Lebron Raymone James: For Better or For Worse

LeBron James was just nominated for Time magazine’s Person of the Year honors, and it seems strange that basketball writers and analysts and even James himself was shocked by this. A brief explanation of what Person of the Year is and why James qualifies.

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According to Wikipedia, the Person of the Year (formerly Man of the Year) is an annual issue of the US newsmagazine Time dedicated to the person, couple, event or idea that have done the most influence to the events of the year, for better or for worse.

Time recently released its nominees for Person of the Year which included NBA Most Valuable Player LeBron James in the list.

LeBron James after all was the face of the 2009-2010 NBA Season, or stated differently, the 2009-2010 Season was about LeBron.

When the 2009-2010 NBA Season began, and even before then, NBA insiders and wannabe insiders have been speculating whether or not LeBron James, also known by his monicker as the King, would sign a new contract with his current team the Cleveland Cavaliers or would he move to New York and be the savior of the basketball franchise where James could achieve his goal to be a billionaire in the marketing and media capital of the world.

(JBM216/flickr )

In Madison Square Garden, home arena of the New York Knickerbockers, Knicks fans were ecstatic when King James scored 52 points en route to posting a triple double against their own team! Fans were already imagining the King as a Knick even before the season has ended.

LeBron’s close friendship with New Jersey Nets minority owner, raper and music mogul Jay Z dragged the Nets as a contender for the King’s services. Which was later fueled by the Nets impending move to Brooklyn and Mikhail Prokhorov’s promise of marriage if they would not win a championship in five years.

When the Cleveland Cavaliers lost to the Boston Celtics in Eastern Conference Finals of the National Basketball Association, the whole basketball world was not concerned about the result. What mattered was that LeBron was no longer a Cavalier and the Kings Sweepstakes has begun! Not officially of course, as he remained under contract with Cleveland until the free agency period begins.

When the NBA’s free agency period arrived, the press went into a frenzy! Media coverage of LeBron’s free agency was unprecedented. Everything remotely related to Lebron’s possible decision was aired in ESPN and other networks, written in newspapers and the internet and basketball fans all over the world were reading everything… EVERYTHING!

He was seen as the Jackpot Prize in a free agent class like no other in the history of professional sports. A free agent class which included elite players all in the prime of their careers. Aside from the NBA’s reigning MVP in James, the NBA’s most efficient player in Chris Bosh, All-Star Amaré Stoudamire, and All-Star and former Finals MVP Dwayne Wade, were all free agents at the same time!

People who knew little or nothing about the NBA suddenly knew who Lebron was and the ramifications of what he was about to do: remain in Cleveland and try to win a championship with the only franchise he has ever played for or turn any other NBA team into an instant contender.

James’ marketing group disclosed that the King will announce his destination in an hour-long special, live in ESPN that will be known as “the Decision.”

Off course at this time, fellow free agents Bosh and Wade had already decided to join forces in a gutted Miami Heat team which had enough salary cap for three superstar free agents to form a super team. The Chicago Bulls with the young core of point guard Derrick Rose, Center Joakim Noah and new acquisition Carlos Boozer were also in the running. The Knicks and Nets were long shots but still in the mix. So were the home team, the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The day of the Decision was also the day when LeBron James turned into the villain of professional sports. All because of the way he decided to tell the world that he’s “taking my talents to South Beach and join the Miami Heat.”

The backlash was instant. During the one-hour special, scenes in Cleveland showed fans burning James’ 23 jersey. James was visibly shaken by the scene. One thing was clear: he was no longer King in Cleveland, he was the enemy.

Cleveland Cavaliers’ owner, Dan Gilbert called james a quitter and traitor in an open letter to Cavalier’s fans in the teams website, an antic more common in high-schooler’s scorned by their first loves then in the business world.

Hall of fame players Michael “Air” Jordan, Charles Barkley and Earvin “Magic” Johnson lambasted James, claiming that they will never do what James did and saying that the act was cowardly and not something that a reigning MVP should do.

Those who supported LeBron’s decision proclaimed that James’ decision was the pinnacle of the free agent’s triumph over the capitalist owners. It was a declaration that when the free agent flexes his muscles, it is not just about the money anymore.

For all the people who were seemingly shocked by Time’s decision to name LeBron James a nominee for Person of the Year, one thing should be made clear, being nominated Person of the Year is not about reputation, it is not about whether you make the right or wrong decision all the time, it is not even about talent. It does matter whether it has a positive or negative effect, what is important is that the Person of the Year has influenced the events of the year.

There is no question that LeBron James’ free agency and his “Decision” influenced the events of the year, not only in the NBA and professional sports, but even in the lives of sports fans and households everywhere.

Do I think that LeBron James is at par with 2008 awardee US President Barrack Obama and 2009 awardee Ben Shalom Bernanke, Chairman of the United States Federal Reserve? No. Do I think he is more influential to his trade than the thirty-three Chilean miners who spent 69 days underground? Perhaps. But one thing is certain, LeBron Raymone James is qualified to be named Time’s Person of the Year… for better or for worse.


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