LeBron James is very aware that you are aware of his existence.
In fact, he’d like to make you more aware of his existence if he can. When you’re thinking and talking about LeBron James, his brand is thriving. When his brand is thriving, he’s selling merchandise that will wet his beak. Even if you dislike him, keeping him in the daily conversation is something that benefits his image, tarnished or not.
Bad publicity is better than no publicity and all that jazzy cliché.
So when LeBron James attempts to flirt with his old city, there is a calculation behind it.
James qualified it all by saying he’s happy playing for the championship-contending Miami Heat. But making his third return to Cleveland since his high-profile free-agency departure, hard feelings seem to be thawing from James’ perspective.
“I think it would be great, it would be fun to play in front of these fans again,” James said after the Heat’s practice Thursday at Quicken Loans Arena.
“I had a lot of fun times here. You can’t predict the future. Hopefully you continue to stay healthy. I’m here as a Miami player and I’m happy where I am now but I don’t rule that out in any sense. If I decide to come back, hopefully the fans will accept me.”
It’s planting a seed of acceptance in the back of the city’s mind and even if it goes awry, he’s found a way to get you discussing him once again. I don’t think this is an inherently evil or even entirely devious method of advertising by LeBron either.
Call it ego, call it selfish, call it issues of wanting to feel accepted based on his upbringing; whatever you want to call it, I’m sure there is a significant measure of honesty in his statements. From his perception, it’s very possible he feels like the fans of Cleveland are moving on and being more receptive of who he is and what he’s done. I’d imagine that when he’s back at home in Akron, he’s greeted mostly with fanfare and acceptance.
In LeBron’s reality, things are moving forward and vitriol is being diluted on a daily basis. And maybe that is true to some degree. For many Cavs fans, they don’t want to be LeBron’s old team anymore. They are excited about Kyrie Irving and where he could potentially lead this franchise. They’ve gone through their year of hurt feelings and the remorse felt from the rigmarole.
But moving on from a relationship and wanting to get back together are two entirely different things. Nobody has ever accused LeBron of being too in touch with reality. Last year, it’s possible that his actions and the poor advice he accepted and practiced from his inner circle put him in a bad place mentally. Over the last few months, he’s showed us a decent effort at wanting to make amends with those he “wronged” and the way he handled things. He’s coming out and admitting mistakes about how everything went down and that shows a certain level of maturity we would not assume he was capable of during the aftermath of The Decision.
That maturity clearly only stretches so far at the moment though. LeBron wants to be friends with Cleveland again because that is what he’s used to being. Cleveland on the other hand just wants to move on and focus on their new and exciting relationship. This is the part of LeBron’s existence that he can’t seem to understand. At a certain point, both parties just need to move on and no longer revisit what used to be.
This certainly isn’t an easy thing for LeBron to accomplish when he’s being asked by the media what it’s like to come back to Cleveland and if he misses it and would he like one last one night stand for old time’s sake. At certain times, you’re going to slip up and not say the right thing.
LeBron isn’t a bad person, in my opinion. He’s just not a person that knows how to deal with what he and his people have helped created. A lot of that is on him and the people around him. They all should know better and realize that humbleness and humility doesn’t come from accolades. Any time he and his peers are awarded for their on-court actions, they claim to be humbled by the recognition. Unfortunately for him, most of us know it’s a load of guano.
And yet, I can’t help but feeling a decent chunk of that lack of recognition stems from attention we continue to give him.
I don’t believe it was nefarious but I believe LeBron wants a reaction from the people of Cleveland, either good or bad, because it sparks a discussion about him. When you acquiesce by beginning to rant about why you don’t even want to consider the possibilities or don’t want to talk about him at all, he gets what he wants. When he gets what he wants, it enables him to continue such a baffling and frustrating thought process from someone we want to finally understand the gravity of his actions within the sporting world.
In moments like this one, the best thing we can do is ignore LeBron’s comments and just let them float away into nothing. After all, if LeBron is aware that he can no longer just say anything in order to get publicity and attention, maybe he’ll start troubleshooting and figure out the right things to actually say.