I often talk about sports. I refer to examples in politics too. The main reason I talk about both is that they are such public examples of effective and less than effective communication.
Sports is a public example of protecting one’s value or not protecting one’s value, of communicating one’s value or doing a poor job of communicating one’s own value are easy targets to point out and to pick on whether the reader is a sports enthusiast or not.
The world in 2010 knew about The Decision. My dog, blind and deaf at the time, probably knew about The Decision. Basketball fans in arenas across the country from Los Angeles to Chicago booed LeBron. He disappointed a city, two actually, and countless fans who believed in him to deliver a championship, or at the least make an otherwise ordinary team, competitive.
What caused the jersey burnings and city to ALMOST burn was not the decision to leave. It was the Divorce. The public-on-TV-announcement-to-the-world that he was divorcing the CAVS and taking his talents to S. Beach. A year of vitriol followed.
I AM GUILTY.
I blogged for a year my vitriol for LeBron. I plotted his return to the Q in that first game back. I BLOGGED AND blogged. I blogged about witness and QUITNESS. I BLOGGED until a year later I had nothing left to say.
I was in the car listening to sports radio when THE LETTER was read. The I’M COMING HOME letter that like a magic wand put back together a geographic entity that wanted to embrace their Ohio son. I pulled over to the side of the road and sobbed. That night I drove past his house to see the throngs of families that wanted their presence to be noted by THE KING.
Whether it was the New York Yankees baseball cap he wore to an Indians game, Game 6 the quitness game, the rumors, The Decision, the return, CAVS Living Legend Campy Russell never wavered in his calm support of LeBron. When I asked him about quitting in GAME 5 against Boston, Campy simply asked why I would say that. When I expressed disappointment that LeBron had not brought his Olympic Gold Medal to the Q for his CAVS family to see, I seemed more disappointed than Campy.
The universe pretty much agrees that LeBron had every right to leave. Like a kid going to college, it was even perhaps his birthright. How he did it the universe pretty much agrees did not protect his value as a person or player.
At the time I blogged and blogged, I could not see an alternate universe.
I could not imagine a time I would feel differently. Campy, the wise soul, could imagine that time. Never too low, never too high, Campy always finds that middle ground. I couldn’t see any middle ground. You either hate LeBron or you shouldn’t live in NE OHIO as a sports fan. It was that simple to me.
Nothing is that simple. The I’M COMING HOME letter showed me that life will take twists and turns that we can’t foresee: our crystal ball does not work. I cheered for him in the Finals his first year and I cried for him as a 2016 NBA champion.
The journey came full circle when I was asked to write a speech to introduce him. Here was this villain I had focused on for one year. Every week for one year I focused on everything he did and said that was wrong. Now I had to make words represent a world that so wanted to embrace him.
I was wrong.
I couldn’t see a bigger picture. Campy was right. Always even tempered he never saw anything as irreparable. LeBron was right to go where he wanted to go. He could have communicated that message more effectively.
The lessons to be learned are the lessons our parents taught us in Little League or elementary school. Don’t burn any bridges, don’t get too high or too low, and get good counsel.
Leslie is a contributing blogger for JenningsWire. Read more posts by Leslie Ungar here.
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