Shame on all who have given life to LeBronathon

MITCH AL­BOM | DETROIT FREE PRESS

Austin American-Statesman - - SPORTSBRIEFING -

Maybe LeBron James has found a new home. But he’s lost me. I used to ad­mire this kid. I thought he han­dled his busi­ness well. He seemed se­ri­ous about his game, stayed out of trou­ble and was true to his Mid­west­ern roots.

But the last few months have been a theater of gag­ging be­hav­ior that makes me want to run now if I hear the guy’s ini­tials. True, not all the pa­thetic fuss made over LeBron’s free agency is his fault. Much of that lies with our me­dia busi­ness, which has breath­lessly re­ported ev­ery silly ru­mor. Who did he call? What did he wear?

Note to jour­nal­ism stu­dents. When we cel­e­brate in­ves­tiga­tive re­port­ing, it’s for is­sues like war crimes, nurs­ing home scan­dals or po­lice cor­rup­tion. It’s not to re­port that LeBron James has opened a Twit­ter ac­count.

But that was a “ma­jor” head­line Wed­nes­day. And James’ first tweet was Hello World, the Real King James is in the Build­ing “Fi­nally.”

Hon­estly, who calls him­self “King”?

Which brings me back to the man him­self, who, af­ter a few years of rel­a­tive hu­mil­ity, now seems, at 25, to be step­ping onto some as­sumed throne atop the world, like that “Air­ben­der” kid, as if the rest of the planet nat­u­rally should step aside.

Ex­cuse me if I turn my back. I’m sick of the whole story. The num­ber of sup­pos­edly re­spectable peo­ple trip­ping over them­selves to hand him $100 mil­lion should make all of them and many of us ashamed.

Con­sider the pa­rade of rich beg­gars who went hat in hand to LeBron’s cho­sen meet­ing place. LeBron in­sisted his courters en­ter his cham­bers, the way peas­ants once brought sac­ri­fices to the monarch. You had a Rus­sian bil­lion­aire and a rap star. (An­other aside: Can we stop with Jay-Z’s bloated im­por­tance? The guy owns, re­port­edly, 1.5 per­cent of the Nets. And he’s in on the meet­ings? Usu­ally the guy who owns 1.5 per­cent is lucky to be on the mail­ing list.)

Then you had the Knicks, who brought a fi­nan­cial wizard to show that New York dol­lars in­crease ex­po­nen­tially more than Cleve­land dol­lars. From Mi­ami came the once es­teemed Pat Ri­ley, who now seems as in­ter­ested in at­tach­ing him­self to a star ros­ter as he is LeBron. And here came Chicago, so des­per­ate to re­cap­ture the Michael Jor­dan years the Bulls prob­a­bly would sand Jor­dan’s face off his statue if it made LeBron happy.

Then you had Cleve­land, the home team, which spent a for­tune to get James the play­ers he wanted (Shaq, Antawn Jami­son) and still got ousted in the sec­ond round of the play­offs.

Do you think any of these vis­i­tors pointed out, while the world was be­ing laid at his feet, that LeBron has so far been in­ca­pable of win­ning an NBA ti­tle?

No way. They are all too hun­gry to have him spin­ning their turn­stiles. But facts are facts. The guy, right now, can­not win a ti­tle by him­self, or even with a de­cent sup­port­ing cast.

Still, the fi­nal cherry on this ego sun­dae is the tele­vised event tonight, an hour-long ESPN spe­cial at 8 p.m. Cen­tral in which James will an­nounce who wins the right to wrap its money around his ar­ro­gance.

Only in Amer­ica could we keep in­vent­ing re­al­ity TV that fan­tas­ti­cally out­shames the pre­vi­ous low mark. A prime-time event? To an­nounce a free-agent sign­ing? And don’t point out that some pro­ceeds go to char­ity. You want to give to char­ity, qui­etly write a check. Don’t get a net­work to do it for you so it gets to pump its shows and you get to shower your­self in in­ter­na­tional cov­er­age — while call­ing it phi­lan­thropy.

The NBA has em­bar­rassed it­self here. The me­dia have em­bar­rassed them­selves. And a guy who calls him­self “King” may be be­yond em­bar­rass­ment.

Chuck Crow AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

It seems all of LeBron James’ moves have been chron­i­cled in re­cent weeks — ev­ery­thing from his Twit­ter tweets to his meet­ings with suit­ors.

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