Originally posted on Waiting For Next Year  |  Last updated 6/11/12

As far as we (and the media) know only one person ever burned their jersey, but this photo lives on.

I don’t know anyone who couldn’t appreciate a great episode of “Behind the Music.” That show was totally predictable, but still somehow fascinating. Artist makes it in the music business. Runs into problems (usually drugs) and ultimately finds some kind of peace, if not continued success after the strife. It is a prototypical human story-line. And of course, now it is LeBron’s episode according to the latest from Brian Windhorst. Windy talks about the personal re-invention that LeBron James has attempted since he hit rock bottom proclaiming haters had to “wake up tomorrow and have the same life they had before.”

Cue the plinky little aftermath music and the cymbal crescendo as we head into happier times and a LeBron James looking for resurrection. LeBron proposed to his girl, moved his family down to be with him in Florida. He basically quit Twitter and apparently stopped reading critics while also embracing an earlier bedtime. As LeBron won another MVP and the Heat smacked the Celtics to head for their second straight finals, it appears to be working. And with all the sarcasm that this Cavaliers fan can muster I say, “Isn’t that just outstanding for everyone?”

My LeBron James defense mechanism was to fight the culture that he was a big part of (if not created) when he treated his free agency like a reality TV show. If it is a me-first culture that he and his NBA cohorts want, then “me-first” means Cavs fans first for me. As a results, I said I wasn’t going to watch any national NBA games that didn’t involve the Cleveland Cavaliers. Other than a brief dalliance with TNT’s offering at a hotel bar when I was on vacation, I kept true to my word. I didn’t even want to muster up the negative energy to root against anyone. I just wanted to root for the Cavs.

I admit that I have buckled a bit and watched some of the playoffs. I’ve tried to enjoy them and, yes, I have been hoping for LeBron James to lose, but not in a really active hateful way. I figure with an attitude like that LeBron James and all his franchise-screwing clones like Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul and (probably) Dwight Howard have won. I just can’t bring myself to co-sign for that kind of behavior. If they are anti-fan and I support their behavior then I am also anti-fan. As a fan that means I’m anti-me. I don’t want to be anti-me and I can’t understand why anyone else would want to be either, at least with regard to their entertainment offerings.

So this guy that we all used to love and pile our hopes and dreams on had a brain fart of epic proportions. He burned down the first half of his career and made it so we couldn’t really enjoy it all. But if what Brian Windhorst is writing is true and the uncaring, selfish, horrible LeBron1 was the temporary persona and now he’s going to get back to being the guy we always thought he was before his head ballooned, what’s the choice for Cleveland fans?

Losing is the only option. If you root for the rock star who kicked drugs and is back on tour to fall off the wagon or worse yet for his bus to crash, you’re a bad person.2 Then again, if you were the original drummer, you got fired and there’s no way for you to profit from the new tour financially or emotionally, what can you do? I mean you might not want the person to die or fail, but you also shouldn’t be able to get any joy out of him figuring his life out while excluding you. ((I get tired of the girlfriend comparison, so I’m just going to call Cleveland fans the fired drummer in an episode of “Behind the Music.”))

I don’t have an answer for anyone but myself, by the way. I am kind of watching, but while I can recognize how incredible LeBron’s performances are, I can’t enjoy them. Regardless of how he turns himself around personally, I can’t co-sign for the league-altering stuff that he and the rest did. I can’t co-sign for what Windhorst refers to as his “tone-deaf” period. The only thing more self-destructive than not moving on and dwelling in hate and negativity is to be some sort of apologist inviting people to treat you like garbage.

So, what’s a Cavs fan to do? I don’t want to see his team win, but I’m not going to waste a lot of energy rooting against a guy. Generically speaking, I hope everyone figures their lives out so that they can enjoy it and contribute positively to society. Right now, LeBron James figuring it out doesn’t help me one bit though. Good for him, though, I guess. Until such a time where LeBron James has a chance to help me as a Cavs fan, I’ll work hard at being ambivalent.

That’s what watching sports is all about, right? Making emotional deals so you can respect yourself and still maybe extract a bit of enjoyment. (Sigh.)

___________________________________

  1. The one who was not only willing, but eager to hang out with Jim Gray… nobody wants to hang out with Jim Gray. He somehow made Pete Rose really sympathetic.
  2. I’m looking straight at you people who root for ACL injuries or worse. There’s no justification for this kind of stuff ever. It isn’t even shocking as much as it is trite and disgusting. At least shocking can be interesting. When “shocking” becomes trite though? It is one of the worst forms of expression.
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