After watching LeBron James and Dan Gilbert's version of Cirque du Soleil, scratch that, it was more like the Barnum & Bailey Circus, I was reminded how poorly adults can behave. I mean really, the only thing that was missing in this "dog and pony" show was a dog and a pony, and two mature individuals.
Before I go any further, few people love sports as much as I do. I grew up in an athletic family, played basketball in college, and watched (and learned) my dad coach for over 25 years. I have my favorite teams like anyone else, and I have players that I gravitate to more than others. Players like Derek Jeter, Larry Bird and Arnold Palmer come to mind.These are men that I admire outside of their respective sport as much, if not more, as I do inside their area of expertise.
With that being said, my comments and criticisms are meant to constructive, not destructive; and because of the many mistakes I've made in my life, my remarks are a reminder to me that there is a good way and bad way to act in every situation.
I hope I always want to choose the correct way as I get older.
Now that that is behind me, let me share some of my thoughts.
First, let's begin with "The Chosen One", LeBron James:
The legendary Paul Brown, the once great coach of the Cleveland Browns, once said; when scoring a touchdown, "act like you've been there before." I think we all can agree that James failed at adhering to that piece of advice. What LeBron did accomplish was to show a lack of respect for the process that is called free agency, and for those players that came before him.
One of the most important things that a "superstar" in any sport must accomplish is to display respect for their league, and for its rich history of stars that preceded them. LeBron failed in both of those areas Thursday night. Can you imagine Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Oscar Robertson, or Dr. J behaving in this manner? Even Michael Jordan, with his larger than life ego, faxed "I'm back" to the NBA front office and the Chicago Bulls when he returned from baseball to play basketball again.
At the end of the day, the hour long "drama" show that was billed "The Decision" was a "Bad Decision"....And the kids as a prop was an even worse decision. If LeBron truly wanted to help "The Boys & Girls Club", and I'm not saying that he didn't, then write them a check without any public acknowledgment of your act of kindness and be done with it.
Respect the process and respect those that came before you.
The second thought is the importance of respecting you employer. We all answer to someone, and if LeBron thinks he doesn't than he has bigger problems than I thought he had. Most American's would agree that it is the right, and the professional, thing to do in giving a "two week" notice when leaving an employer. And though I realize that sports figures do not need to give their two week notice they should be in the practice of being professional.
If your owner is calling you, and texting you, have the common courtesy, and the professionalism, to respond in a timely manner.
Just because it's well within your right not to return a person's, your employer, phone calls or texts don't make it right.
Respect your employer.
Lastly, Respect yourself more and praise yourself less. Just because you named yourself "King" really doesn't mean you are one, and if you think you are one then act like one.
Thursday night James acted like a servant, not a King, a servant to his ego.
The most important thing a person must have in their life when they "supposedly" have everything is to have people in their life that will tell them what they need to hear, not what they want to hear. The people that LeBron has in his life that thought Thursday night was a good idea and was the right way to handle the situation must go. LeBron would do well to choose his "PR' team with the same critical eye that he chose his financial team. I really can't believe a "Warren Buffet" type of personality would have gone along with this three ring circus.
Respect yourself more & praise yourself less.
Now let's move onto Dan Gilbert, which should be "Dilbert" instead of Gilbert, for his handling of this fiasco.
As a successful businessman and Dan Gilbert certainly is one, the first thing that Mr. Gilbert should be fully aware of is "this is business, not personal". The fans can make it personal, but a CEO, owner and the leader of an organization cannot.
Gilbert must consider it business. Nothing more, nothing less.
If there is one thing the silver screen gem "The Godfather" taught us it is this one undeniable fact.
James and Gilbert live in the greatest country in the world. A nation that protects your free speech, allows you to bear arms, and to choose your employer, if they're so inclined to choose you.
James chose Miami, Miami chose James...end of story.
I tell my boys all the time; "Don't beg someone to be with you, and if she doesn't want to be with you then grant her her wish...and accept it with grace and class... and then move on."
Mr. Gilbert, James didn't want you...get over it. How do you think Mike Brown felt after you fired him after leading his team to the best record in the NBA? I don't know how he truly felt, but I do know how he responded. He responded with class.
It's business, not personal
The second point is that you never get a second chance at a first impression. LeBron is a global figure. Even the most fringe spectator can identify James in a line up. Gilbert is a regional figure at best; he can walk into almost any restaurant, best buy store, or mall and go unrecognized.
Millions of people (and hundreds of potential employers called NBA players) just met Dan Gilbert for the first time and it wasn't good. He came off like a dumped lover.
Petty, small minded, and a man that is ruled by his emotions.
First impressions last a lifetime.
Lastly, attitude reflects leadership. In this instance Gilbert didn't act like a leader, he acted common. Leaders don't act common.
One of the most important traits, or skill sets, a leader must recognize, and master, is the art of conflict resolution. In another words don't be the problem be the solution. With that being said, I don't think writing an open letter detailing your anger, and calling out the other party is the way to go.
That is like posting on Facebook that your ex is a slut.
LeBron didn't betray anyone; he didn't do anything more than what Gilbert was asking Tom Izzo (a hometown guy that made it big at his Alma Mater) to do, when he asked him to leave Michigan State to come coach at Cleveland....ahh, I forgot...Izzo was still under contract. Did Gilbert think Izzo was betraying Michigan State if he were to leave?
The way Gilbert acted was childish, selfish and immature. With that being said, the "LeBron fathead" for $17.41 thing (1741 was the year that Benedict Arnold was born) was pretty cleaver, and funny.
Still the fact remains, the most important act when dealing with conflict resolution is the act of remaining calm; never letting others know what you are thinking, especially when your emotions are raw. Plus, your kids are watching. Is this the way you want them to behave when they don't get their way?
The bottom line is that the Cleveland Cavalier organization had seven years to build a team around LeBron that could win a championship. They didn't. The best they could do was acquire a washed up Shaq, an overrated Mo Williams, and Antwan Jamison.
Gilbert must recognize his culpability in this situation and move on, and grow up.
Be a leader.
At the end of the day, Nike was right; "We Are All Witnesses"...witnesses to over sized egos, poor decisions and behaviors, and immature adults.
Good luck Cleveland and Miami...your both going to need it for different reasons.
Go Celtics...Beat L.A.