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Layups: Chuck Klosterman/Bill Simmons Podcast on LeBron

Posted by Neil Paine on August 3, 2010

I'll admit I've been critical of Bill Simmons' initial take on the LeBron "Decision", but I criticize because I care: whether I agree or disagree, I'm a big fan of Bill's work (he certainly gives me a lot of topics to work with), and I especially love it when he has author/pop-culture guru Chuck Klosterman on the B.S. Report because those two seem to bring out the best in each other. Yesterday, he and Chuck had an extremely thought-provoking conversation on the subject of LeBron, raising a number of great questions (one being, if LeBron doesn't care about his legacy, does that make him more or less of an "Alpha Male"?). I strongly recommend that everyone check the discussion out -- if nothing else, it will give you food for thought.

18 Responses to “Layups: Chuck Klosterman/Bill Simmons Podcast on LeBron”

  1. P Middy Says:

    "Maybe these guys were trying to decide where to have a party, and Dwayne had the nicest house."

  2. Jason J Says:

    Wade's house is Stately Wade Manor, and LeBron is some Dick Grayson mutha%#*@ moving in with him from the orphanage who he's training to be his sidekick. The Batman analogy has no holes in it. Except for how much better LeBron is at basketball. Other than that, no holes.

  3. Neil Paine Says:

    Very true, Wade/James would be Batman/Robin only if Robin were the World's Greatest Detective.

  4. Jared Says:

    LeBron should embrace this idea that shirking responsibility is the new confidence.

    I know plenty of guys that have that type of confidence that doesn't care if they let people down or back out of their word.

  5. Neil Paine Says:

    Gosh, and here I was thinking that a free agent's responsibility to a club ends when his contract runs out...

  6. P Middy Says:

    I can't wait till the season starts. There will be a whole lot of shutting-up going on.

  7. Jared Says:

    Neil that would all depend on the free agent. If you have a guy that says he wants to win in Cleveland and bring those fans a ring and also says he doesn't want to be a ring chasing guy, then there are times he gave his word and set goals and then balked on it.

    Not only that, but maybe he took fans that loved him and believed in him and totally humiliated them on national television.

    Is that part of the new confidence? We have another word for people that don't care about the effect of their actions on others and don't care about societal mores. We call them sociopaths.

    I know plenty of people that don't care about giving their word and breaking it later because a better deal came along even if they led you on to believe they were committed to helping you. But I never heard that spun as confidence on their part or a positive.

  8. yariv Says:

    "Neil that would all depend on the free agent. If you have a guy that says he wants to win in Cleveland and bring those fans a ring and also says he doesn't want to be a ring chasing guy, then there are times he gave his word and set goals and then balked on it."

    He didn't commit to anything, it was very clear. He refused to give any answers to questions about where he'll play this year, how is this a commitment? Of course I don't know if he gave his word in any private manner, but I would guess he didn't, why would he? The Cavs decided to try everything they had in an attempt to keep him, betting on their future, but this is their choice.

    I won't defend his style (the actual anouncment), but he had the right to make this decision, and there is nothing wrong with it, except going against the perception on many people (perception of the NBA, athletes in general an James specifically).

  9. Dan Says:

    I wonder how many people who bash LeBron for switching teams feel just as loyal to their own (current) employers...who wouldn't want to have a job that requires you to play b-ball with some of your best friends? Who happen to be some of the best in the game?

  10. Jake Says:

    Exactly, Dan. Anyone in LeBron's situation would have done the exact same thing. "You mean I can leave this shit hole Cleveland, live in Miami, party with naked waitresses at clubs, and play with my friends? Or, I can stay in cold, gross Ohio and run with Mo Williams, Anderson Varejao and Boobie Gibson again while I pretend not to plot their murders for keeping Delonte West's affair with my mom from me. I think I'll be taking my talents to South Beach, thank you."

  11. marparker Says:

    I like to see things that have never happened before. I'm rooting for the first player-gm trio to stick it to the league, players, and fans. I'm sick of great players depending on owners to hire competent gms. Playing for sorry GM's his whole career we never got to see what Kevin Garnett was capable of. We called him sorry and soft. Turns out he might have gone down as an all time great if not for Kevin McHale. There are too many other similar situations to count, but it happens too often. I appluad Lebron for taking the decision out of someone else's hands. Imagine a world where we get drafted by financial planners. How many of you would willingly stick with Bernie Madoff when your contact was up? How many of you would run straight to Warren Buffet if he had a spot open? How many of your peers would be jealous of your luck?

  12. P Middy Says:

    It's been interesting listening to Simmons go from being completely down on LeBron for moving to the Miami Heat, to slowly understanding what it means to have 3 players of that caliber on one team. I've noticed the same narrative shift going on in message boards like this, tv commentary, blog posts, and news columns. Klosterman, on the other hand, seems like he's been on-board with the move for some time now.

    As Simmons and Klosterman astutely point out that this has to do with their individual stances as emotional and "atheist" sports fans. There are many, many hardcore sports fans in places like Boston, Chicago, New York, Pittsburgh, Phili, the list goes on and on. For many years they have carried the cache of being "the true fans." They were defined by loyalty and obsession.

    Sports (and in particular ESPN) has perpetuated the idea of them being "the true fans," because they are most likely to watch sporting events, most likely to buy tickets, merchandise, and create buzz among their peers. But just as great players have lost sense of permanently tied to an organization, more and more fans have gone "atheist," like Klosterman.

    And I can certainly identify. The last time I cried because of a sporting event was when the Blazers lost to the Bulls in 92. I was 13. But even then, it was because of a player and not the team. Clyde was and is my favorite of all time. After that heartbreak, I learned to grow a (in my opinion) healthy distance between my emotions and sports.

    Of course there are exceptions. They are on the cusp of sports, but I cried when Guerrero and Benoit died. Or when Mohammad Ali lit the Olympic Torch. But those moments transcend sports.

  13. Mo Says:

    If Lebron was as secure as Klosterman implies, he wouldn't own a shirt that says "Check My Stats". Nothing about the way Lebron has carried himself in this offseason indicates to me that he's confident, but rather the opposite.

  14. marparker Says:

    Mo (williams?),
    Klostermann's point was that Lebron isn't afraid to do things that bring him under scrutiny. He wears Yankee hats in Cleveland, he dunks on little kids, he doesn't give a F what you or me think. IMO, thats true confidence because he eschewing the need for followers. He doesn't need to be liked.

  15. Mo Says:


    I understood Klosterman's point. However, the offseason actions of Lebron seem to be similar to that guy who responds to, "So and so is really smart" with "But I have an excellent theory on finding the Higgs Boson particle". Yeah he may be good, he's extraordinarily insecure. I think a lot of Lebron's offseason actions are probably due more to the incompetence of LRMR than a conscious eff you. I don't have a problem with what he did in Miami, but rather the way.

  16. P Middy Says:

    Well, you won't get much argument there, Mo. I don't reckon anyone thinks The Decision was a good idea. Maybe the Boys & Girls club and LeBron and his posse. Otherwise, the damning of that move has been so universal, there has been no discussion of it.

    However, in my opinion, too many people have transferred their dislike of that event directly to the free agent move itself. Not to mention all the arm-chair psycho-babble about his manliness and the time-machine predictions of LeBron's career (which is a mere 1/3 of the way through) going down the tubes.

    At the center of Klosterman's argument is that LeBron's free agent move, like everything else he's done since hitting the spotlight, has been about himself. Getting what he wants, when we wants it, how he wants it. He doesn't care about the fans, the franchises, or much anything else but himself and his people. Personally, I'm not inclined to celebrate that aspect of his personality, but I think Klosterman is right on. Those so-called responsibilities that "true fans (see my post above)" shove on athletes - LeBron cares nothing for them. Whether that's confidence, cold-heartedness, or both, I do not know.

    And has been pointed out before, numerous times, which one of us would pass up a correlating opportunity in our lives due to loyalty to our current employer and their customers? Hell, what employer would expect that of us?

  17. P Middy Says:

    addendum: Personally, I dislike "true fans." Any ideology that clouds reason and objectiveness has no place in my life. I don't think you can be a "true fan" of one team, and be a true fan of the sport, because you will always put the good of one part ahead of the good of the whole.

    Not that it matters much. We are talking about pro hoops here :)

  18. Phil Says:

    About 12 years ago, David Halberstam wrote a book called, Playing for Keeps. It was roughly a biography of Michael Jordan and the culture surrounding him. Superb book. In it, Halberstam details how MJ and others felt a sense of obligation to the team that drafted them and the city. They were all caretakers to the game. This book, written while Lebron was in junior high, detailed the passion and competitive fire of MJ, as well as his loyalty. MJ couldn't stand Jerry Krause, was surrounded by Sam Vincent, Brad Sellers, and an endless supply of backup centers, and yet, he signed an 8 year extension in 1987/88.

    People need to wake up to the notion that there were more prideful and noble sportsmen 20 years ago. People also need to start realizing that arrogance off the court does not equal confidence on it. LBJ's handling of things may display a brash cockiness, but it shows an abundance of insecurity of his abilities ON the court. And he's a basketball player by occupation, so his on-the-court confidence and integrity is all that matters to me as a fan.