LeBron James IS more than an Athlete…and Nothing Beyond his Brand.

PBM channels his inner Jeru The Damaja to dissect LeBron vs. Daryl Morey.

 

After ya let Jeru’s poignant words sink in, turn to this random Twitter user’s tweet that was cited today in several Apple News articles:

“No more King James – Chairman James from now on.” 

Sheeeeesh! What a rough week for LeBron James, and what an even worse week for his now-defunct “Global Icon” blueprints. In case you missed it, LeBron called Daryl Morey “misinformed” following Morey’s tweets in support of the criminally oppressed people of Hong Kong. Morey did this right before the NBA’s pre-season trip to China (which included LeBron’s Lakers), and it turned to be quite disastrous for the league’s relationship with the Chinese government. Morey’s tweets, albeit ill-timed, were poignant and directly aligned with the thinking of anyone who steadfastly advocates for social justice, equality, and for essential individual freedoms to be available to all of mankind . They were the tweets of a man with a moral code, and someone whom choses civil liberties in favor of big government and/or big corporation’s agendas.

For those who aren’t in the know about what’s happening in Hong Kong, I suggest you read this piece: https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/9414104/relationship-conflict-between-china-hong-kong/

What’s transpiring between China and Hong Kong is one of the few bi-partisan issues allowed by the insanely contentious nature of the modern social scene. In today’s radically divided and fanatically argumentative global political climate, there is almost always two unwavering sides to every major sociopolitical issue. This is what a social systems theorist would call “the divide of two warring factions.” The way to find balance in two warring factions? It’s quite simple, actually. You must try to find or establish a single deviant party – i.e. a person or group of people who’s public sentiment and/or political motivations are indefensible when dissected underneath the cognitive microscope yielded by either side of the equation. LeBron James, by his own hand, has become a single deviant party.

Upon receiving the appropriate backlash for his idiotically insensitive and morally bankrupt stance on the nature of Morey’s tweets, LeBron backtracked his original remarks and stated Morey “could’ve waited a week” to press the send button.

He did not specify whether Morey waiting to send the tweets would’ve been better for his team’s safety while playing in China, been better for the NBA’s revenue agreements with China, or been better purely in relation to his own commercial interests. The unwritten contextual importance of that tweet is that it aligns with wanting Morey to keep quiet in order to allow LeBron, his Lakers, and the NBA to collect funds now presently unavailable to them for the foreseeable future. It appears as if NBA’s business dynamic with China is seemingly forever altered, which is the negative commercial result generally associated with radical efforts for social change in an extremely capitalist society.

With all of these developments taking form, LeBron STILL hasn’t quieted himself when it comes to this issue. Today on ESPN’s “First Take,” a press conference aired where he once again poorly addressed his verbal miscues! LeBron ate more crow while astonishingly coming across as even more grossly intellectually / socially incompetent. He voiced his growing desire to avoid a “word or sentence feud with Morey,” and did nothing to silence a rather large mass of humanity that is calling him out for his heightened usage of tone deaf, uneducated, and irresponsible language.

Side Note: I believe the expression you were searching for LeBron is a “war of words.” Despite butchering the common tongue, this was the smartest thing you’ve done yet in your most recent, self-created PR nightmare. A “sentence feud” with the MIT-educated Morey is as one-sidedly geared for his strengths as a game of 1-on-1would be for yours.

When searching for a pop culture comparison, I went to back the well of “The Wire.” I’m pretty sure I’ve cited this scene before. I think I did so in terms of either LeBron or Kanye West (my LeBronye blogged has aged really well, BTW) being a corporately designed false idol, but that’s neither here nor there. The fact at hand is that I can find no better on-screen equivalent to capture the current embattled nature of Chairman James. His insatiable ego coupled with his obsessive desire to be proclaimed a “king” and a “global icon” caused him to drift way too far out of his lane one time too many, and most people aren’t watching idly this go around. In the quote below, the socially conscious, self-aware sect of the world is playing the role of Avon Barksdale as LeBron James seamlessly steps into the shoes of the morally reprehensible Stringer Bell:

2019-10-15 (1)

Side Note: It pains me to compare LeBron to one of my favorite evil characters of all-time. But think of it in these terms – I LOVE great villains. My love for great, self-aware villains is matched only by my HATE for hypocritical, self-righteous “good guys.” LeBron is what I loathe, and his recent missteps finally provide concrete proof his true colors. Also, I feel like I’ve already written this side note in another one of my many anti-LeBron blogs…

Avon’s words are just too damn perfect. They summarize exactly where LeBron rests in his poorly conceived quest towards being remembered as not only the “GOAT” hooper, but also as a brilliant artist, a socially conscious leader of men, and as a globally renowned commercial “icon.” LeBron, by his own hand, is going to be remembered as none of these things by the educated masses. Who are the educated masses, you ask? Those whom generate critical analysis rooted in a sound educational foundation and read critically constructed commentary from a variety of sociopolitical angles fit the bill. Apologies to those only read “practical shit,” but we don’t take to your kind here. It just so happens that PBM fits the lowest of these standards, and I also have appropriately sized platform at my disposal. Tough breaks, Bron.

No matter how hard Chairman James has tried to star as the heroic protagonist of an impossibly uphill personal success story, a journey unlike any before his time, he has succeeded only in creating a confused brand identity that is strikingly similar to a number of other great athletes. In LeBron’s misguided efforts to be remembered as an amalgamation of Ali’s impeccable moral standards and MJ’s iconic commercial value, he has merely become a legendary hypocrite. LeBron tried as hard as he possibly could to be an extension of the legacies of Jim Brown, Kareem Abdul Jabaar, and the aforementioned Muhammad Ali – I truly believe he did. Unfortunately, due to his lack of self-awareness and the absence of a legit, foundational education, he wasn’t afforded the wisdom to understand that in order to be mentioned in the same breath of social justice pioneers, you have to sacrifice an inordinate amount of personal commercial gains. Quite simply, in order to be “more than an athlete,” you cannot be driven by your “brand.”

As an athlete and as a brand, LeBron is bound to specific regulatory bodies. These regulatory bodies form “the system.” The system’s governing forces are the NBA’s operational modalities (including ethical principles, financial bylaws, and more) the personal viewpoints of the owners of the NBA’s franchises, the NBA league sponsors as well as the individual team sponsor’s stated revenue goals, and lastly the way in which the objectively biased media outlets covers LeBron’s contributions to the NBA (both on and off the court). The athlete LeBron obsessively compares himself to, Michael Jordan, did not transcend these impenetrable, commercially controlled systemic boundaries. He became a stakeholder within them.

Jordan’s form of the impossible (his escape of corporate puppet strings) was never and will never be truly grasped by LeBron. It’s something that is wholly unique to MJ as an athlete (thus making him an “icon). Jordan’s star power and on-court dominance was so incredible that he was able to ascertain enough wealth to become a member/facilitator of the regulatory system described above. That said, there is a largely ignored yet inherently vital component of Jordan’s unparalleled rise to iconic status. Jordan kept his mouth shut in relation to any subject matter outside of what recently transpired on his field of play. He used the system’s respect of that steadfast loyalty to maximize his personal financial gain, and thus allowed for the system to absorb him as one of its cogs. The same system that Brown, Ali, and Kareem consistently advocated against with righteous political actions and social justice advocacy, was and is wholly adhered to by Michael Jordan. This adherence bred MJ’s iconic place within in said systemic constructs, just as being advocates for infrastructural change bred iconic statue for Brown, Ali, and Kareem.

As a reference point, Shaq, Magic, Kobe, and other NBA greats have thrived in or “sold out to” the NBA’s regulatory system in ways similar to Jordan. They have not nor ever will join MJ as a governing member of system that created them. Each accomplished too little on the court, all haven’t matched MJ’s earning potential, and all have done too much in the way of documented public controversy. LeBron also isn’t going to match MJ’s basketball achievements (despite what ESPN or several NBA talking heads will have you believe). MJ dominated like only Russell before him, and had no peers come close to his performance as a winner or his loyalty as a leader. LeBron is ahead of his peers only in terms physical gifts and the cumulative statistical dominance available to him via those gifts. LeBron’s loyalty issues need not be mentioned here…

From a purely financial standpoint, LeBron most certainly can’t match MJ’s iconic earning potential – compare their shoes’ values on StockX or just try and think of the national ad campaigns both men have starred in. Jordan has/had Nike, Hanes, Coke, Gatorade, McDonald’s, Wheaties, Chevy, and more. LeBron? I can think of Sprite off the top of my head. Ultimately, a universal understanding that MJ dominates LeBron as an earner is punctuated by acknowledging Jordan’s 1.9 billion dollar net worth. LeBron’s personal fortune, while impressive, is less than a 1/4 of that and rests at 450 million (nestled in between Kobe at 500MM and Shaq at 400MM).

All that information brings us back to the quote from Avon Barksdale, because as of today, both literally and figuratively, LeBron James is both an athlete and a brand without a country. He isn’t smart enough or hard enough to do all of his talking on the court (despite his unmatched physical tools), and he most definitely is not smart enough or hard enough to embody an action-oriented existence built on sacrificing personal gain for socially significant, positively oriented systemic change. In the words of the kids, unsuccessfully trying to trademark Taco Tuesday “ain’t it, bruh.”

Wow. Having rested my case in terms of the basketball court’s verdict on “The Case of the GOAT” months ago, it feels awfully good to finally close his case in the court of public opinion as well. I’ll let you determine your own verdict – PBM’s prosecution rests.

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: