Friday, May 25, 2007

Karma Gets You Everytime

As the sayings go: "No good deed goes unrewarded," "No bad deed goes unpunished." Now that they are down 2-0 in the Eastern Conference Finals, LeBron James is getting a good dose of bad karma. "Where does his bad karma stem from?" you ask. It has nothing to do with James' ridiculous amount of physical ability. It is not related to him passing up a shot in Game 1. It is not related to the fact that he missed a game tying shot in Game 2. It has nothing to do with the LeBrons and the memorable commercials that he has made with his 3 alter egos. No it is more serious than that. Let me introduce you to Ira Newble. Most of you probably have never heard of Ira Newble before and you have good reason not to know his name. Newble is used sparingly for the Cleveland Cavaliers. What Newble lacks in ESPN top play highlights, he makes up for in character. He "recently helped draft an open letter to the Chinese government, condemning its role in the ongoing genocide in Darfur. Everybody on the Cavaliers signed the letter except for James and Damon Jones. James said he didn't have enough information about the issue to take a stand. Mr. Jones wouldn't comment."

As the article points out, LeBron James' reason for not signing the petition is strictly financial. I know for sure how popular LBJ 23 is here in China. At all the Nike stores you see huge pictures of Kobe Bryant, Yi Jianlian, and King James. While Damon Jones is a professional athlete who refused to sign the petition, his reluctance does not have the same affect as James'. Being an athlete of James' stature carries certain expectations from society as well as his peers. But it also helps sway other naysayers who are reluctant to join in a protest. Just think about the affect it would have in China if Nike's biggest star signed a petition against China's involvement in Darfur. It could possibly help motivate other athletes to add their name to the list (for the record I've added my name to the list).

But I digress from my initial point of this entry. While searching for LeBron pictures, I came across a rather interesting one from It has a very interesting quote that seems very ironic at this moment: "When I look at myself, I'm not representing LeBron now. I'm representing the league, the city of Akron, the city of Cleveland...I'm not going to disappoint nobody." Well, Mr. James, I am sure that if most of the people of Akron and Cleveland knew about your lack of interest in Darfur, they would be very disappointed. But this kind of sports news doesn't make the top 10 list on ESPN's Sportscenter.

I think it is sad when our bright, young, black athletes refuse to think about something outside of the millions that they are making and think about something that makes a difference. Yes, many donate money to foundations in America. That is very admirable, but how many get involved in foreign affairs. Most importantly, how many are involved in issues that plague Africa daily. You have players such as Dikembe Mutumbo that go back to their roots and do so much. He'll never have the same acclaim as a player as LeBron James but when it comes to matters of the soul and helping where its needed, he will always outshine LeBron.

The article goes on to talk about another HUGE star, Michael Jordan, and how he refused to endorse a Democratic candidate in the 1990 Senate race. Its the same case when the color green becomes the most important color. Should every star athlete try to fix every problem in the world? No. I am not endorsing that idea. I am not saying that LeBron should try to single-handedly try to end the genocide in Darfur. That would be impossible. I am simply asking why can't our brightest stars do something so small, that takes so little time and will do so much good? Jordan didn't endorse a Democrat because "Republicans buy shoes too," but do you think the sales of his shoes would take a hit just because he backed Harvey Gantt in his attempt to unseat ex-segregationalist Jesse Helms in 1990? In my opinion, his sales wouldn't have been hurt that much (especially since 1990 was the beginning of the MJ era).

Back to LBJ 23, would adding his name to a list of people really hurt his Nike sales in China? Perhaps he is missing the point: PEOPLE ARE DYING! "Chinese invest a billion dollars a year in Sudan and purchase two-thirds of its oil. Proceeds from these sales help fund the Arab militia known as the janjaweed, which continues to murder, rape, and dismember non-Arabs in Sudan's western region of Darfur." But he doesn't have enough information about the situation. I have defended LeBron so much this season but now I can honestly say I am disappointed in him. He may not have let Akron, Cleveland or the league down, but he has definitely lost a fan in me.


Anonymous said...

I am going to play devil's advocate real quick:

I find LeBron's statement to be admirable. Why should he rush to take a stand in something that he has no information about.

Furthermore, LeBron is a basketball player. Why can't we let the man just play basketball? I understand that entertainers seem to have more pull in society, but doesn't that strike anyone as assbackwards? Why are we not pressing our political scientists and government leaders in these issues? This reminds me of the bit from Dave Chappelle where he talks about MTV interviewing Ja Rule after 9/11... "Quick! Someone get ahold of LeBron James!"

Now I understand that he is an icon, and that comes along with some responsibilities - but I just don't think politics, at this point in his life, for a man who has not yet even attended college, is a proper arena where he should take an uninformed stance.

In the end, the sad reality is that only the politicians will have the final say. No amount of protest from LeBron James (or the Dixie Chicks, or whatever the celebrity of the day is) will accomplish anything except a quick ESPN and CNN story that will fade from memory in about a week's time.


Anonymous said...

"When I look at myself, I'm not representing LeBron now. I'm representing the league, the city of Akron, the city of Cleveland...I'm not going to disappoint nobody."
This statement is not ironic. He clearly states that he won't disappoint nobody. If he doesn't understand double negatives, how can he possibly understand world issues. Maybe he should spend more time using the basketball attached to his neck.