Bryant Gumbel Blasts LeBron JamesCourtesy of HBO Sports, I received advance copy of Bryant Gumbel's closing remarks from tonight's episode of Real Sports, which airs at 9 p.m.:
Finally tonight, a few words about championship rings. Just when did they become the all-important barometer of who does or doesn't count in sports? When did they supersede personal excellence or exemplary character as a standard of greatness?
I got to thinking about that the other night after the self-anointed chosen one, LeBron James, embarrassed himself as he tried to make his decision to seek rings in Miami sound like a search for the Holy Grail. It's when he essentially admitted to placing a higher priority on winning than anything else.
LeBron's decision is typical of our immediate gratification era, but it flies in the face of history. Even though he never won a title, Dan Marino is still the biggest hero in Florida. And in Boston, all those Celtics championships are dimmed by the unforgettable brilliance of Ted Williams, who never won anything. In Chicago, Gale Sayers and Dick Butkus have legendary status despite playing on losing teams. And even in the NBA, where guys seem obsessed with being viewed as "the man," real men like Barkley, Ewing and Baylor are ringless, but revered.
Despite such evidence to the contrary, LeBron James seems to think he needs a ring to change his life and secure his legacy. Maybe he'll get one, maybe he won't, but it's probable that no amount of rings will ever remove the stench he wallowed in last week. LeBron may yet find that in the court of public opinion, just as putting on a tux can’t make a guy a gentleman, winning a ring can’t make one truly a champion.
It is sad and inexplicable that LeBron James boldly trumpets how loyal he is and he claims that he is willing to sacrifice money and statistics to potentially win championships in Miami yet he blatantly quit during the 2010 playoffs when the Akron, Ohio native had a tremendous opportunity to lead his (quasi) hometown Cleveland Cavaliers to a championship; it will truly be ironic if James never gets closer to winning a title than he did in Cleveland from 2007-2010 when the Cavs made one Finals appearance and twice posted the best regular season record in the league with a deep, talented and well balanced roster coached by a defensive-minded head coach.
posted by David Friedman @ 2:52 PM