Last night Lebron James made one of the biggest decisions in NBA history. He chose the beaches of Miami over the hometown crowd of Cleveland. For most of you, this was an exercise in narcissism, so naturally this decision brings about all kinds of hate and spite towards one player. My initial reaction to the one hour special, the referring to himself as Lebron James or King James, and to the entire two weeks that led up to “the decision” was somewhat interested but ready for the madness to be over and to focus on more important things, like oil on the beaches of Miami.
To think that any athlete is not looking out for number one is crazy. There is a reason why 96% of Americans have regural jobs and only a select few play a professional sport. Some of it has to do with ability, but a lot of it has to do with ego and selfishness. There is a reason why these guys are where they are today, they looked out for number one and got what they wanted. I really have no problem with what Lebron has done up to this point, that was until he started talking about his real fans. At that point me and Lebron need to talk.
The NBA analyst were chomping at the bit to talk with Lebron (but wasn’t it weird how Jim Gray didn’t seem to care at all) after “the decision” and they played into the game by throwing up softball questions to let Lebron stroke his own ego a little bit more. But an expected question that was met with a very curious answer stuck out to me. Lebron was asked about how he expected the fans of Cleveland to react? His response (loosely quoted) “I expect my true fans to continue to like me.” At that moment, when I heard that response
I knew that Lebron was missing the point. Here is why.
Sports are always a team game. Therefore, fans cheer for teams. Sure they have their favorite player(s), but usually that player is tied to a team. Now when a franchise or sports team leaves town to go to another market the fans instantly hate the owner. Why? Because they took their beloved team away from their city (see the original Cleveland Browns move to Baltimore to become the Ravens). But when a beloved player leaves town the fans usually transfer their frustration to the player not the team or owner. So the outpour of frustration with Lebron is fair because he has left the team, not the team leaving him. A player is never bigger then the team. There were fans before the Cleveland Cavaliers drafted Lebron James and there will be fans after the Cleveland Cavaliers lose Lebron James. So to say that your true fans will still love you and cheer for you is ludicrous. Lebron has showed himself to be more concerned with himself then the team. When athletes make it more about themselves then the team it brings up all kinds of emotions that hit way to close to home.
Now here is where I think it all gets interesting and I ask that you stick with me on this one. The celebration of celebraties has always been around. Its something we all do and partake in. Not just hollywood celebraties or even professional athletes but celebrities inside the Christian world. We have our favorite speakers, musicians, and even bloggers that force us to fumble words when trying to speak to them, drive thousands of miles to hear them speak or play, and make us check out computers every day to see what they have written on their blog. I do not think there is anything wrong with following these Christian speakers, musicians, or bloggers, but where it gets dangerous is when we stop focusing on the team and instead on the “player.” Go back to what Lebron said, “my true fans will continue to cheer for me.” Neglecting the idea of the team, Lebron is only concerned with the people that cheer for him, not the team. The same can be happen inside the Christian sphere, cheering more for the celebrity then the team.
Lets face it, Christianity is the oposite of selfishness. In fact we are called to love those we hate, care for the poor, and die to ourselves. One of my favorite parts of scripture is found in 1 Corinthians 12 where it talks about the body of Christ and how we all play a part and have a role.
I think often I get caught up in being worried about what is best for Kyle Reed (or as I like to say: Kyle the Great) and not worried about the body of Christ. I get caught up in who I know, who I talk to, and how high I can climb the ladder of Christian influencers. I must confess that I need to be a better team player. That Lebron James has forced me to repent of my sin of idolatry, coveting, but more importantly Lebron has called me to repent of my sin for focusing more on the celebrities of Christianity then Christ.