As a rabbi, I am often asked to explain my interest in sports. While there are many implications to the question, and the answer is complicated, I will focus on one part of the answer. Sports, at least for those who participate, help teach the value of hard work. More than in almost any area of life, sports teach us that your success is largely determined by how hard you are willing to work.
As I worked on my goal of qualifying for Boston, I understood, that, despite certain factors such as weather being beyond my control, my ultimate success or failure was in my hands. As I trained, the harder I worked the better I became. Each time I failed to reach my goal, I recognized that more was demanded of me if I was to succeed. Ultimately, it took running seven days a week and almost 70 miles per week to get there.
Which brings me to Lebron. I have spent a decent amount of time thinking about the almost visceral dislike that so many people, including myself, feel for him. Lebron wants to be a champion. After several years of pursuing that goal in Cleveland (for all intents and purposes, his hometown), he decided that he could never win there because… of everyone else. His teammates weren’t good enough; his team’s owner wasn’t spending enough money. Everyone was responsible, except for Lebron. So he decided, in his infamous words to take his “talents to South Beach”.
Someone suggested that if Lebron is to get a new tattoo, it should be one of a cart in front of a horse. Dirk Nowitzki, Lebron’s counterpart on the victorious Mavericks, won by working harder. Lebron wanted to get there without the work. Even in defeat, defeat that was largely brought on by his less than stellar play, he could not admit to his own shortcomings. He spoke of the “bigger man upstairs” having other plans (only Lebron could call G-d “the bigger man upstairs”). He spoke derisively of the fans. Again, no sense of his role in all of this.
Ultimately, I suspect he will get his championship ring. To do so, he will need to stop worrying about his teammates, owners and fans. Instead he might want to work on his post moves.