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Scott Lax Blog

Regarding LeBron James

Every now and then I write here about something other than writing and reading. Since so many have made their thoughts known about LeBron James and the entire psycho-drama that's been going on in Cleveland, Miami, New York City, New Jersey and Chicago, as well as throughout the world of sports entertainment (not exactly the same things as "sport"), here are my thoughts as a life-long sports fan.

LeBron James has already told us what his priorities are: himself and his family (and by this he means financial security, which he's already reached, so this would more accurately mean financial fortune, as in becoming a billionaire, his stated goal); and winning.

The team that he's played with, the Cavaliers, like any team he eventually plays with, will be a means to his end of winning - for his legacy and his pride. That's fine. But that's not about the team, and it's not about the city of Cleveland, or Miami, or Chicago, or New York. It's about him winning, and the team he hopes to win with would be along for the ride.

Again: he's already said what his priorities are. Winning and making as much money as possible. It's not about the city, or its people. If it was, he'd have signed with the Cavaliers months ago.

What can a writer learn from this? To listen to what people say and, in general, believe them, or not believe them. Make that choice. In James's case, he has said all along what his priorities were. I chose to believe him. So he'll go where he thinks he can achieve those two ends. He's never said he was a saint, or the savior of Northeast Ohio. He's called himself "King James." That means he makes the rules.

Why try to figure him out? He's already told us what he's about, and been very clear. He's about himself and his family. If he goes, he'll still contribute in various ways to his home town of Akron. He'll try to win and make the most money wherever he plays. He'll move his brand. If he stays, it will be because he believes he can achieve his goals in Cleveland. The aspect of winning, but having to share the stage with players such as Bosh and Wade may make him think twice about playing with other superstars; but that, I think, is the only mitigating factor of playing in a "supergroup." (Which don't have great success, in general, whether in music or sports, for the obvious reason of ego -- with a few exceptions. See Crosby, Stills and Nash or the old L.A. Lakers. Then again, that was a very different time. Players weren't brands; they were athletes.)

I hope Cleveland sports fans don't get too sentimental about King James. He's not sentimental about you. Pro sports, as much as I love them, have virtually nothing to do with loyalty or team. Those are only mentioned when teams win. When they lose, they'll do whatever they have to do to make the most money they can in the next year, whether that means paying through the nose to win (like the Yankees do every year, and with a Cleveland owner, no less), or shedding players to decrease their payrolls and up their cash-flow (like the Florida Marlins did after they won the World Series in the 1990s).

Sorry, sports fans. Whatever happens with LeBron James, this isn't your father's pro sports anymore. In nearly all cases, with owners, players, advertisers -- with everyone but fans -- it's about the money.  Read More