I have been on a fiction binge recently, and just tore through Phillip Roth’s The Human Stain (2000 PEN/Faulkner Award Winner). It’s a great piece of writing on almost every level– I can’t recommend it highly enough. Roth masterfully balances intimate character details with broad social commentary in a way that is never heavy handed nor leaves a detail out of place.
But enough about literature, that’s probably not why you’re here.
I brought Roth to HoopSpeak because one of the novel’s primary themes—America’s particular penchant for persecution of social impropriety—resonated with me in light of the current LeBron uproar. In The Human Stain, the social backdrop is the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal. But the moralistic chirping by Lebron-haters on the street, on TV and online is a bit much.
Here is a passage that sums up my thoughts on the outrage over LeBron’s handling of his free agency.
As Roth describes our consciousness in the current day (my edits in brackets).:
A century of destruction unlike any other in its extremity befalls and blights the human race—scores of millions of ordinary people condemned to suffer deprivation upon deprivation, atrocity upon atrocity, evil upon evil, half the world or more subjected to pathological sadism as social policy, whole societies organized and fettered by the fear of violent persecution, the degradation of individual life engineered on a scale unknown throughout human history, nations broken and enslaved by ideological criminals who rob them of everything, entire populations so demoralized as to be unable to get out of bed in the morning with the minutest desire to face the day . . . all the terrible touchstones presented by this century, and here they are up in arms about [LeBron James]. Here in America either it’s [LeBron James] or it’s [Lindsay Lohan]! The luxury of these lives disquieted so by the inappropriate comportment of [James] and [Lohan]! This, in , is the wickedness they have to put up with. This, in , is their torture, their torment, and their spiritual death.
Roth’s point, almost violently made above, is that there are evils in this world that demand our outrage. Evils that are polluting our coastlines, murdering men by the hundreds each day.
Of course the attention that LeBron garners in the sports world should inspire an appropriate level of disgust or dismay by writers and fans around the country. He is a big deal. But you know what the much bigger deal is when it comes to LeBron’s move to Miami?
That he’s playing with Wade and Bosh! Can we pause to reflect that many NBA fans will be seeing the best pairing of talent perhaps EVER. It’s something positive! Something to be celebrated!
We are going to be lucky enough to watch the two greatest players in basketball play together at the height of their powers. The both have excellent vision and team-instincts. They both are high flying, energy producing, tough as nails competitors.
LeBron may have handled things poorly, but me made the right decision, especially for NBA fans.
Well, unless you live in Cleveland.