Opinion – LeBron James: Bigger Than the NBA?

words_Nick Engvall

As a basketball fan it has been impossible to avoid the NBA free agency circus that has overtaken the sports world for the past few weeks. In fact, even though I am the furthest thing from a Lakers fan there is, I pity the team for not getting much attention for their second consecutive championship, a feat that is not easy for even a team as talented Los Angeles. Though I have been interested in free agency, i haven’t been much interested in the LeBron show.

LeBron James: Bigger Than the NBA?For those of us that root for teams that aren’t in the hunt for LeBron, whether he signs with Miami, New York, Chicago, or stays in Cleveland, LeBron will still be the same player who hasn’t led his team to a championship.

LeBron is the best individual player in the NBA today, Kobe used to be but he learned how to be better. Kobe Bryant is ultimately the best player in the league because he has learned that he needs to be the leader of the team.  Sometimes being a leader means doing things behind the scenes, because what happens when the spotlight is not on you is what makes you a champion. Being a leader whether the ball is in your hands or not is what it takes to win.

Not to say that showmanship and entertainment don’t have their place in sports. I am the type of person that would much rather watch a run n’ gun team that is exciting and may ultimately not win a championship, than watch a team that wins without any style points.

Sure, LeBron joining Twitter may be a great way for fans to connect with the King, but choosing to have your own hour-long TV special to announce your decision on where you will play on next season is a little much though. While LeBron is one of the biggest names in the game, and probably in basketball history if all continues to go well for him, there are some side shows to go along with the center ring (insert your own “or lack thereof” joke here) of this circus.

The side shows to this circus, meaning the rest of the NBA, seem like second rate entertainment compared to the main attraction. The way LeBron’s friends Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade announced their plans to sign with the Miami Heat was hardly eventful. The Thunder’s Kevin Durant announced reaching his deal through Twitter, a year before he even reached free agency. Avoiding the frenzy of what would be next off-season’s free agency period sends a message to your team, that you a ready to play basketball. This approach by KD seems professional and perfect for fans, yet completely out of place this off-season.

At least James has chosen to use the proceeds of the show for a good cause. All the proceeds will go to charity. Which I guess makes the ego-centric approach a little less selfish.

However, it makes me wonder why the NBA doesn’t have its own free agency signing show each season the way the draft is held. Would people watch? Maybe not, but some people won’t be watching the LeBron show either.

I guess this does make LeBron bigger than the NBA itself.

The NBA may be where amazing happens, but the LeBron show, now that might just be the greatest show on earth. Watch out Ringling Brothers!



  • I honestly have no problem with the special.

    One, because ESPN is going to dedicate a large block of time to discussing his decision whether or not he takes part in it. Two, because its his moment. We’ve created LeBron. We stuck cameras in his high school gyms. We put that huge block of pressure on his back. And then the moment LeBron takes control of his situation, we call him selfish and arrogant. I think the fact that we all continue to talk about the kid validates this type of event.

    We comment Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade for a low key announcement. However, do they get a pass for bringing cameras along with them to film a documentary during their free agent meetings? An act that was said to irritate several NBA GMs? While they were doing this, LeBron was pretty low key for the last week. You heard a lot about him – because ESPN wouldn’t let up. However, he wasn’t doing interviews on TV or tweeting about the process like Wade and Bosh. He was conducting his business and hosting his camp.

    Yeah, Durant’s was understated – but his free agency is uneventful anyways. Even if he didn’t agree, he’d be a restricted free agent and OKC could match any deal he signed elsewhere. There was 0% chance he was ever going to go somewhere else. Nobody was following this guy around with cameras, making a note of his every move. lol

    I understand why people think this is a spectacle. But his life is a spectacle. And for the most part, not by choice. Nothing he does is like anybody else. We saw that when he was criticized to no end after losing in the playoffs this year. That happens to nobody else in the league.

    That free agency signing show is genius, btw.

  • Elite_kicks:

    Yeah i have to agree,i think the special is a genius move.This was not stunt in any way,this is just the biggest free agent the NBA has seen.I can’t wait to see it tomorrow.

  • TS:

    100% agree w BRich – This is what we made it – LBJ’s hype is our creation.

    Needless to say tomorrow was going to be a media frenzy over LBJ so having a block for him whether there was or was not a special was bound to happen – it’s just happening in a formal medial setting without Baseball Tonight interruptions

    Idk what to say about tomorrow, being a Cleveland fan. Hopefully he stays but if he leaves I’ll support him for being a once in a lifetime player we all have the enjoyment of watching

  • MrT:

    all this hype, all this egoistic approach, all eyes on me. Looks like no more excuse if LBJ doe not win next year. This year was Cav fault next year its same on you if you don’t get it together.

  • permita23:

    i like it. since Mike left, the NBA just been hohum for me. don’t get me wrong i mean Kobe’s up there, so is D-Wade but with LeBron, you’ve got an icon being just that…an icon…taking it even further with the hype, media coverage, etc…going global…i think it’s really good for the league, the city of Cleveland & basketball fans all over in the states and abroad.

  • teemasuoka:

    Lebron is a good NBA icon for kids and people though. Hes a good role model out there plus he has shoes and what not that can be promoted. We made him bigger than life and its showing on the media just because hes changing teams. Its like we’ve never seen some one else get traded before. I understand the hype but i’ve heard enough about these rumors… just announce where youre going already Lebron.

  • oneonone:

    I hate how much hype surounds a guy that gave up on his last two games as a Cavalier. I hate that this guy didn’t shake hands when lost in ’09. I hate that somehow this guy just doesn’t connect to the fans like MJ or to be honest, even like Kobe. And I hate that I’ll be sitting in front of the TV a 9:00 pm eagerly waiting to watch the circus.

    The hype wasn’t created by LeBron. The media created it and we are eating it.

    BTW – there is no way he is staying with the Cavs. Why would he? He got pummeled every year int he playoffs and now they have a new coach with big question marks on how long it will take to turn the team around. If you had to decide on playing through your primo years in Cleveland or joining your friends at a big party at South Beach celebrating a dynasty, where would you go? He sure doesn’t want to pull a Dan Marino who was a great player but never won the big one.

  • big boi:

    watch the haters crowd this page. y’all got nothin better to do?

  • Lem:

    As I read these comments I keep seeing the term, “We made Lebron.” Of course I know that we means the media. However, I believe that this is a bit much. Lebron is a great player true but ultimately that’s it. That’s what he’s good at. Like some of you are good at what you get paid to do.

    I don’t view Lebron, Kobe, MJ or any other athlete as a role model. That in my opinion is ridiculous. You only see a fraction of these guy’s lives. I really liked Michael Jordan when he played ball but he was never my role model.

    The media does play a major role in the hype of athletes but it’s up to the person watching to make a decision as to whether something is worthy of their time. Or in this case their 60 minutes.

  • Nene33:

    I don’t get the hate for LeBron, he’s just taking care of business(and isn’t fuelling any of the madness, if anything, he’s trying to keep it in check), and seems more self-aware, than self-absorbed IMO. I think he’s doing a great job at staying grounded. And probably made the right choice organizing things like this.

  • jmslui:

    What BRich said.

  • CHIEF!!!!:

    i agree with all of you,im just ready to see what the future holds for the star…

  • sean c:

    now….LBJ is the biggest or “greatest” athlete to hit the NBA, he is not a greatest player. he has not won anything. one trip to the finals, from a at the time weak eastern conference. he is not a clutch shooter. he is not the player you want to take the big shot with the clock winding down. D-WADE is, KOBE is. they have rings. the media made him bigger than what he really is. now let’s say he in this special says he’s going to miami, chicago, or new york,what would the people of cleveland think?

  • McMurray223:

    I got money he stays in Cleveland, and that Cleveland makes a move on another name before the summer is over.

  • Tscrooge:

    I’ll take that bet, I’ll put the house on it he doesnt stay in Cleveland. He can make his maxXAND COMPETE FOR RINGS IN BEAUTIFUL MIAMI. It doesnt take a rocket scientist to figure this out.

  • Ryan:

    If he does go to Miami, which it lookz like he will, then I want to see JB and Nike wake up and do a hot (not Chicago hot but South Beach hot) colorway pack. Seize the moment and do something big.

  • riceboy4u:


  • riceboy4u:


  • donovan reid:

    i dont see what the big big deal is about him going to miami they still goin to get blown out by the lakers a big deal would be like if mj came backand scored81 points in his firstgame

  • Bigger than Big . . . .

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