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July 12, 2010

Lebron James Made the Right Choice

http://www.jewishjournal.com/blog/item/lebron_james_made_the_right_choice_20100712/

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I cannot tell you that I am not disappointed. I was all ready to go out and buy my #6 Bulls jersey. But the man who will probably be formerly known as “The King” decided to leave DRose, Noah, and Big Boozer to fend for themselves and form a super trio in South Beach. Forget about all the false reports, I felt in my gut he was coming to the Bulls. Every sports writer thought it was the smart play. The team is stacked and just missing that centerpiece that would’ve meant a dynasty. But James decided not to come to the Windy City. Maybe it was living in MJ’s shadow. Maybe it was because Chicago is and will always be a Bears town. Maybe it was because he never wanted to have to choose between Lou Malnatis or Barnaby’s pizza. I guess we may never know the real reason.

Since Thursday everyone has commented on “The Decision.” Sports bloggers, websites, and even non-sports writers have suggested every opinion possible. Most outside of Miami have been critical of James. And while I think people have the right to be disappointed, how can people be mad? Hundreds of players have left teams. Jordan played for the Wizards for heaven’s sake. People are just sitting there bashing James’s decision. They hated waiting for an answer, they ripped into “The Decision” on ESPN, and bashed his choice to join DWade and Bosh. I mean it is almost as if people are taking this personally, not just each city but individual people as well. Seriously, why would you burn his jersey? You do not know him. And even if you did the man is allowed to choose what he wants and for whatever reason he wants. Granted I am upset because I dreamed of DRose alleyoops to James for the next 5 years. But still what gives me the right to call him a jerk or decide what is best for a 25 year old basketball superstar?

For once the rabbi in me wants to give a Jewish thought on this topic. The Talmud teaches, “He is executed with strangulation, and then receives a portion in the world to come; however, one who shames his fellow in public has no portion in the world to come.” And the Rambam agrees stating, “better for one to hurl oneself into a fiery furnace rather than shame his fellow in public.” Embarrassing someone and speaking poorly about people you do not know are two things the Jewish text take issue with. Say what you will about his basketball decision, but Lebron James did not do anything to anyone personally. To Cleveland you might feel betrayed, but seriously it would have been a mistake for him to stay. He would not have won championship(s) there and it is a small market. He is not a bad guy. He is a man, just like any of us, who made the best decision for himself.

I firmly believe we are overlooking one aspect of his decision. James skipped college. He went straight into the spotlight, probably quicker and to a larger degree than any other athlete ever. He played in a smaller city. He probably missed the chance to be part of a fraternity like a college team. In 2008 he got a taste of that frat life with Team USA. James missed that feeling/experience. By joining DWade and Bosh in Miami, he gets to play with his friends. It does not seem to me it is just about winning for James, it is about being with the guys. It is about enjoying the game while he plays it. It is about the 21 hours a day he is not on the court. That is why I believe James chose South Beach, just so he can have the college experience he missed out on. I cannot fault him for that. I cannot be mad for him wanting what is best for him, even if that means he will be wearing a different black and red.

And Let Us Say…Amen.
-Jeremy Fine
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