Jewish World Review Oct. 4, 2010 / 26 Tishrei, 5771
It's Not Always Race, LeBron; It Might Be Ego
By Mitch Albom
Really? In the thousands of things O'Brien could have asked perhaps the world's greatest (and certainly its most exposed) basketball player, she had to ask if race was why he was criticized?
Did she ask the same question when James was drafted No.1 out of high school? When he was voted MVP? When he was given more endorsement money than 100 other
No. So why ask it now? There was no suggestion of it earlier. Not even a mention. But no one should be surprised that LeBron's answer was: "I think so at times. It's always, you know, a race factor."
Because sadly, when a high-profile African American athlete hits an oil skid of controversy, it is all too easy to make race the culprit.
Especially if someone asks.A LESS IN POPULARITY
Why not look at the facts without color? Here. Let's change LeBron's name to Leo for this little exercise. Leo was a wildly popular player before this summer. Leo seemed loyal to his team and his home state, trying to bring it a winner. It's a trait that has made many an athlete popular.
But then Leo went on the free-agent market, got together with two big-name players and hatched a plan to leave
He then kept everyone in the dark until he could ensure a worldwide audience for a television special, called "The Decision." He got advertisers to shell out big dollars that he directed to a charity to make the event seem less of what it was, a one-hour celebration of his legend. Of course, Leo could have given money to the charity himself. But that wouldn't have gotten him an hour on prime-time TV.
When asked that night what team he had chosen, Leo did not answer, "I've chosen
So after an hour's indulgence for this "revelation" (remember,
Because ego knows no color.
Whether it's Leo or LeBron.THE TROUBLE WITH EGOS
James' popularity dropped steadily after that event. And recently it was announced that he was the sixth-most disliked athlete according to the latest Q Score. Now, I don't put much stock in polls. But James didn't become internationally famous with only black fans liking him, and he didn't reach this sudden infamy with only white fans bailing out.
In fact, to suggest that white people have some group think approach is racist in and of itself. And you see where this goes. The moment you suggest someone is motivated by a prejudice, you can never prove it wrong, and you can always attack the accuser.
So the Rev.
LeBron now has a boundless ego, he has surrounded himself with people who tell him his feet don't touch the ground, and he can't possibly be at fault for anything.
By the way, there was similar vitriol toward
There is never a clear way out of this mess. But there is one way to avoid jumping in it. Stop asking the question. If people shamefully want to grab race as a parachute to safety, they'll do it. You don't have to pull the cord.
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