In a primetime special on ESPN last Thursday night, LeBron James became the latest in a series of Cleveland heartbreakers. James’ search for a new basketball home became a typical American supersized soap opera. In Cleveland, understandably, it was “the king is dead.” In Miami the cry was “Long live the King!”
Even after what should have been the soap opera’s last act, Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert – understandably upset – penned a poisonous Comic Sans e-mail about James’ “shameful display of selfishness and betrayal.” Nike began tearing down a 10-story mural of its former hero as fans set LeBron jerseys on fire. Once again, there is no joy in Cleveland.
Yet amid the hoopla in Miami (and nowhere do they do “hoopla” better than in Miami) and the rending of cloth in Cleveland, a small yet important lesson may have been lost. It is a lesson that is as valid in the world of sports as it is in the universe of sales and that all too often it is subsumed by greed.