James set troubling precedent
To the editor:
As basketball icon LeBron James has completed the 18th season of his historic career in the National Basketball Association, I would like to take this opportunity to reflect on the impact he has had on the great sport of basketball and professional sports overall.
James, who also has been referred to as “The King” and “The Chosen One,” was selected No. 1 in the 2003 NBA draft by his hometown team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, following his graduation from St. Vincent-St. Mary High School that year.
During his stellar career, James has been selected as a regular-season most valuable player four times; was a four-time MVP of the NBA Finals (twice as a member of the Miami Heat and once each with the Cavaliers and the Los Angeles Lakers); a 17-time NBA all-star selection and a member of the Team USA basketball squad, twice winning the gold medal in the Olympics.
As a member of the Cavaliers, of which I am a lifelong fan, where James played from 2003 to 2010 and again from 2014 to 2018, he led the team five times to the NBA Finals, including four in his most-recent stint with the Cavs, winning the title during the 2015-16 season.
However, not all of LeBron’s actions during his professional career, unfortunately, have been strictly positive, such as his highly orchestrated departure from the Cavaliers following the 2010 season in a televised national event called “The Decision,” when, after long testifying to his loyalty to the Cavs franchise and its fans, announced without any prior warning that he would be “taking his talents to South Beach” to play for the Heat, promising that he would win, essentially, a decade of championships for his new team. However, after four seasons with the Heat, James returned to the Cavaliers, which he promised was to be “permanent” — his final NBA destination.
Sadly, after four seasons in his second outing with the Cavs, who appeared in the NBA Finals all four years, including winning the NBA championship during the 2015-16 season, James decided to again leave the Cavs to play for the Lakers.
In his first season there, the team failed to make the playoffs, and he decided not to participate in the remaining scheduled games, approximately 20 percent of the regular season, to rest while continuing to receive his incredibly large salary in full, while season ticket holders, many of whom undoubtedly bought tickets primarily to see him play, were not offered a refund by the franchise.
James, whose yearly basketball salary is approximately $30 million, which translates to more than $350,000 per regularly-scheduled game, set a troubling precedent which has been followed by other NBA stars.
In conclusion, in addition to his fabulous, on-court Hall-of-Fame career, James has seemingly made it acceptable for super star athletes to place themselves at a much higher priority than their franchise, fans and their sport, which created the opportunity for them to become national, as well as worldwide celebrities with near-unprecedented wealth and recognition.