Saturday, July 3, 2010
Lil' Bro Lebron
Basketball fans have anticipated the Summer of 2010 for three years. Stars aligned creating a scenario where several of the most internationally known athletes can change teams if they so choose. At midnight two evenings ago the bell rang and jockeying began. High powered executives and silver tongued pitch men ogled the jocks as they presented glamorous offers and cushy salaries. Whether they stay or go, the world is watching with baited breath.
One bidding war dwarfs all others. The push for the greatest athlete alive: LeBron James. At 25 years old LeBron is arguably the most famous ballplayer in the world, and at the moment is unintentionally (or intentionally) holding the entire sports world hostage. As I'm typing this he is undoubtedly sitting in a dark room somewhere listening to rich old men beg him to come to their city. They're flattering him. Coaxing him. Bribing him.
What's currently messing with my head is the fact that LeBron could be my little brother. I could have spent 1984-1990 beating him up like any good elder brother would. And spent 1991-2091 getting demolished by him. This kid is on top of the world right now, but he hasn't even been on the planet as long as me! And I'm certain that there were multiple years during the eighties and early nineties where my life situation was a lot better than his.
LeBron grew up in a single parent home only four hours from my house. While I was slogging out Jr. High he was scampering around an elementary school playground. If I lived slightly southwest I probably would have invited the poor kid over for sleepovers. I think we would have been buddies, and I bet he would have really looked up to me (except for the height part).
It bugs me to think of an innocent adolescent kid turned Idol of the Universe. Poor guy. I remember how arrogant I became when I started speaking on stages and influencing people. I can only imagine what it feels like to be stuck in a freakishly athletic body, forced to play his role as a once-in-a-generation superstar. He might think he loves it now, but success messes with your head.
It's hard to enjoy normal life once you develop a sense of superiority and entitlement. Simple pleasures don't work, and a gaping hole is left where adulation and achievement used to be. I bet that's why there's so much depression among retired athletes, movie stars, and business moguls.
I feel bad for LeBron. I really do. I wish we were friends so I could encourage him. I can't imagine the pressure he feels, or the fear of failure. Even if he could kick my butt at eleven, it would be worth it to have his trust now. And after Fourth of July fireworks and a relaxing night of hanging out, I think he'd ask for my advice about where to sign.
"It's simple," I'd tell him, "go with the Russian billionaire."
Just kidding. I'd actually tell him to sign with the Rochester Razorsharks so we could hang out more. Did you know they actually made him an offer?