked lost and lethargic on the court.

In the aftermath, non-Miami fans cheered his demise. Columnists and pundits crushed him from every imaginable angle. And the Twittersphere became an open forum for all the haters to rant, rave and circulate cheesy jokes at LeBron’s expense.

Yet despite all the negative attention, drama and psychoanalysis, I would submit that things could be worse for LeBron James. Much, much worse.

He could be playing in New York City.

There was a time not that long ago when the New York Knicks seemed like the frontrunners in the LeBron Sweepstakes. Long suffering Knicks fans drooled over the prospect of having the world’s best basketball player come to Gotham. They saw him as their savior; the man who could lead them to championship glory for the first time in 38 years. And they would’ve expected James to accomplish this herculean task despite a lack of talented teammates and horrifically inept ownership.

Now imagine if King James had lived up to the hype and gotten the Knickerbockers into the NBA Finals. And imagine if he then disappeared the way he famously did in the last couple of weeks. And imagine if his response to the criticism of said disappearance was similar to the bomb he dropped in the American Airlines press room after Game 6.

Imagine.

New York City is not for the faint of heart. It is unrelenting and unforgiving. Especially when it comes to sports.

Had the Shakespearean tragedy that was LeBron’s NBA Finals performance played out under the white hot lights of Broadway, the fans would’ve destroyed him. The same people who cheered his arrival and wore his jerseys would’ve spent the majority of this week coming up with new and inventive ways to profanely scream his name.


The media would’ve chewed LeBron up and spit what was left of him onto the back pages of the tabloids. Pun-filled headlines featuring less than flattering pictures of King James would’ve lined newspaper stands all over Manhattan and columnists would’ve eloquently deconstructed his myth and served it to him on a silver platter.

Recently, Alex Rodriguez spoke out on the need for perspective when judging LeBron James. No one knows more about the scrutiny that comes with playing in the Big Apple like A-Rod. His personal and professional missteps have been fodder for public ridicule, and few people in New York City have used any measure of perspective when judging his career. The Hall of Fame slugger has won MVPs and a World Series ring for the Yankees, and yet it’ll never be enough to overcome his past mistakes.

In a year of questionable decisions, questionable statements and questionable play in the Finals, we should all take a moment to give LeBron James credit for coming to the very correct conclusion that NYC was not the place for him.

It’s quite literally the least we can do.

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Weiners, Sex and Politics

This past Monday I watched Anthony Weiner stand behind a podium and confess his sins to the nation. As it turns out, the infamous picture of male genitalia that had overtaken the 24-hour news cycle last week was, in fact, his weiner (pun absolutely, unapologetically intended).

I’d like to say I was shocked by this development. I’d like to say I was aghast. I’d like to say I believed his flimsy storyline about a rogue agent hacking into his Twitter account and tweeting the photo in an effort to embarrass the Congressman. But I can’t.

Why? Because this is America and engaging in questionable sexual behavior is what our politicians do. It’s what they’re best at.

Colleagues on both sides of the aisle are calling for Weiner to resign, but as of this blog post’s publication, he’s standing his ground and holding on to his congressional seat. Can you blame him? Weinergate is certainly resignation-worthy but it’s small potatoes by American political standards. We’re only halfway through 2011 and he’s not even close to being this year’s biggest scumbag.

Just last week, former U.S. Senator and Presidential hopeful John Edwards was indicted for allegedly using campaign money to cover up his affair and love child from his now deceased wife, Elizabeth Edwards. The affair took place while she was battling cancer.

Classy. 

In early May, former California governor and Last Action Hero Arnold Schwarzenegger announced that he and wife Maria Shriver were divorcing. Shortly after that, it was revealed he’d fathered a love child with the family’s former maid over a decade ago. Now there are rumors circulating that the Governator may have fathered a few more love children.

Hasta la vista, dignity.

Then there’s John Ensign. The former GOP Senator from Nevada resigned in early May, in all likelihood to avoid the Senate Ethics Committee investigation into the extramarital affair with a campaign treasurer. It should probably be noted that this woman was the wife of his close friend and chief of staff. In an attempt to try and keep the affair on the down low, his parents allegedly paid off his buddy and his wife to the tune of $96,000.

WTF?

These are some of the people we’ve chosen to lead us. I certainly don’t expect perfection from our politicians but can’t these ass clowns at least stay away from their friends’ wives or avoid cheating on deathly ill spouses? Is that really too much to ask?

Anthony Weiner will hold onto his seat for as long as humanly possible. And I’m sure he’ll be taking his moves from the Fallen Celebrity Playbook. He’ll go into rehab and/or counseling, follow that up with a mea culpa media tour and then hope people forget about all those lewdly inappropriate twitpics.

If the Congressman has any luck at all, a bigger, more salacious scandal will come to light in the next couple of weeks and completely eclipse his personal problems. Hell, it doesn’t even have to be a political scandal. If the right story came along involving Charlie Sheen, Donald Trump or a Royal Wedding the media would drop everything and start shipping on-air personalities around the globe to cover these non-stories.

And if Weiner does resign, there’s no doubt he’d be back in public life in almost no time at all, if not as a politician then as a highly paid pundit.  And Americans would be all too eager to forgive him. Why? Because it’s what we do. It’s what we’re best at.

Just ask Elliot Spitzer, Newt Gingrich and Bill Clinton.