Posted by Neil Paine on July 9, 2010
Basketball is all about sharing, about unselfishness, about legends like Bill Russell doing whatever it takes to win. But apparently it's also about who has the bigger... um, contract.
You see, all we heard these past few days was whether LeBron and D-Wade could co-exist as "Alpha Males", or that LBJ joining Wade in Miami is supposedly something a true "Alpha Male" (ostensibly referring to Kobe or MJ) would never do... It's curious that this hyper-macho view of basketball first began to emerge less than two decades ago, though. Like a commenter said yesterday, the Michael Jordan era was so transformative that we may very well have have convinced ourselves that the MJ-Pippen formula (and the Alpha-Beta designations contained therein) is the only way to view the game. Heck, Bill Simmons even wrote a 700-page book that revises the entirety of NBA history to match that ultramasculine theory of basketball.
Yet in those same pages Simmons also extolled the virtues of "The Secret", which is allegedly about sacrificing numbers, money, and individual glory for team success... Well, isn't what LeBron did last night the living embodiment of The Secret, leaving millions on the table and turning himself into a hometown villain, all for the sake of winning? If Vince Lombardi was right and "winning isn't everything, it's the only thing", then LeBron made the only rational decision last night. But the dirty secret of commentators like Simmons is that winning by itself is not good enough -- you apparently also have to win while simultaneously vanquishing the idea of another male rival sharing your spotlight, because god forbid that another Alpha could possibly question your hoops authority when you're doing all that winning.
Oh, but I forgot, basketball is the ultimate team game, and it's all about sacrificing stats and glory for championships, right?
I guess this LeBron situation provides the ultimate opportunity for people to put their money where their cliches have been all these years.