Gabriel Garnica
Obama is Lebron without the ball skills
By Gabriel Garnica
December 2, 2010

After reading piece upon piece describing how Lebron James' current experience with The Miami Heat leaves something to be desired so far, I must admit that I was both amused and glad. For one thing, I became sick and tired of hearing people like Jesse Jackson depict any criticism of James as racism. While the notion that any liberal would whip out the race card faster than a winning lottery ticket should not shock anyone, its application in this case seemed even more ridiculous than usual. For one thing, fellow African-American athletes like Michael Jordan expressed their own displeasure with the way Lebron James packaged his decision to leave Cleveland as this century's key move. Secondly, much of the criticism directed at James was clearly aimed at the manner in which he basically dumped Cleveland for a warmer climate, perhaps more in terms of likely success than weather-wise. While liberals again may not realize that blaming everything on racism is itself racist, an arrogant, pompous move is just that, regardless of one's race. Finally, many of these sports commentators noted how past stars like Jordan, Magic Johnson, and Larry Bird did not so blatantly seek to shy away from being the center of attention in a struggle for a championship. A few observed how these stars stayed in their initial team, struggled through a lack of a supporting cast, and had the courage and patience to wait for their golden moments to arrive through normal trades and enhanced team chemistry.

James' current struggles have been depicted as an illustration that while he has undeniable talents, being a teammate who makes others around him better and is able to mesh well with others has never been one of them. By contrast, the players noted above, more often than not, were praised for their willingness to promote the team concept while displaying their great talent. Former Giants great Carl Banks recently expressed the opinion that, in his eyes, James sucks the air out of the team concept. The reader will note that Jordan and Banks, two well-known sports celebrity critics of James, are African-American. If we believe Jesse Jackson, are these men racist for daring to criticize Lebron James?

I do not know if Lebron James will ever win a championship. I guess he will someday given his two buddies in Miami, but it may not happen as soon as often as some may have thought the day these three posed as if they had already won five. Sports seem to have a good way of humbling the arrogant, and this is no exception. I agree with those who believe that James' greatness would have been more respected and admired had he stayed with Cleveland, and had he refrained from bashing us over the head with his big decision. In the end, he is a very talented but extremely self-centered and possibly even selfish athlete whose entire agenda seems to be maximizing his brand while minimizing his risk. Many argue that James wants to be great while protected from total responsibility for that greatness, and I agree. He had managed to go from being one of the most popular athletes in the country to one liked mainly in Miami and either disliked or detested most elsewhere.

I think that the reason for this fall from grace is simply that Americans tend to most admire greatness that respects teamwork while facing responsibility squarely. We dislike those who seek the limelight while hiding under the bed, who are so desperate to attain glory that they are willing to twist themselves into whatever shape and situation will gain them that glory. In other words, greatness attained or sought by arrogance, self-entitlement, selfishness, deception, or cowardice is not greatness at all but only an empty trophy embraced by those too small to fill their own self-perceptions. The popularity and relevance of such people has a very short shelf life in this nation, not necessarily because their approach is seen as wrong or immoral but because noble, humble or unselfish greatness is so much more appealing and good copy.

Conservative readers may wonder if I forgot to mention Barack Obama and liberal ones will somehow still pretend not to understand what this piece has to do with him. The more I think about it, Barack Obama is Lebron James without the ball skills. Sure, the media loves to depict Obama as this athletic, cool, suave Joe Campus who can cause listeners to swoon while hitting a three-pointer. Of course, we recently found out that Obama required stitches for a basketball injury, but this is predictably presented by the media as the result of his athletic participation. Imagine if George Bush had suffered a similar sports injury. He would have been portrayed as clumsy or over his head.

Even the most casual observer and, hopefully, even the most delusional Liberal, will be willing to admit this media gives Obama more passes than Joe Montana ever lofted to Jerry Rice. We are bashed over the head with his alleged greatness and expected to genuflect at his every utterance while ignoring his verbal and political stumbles. Like James, Obama has sought to insulate himself from criticism and responsibility. Like James, Obama is depicted as this revolutionary figure who will shift the tide of their respective fields, be that basketball or politics. Like James, Obama is seeking an ultimate greatness that ignores obvious blemishes. Like James, Obama does not exactly embody teamwork, given his history of partisan moves and willingness to depict Republicans he must work with as enemies. Like James, it appears that Obama's litmus test for anything is exactly how it portrays him more than how it affects others. Like James, Obama seems obsessed with himself and his own relevance. Unlike Obama, however, who has compared himself to Abraham Lincoln, Lebron James, to his credit, has not yet informed us that he is the reincarnation of Jordan, Bill Russell, or Wilt Chamberlain.

Many argue that James arrogantly and very publicly betrayed his home town to feather his cap. Likewise, many keen observers point out that Obama has very arrogantly and publicly betrayed his nation to feather his own cap internationally. Obviously, both James and Obama are often insulated from criticism on the grounds that anyone daring to question their path to question must necessarily be a racist, despite the fact that both men have often been criticized by African-Americans.

James and Obama; Obama and James. One gifted with basketball talent and the other gifted with a presidency by a combination of a massive media propaganda machine, poor opposition, and enough naïve voters swooned into participating in a watershed political and social election. Both men have been sitting in their own adulation for so long that they have long since forgotten that, without concrete and constructive results, such praise is just unfulfilled hype. So far, both have proven themselves all too human, all too vulnerable, and all too flawed. The only difference is that James has a long contract in Miami, does not have to appease the entire NBA, and has some real ball skills. Obama has a contract that could be up in two years, has to appease an entire nation, and most likely plays pickup with people only too eager to pretend he has game. James may ignore his coach, cause his coach to get fired, and dig in his heels rather than adapt and win. Only the future will tell which way Lebron James goes. As for Obama, the more he digs in his heels and ignores the American people, the less likely his pet media will be able to protect him from an unconditional release in two years.

© Gabriel Garnica


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
(See RenewAmerica's publishing standards.)


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