Jul 10, 2010 12:56pm
By Jason M. Bordui, President, Balanced Growth Enterprises (July 10, 2010)
Thirty minutes after "The Decision" of Lebron James to leave his hometown basketball team, I received a message from my best friend who happens to be a business executive in Cleveland, Ohio. When I went to listen, I thought the message was going to about his disappointment and rage over what Cavaliers' owner Dan Gilbert termed Lebron's "cowardly betrayal." But this was not his message at all. His message was about his absolute excitement that his young son, Jivan, had just hit a two-run home run in an All-Star baseball game. His pride and enthusiasm for his little boy's big sports accomplishment was overflowing and inspiring.
For me, my best friend's message about Jivan, especially given the timing of it, put the lesson of this entire saga in perspective for me. First and foremost, from childhood through the pros, it should be about the love of the game. In 2007, Lebron James basically single-handedly led the Cavaliers to defeat a superior Detroit Pistons team in the Eastern Conference Finals. At that time; Lebron played with raw passion, contagious enthusiasm, and unstoppable dominance. Since that season ended, Lebron and the entire NBA have been consumed with this 2010 free agency period. I don't know what happened in this year's playoffs for Lebron, but it seems plausible to me that thoughts of free agency may have been a distraction to him as there was no way the 2007 Lebron James would have been accused of giving up on his team as he was this past year. Unfortunately, the raw passion for the game that transcends age, race, gender, economic status, and talent-level was compromised in this whole, rather ugly episode.
The same lesson pertains to every person who takes pride in their profession. Especially in difficult times, it is still about the love of the "game" and the mastery of the craft. It is about doing a great job, maximizing potential, creating value, making a difference, and elevating other people's lives. This lesson may not have kept Lebron James in Cleveland, but he might have handled the difficult situation better. Perhaps he could have offered Cleveland and his former team a heartfelt explanation that even a parent would eventually have to accept....he is a 25 year-old young man who was ready to leave home for the first time and go play ball with his friends.