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Michael Moore is an Academy-Award winning filmmaker and best-selling author

October 5th, 2010 12:50 PM

LeBron Sets a Good Example

LeBron James begins the pre-season tonight with the Miami Heat as they take on the Detroit Pistons in Miami. I saw an article yesterday on the Nation's website that showed LeBron on the list of most hated athletes (spoiler alert: they're all black).

The anger up in Cleveland continues over his defection, and the nationwide sports press has been full of derision since his clumsy announcement on live TV as to where he had decided to play this year. It was sort of an NBA version of "The Bachelorette" -- only one team got the rose, the others were sent away in tears.

When asked recently if all the attacks against him might have something to do with race, he answered that, well, race is always a factor. Uh-oh! And thus began another round of derision, this time for daring to play the "race card."

I think it's time for everyone to get off LeBron's case. In fact, I think he should be praised for the choice he made. IMHO he couldn't have made a better decision than by going to Miami. And he set a great example for young people who follow him and this sport so religiously.

Here's why:

1. LeBron didn't go for the biggest bucks. Are you aware he turned down the biggest check (offered by Cleveland)? Who does that these days? And why did he do it?

2. He also chose to go to a team where he would not be the only superstar. The Miami Heat already had one superstar -- Dwyane Wade -- and just acquired another top player, Chris Bosh. Plus, the team, under Wade, already had an NBA championship ring. What player of James' stature these days decides to go to a team where he has to share the spotlight? Where he'll be one of five instead of the Savior who takes his team to the Promised Land?

Why would he do this?

Because:

A. He wanted to play with his friends. He valued his friendship with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh and thought "this is how I want to play the game -- with my buddies." And his friends, Bosh and Wade, agreed. The three of them agreed to sacrifice around $15 million each over the course of their contracts in order to play with each other, and in order to allow the team to sign more players to complement them and help them win a championship.

Imagine that, someone putting happiness ahead of a bigger paycheck and the adulation that comes with being the team's only superhero. Imagine someone thinking that the team was more important than the individual, someone who thinks in the "we" instead of the "me."

And:

B. He wanted to win. He wasn't going to win in Cleveland and he certainly wasn't going to win in New York. He and his team will win in Miami. Sure, you can live your life in sports and be known forever as one of the greats, but who wants to be Dan Marino, Ken Griffey, Jr., Barry Sanders, Patrick Ewing, or a whole host of others who never got to win the Big One for the team? LeBron didn't want to be Grant Hill. He wanted to be Chauncey Billups. There's nothing wrong with wanting to win. In fact, we live in a time where we have a lot of people behaving like they don't care if they win -- Democrats, Amtrak, certain unions, companies that can't figure out how to plug a 7" oil hole for nearly 3 months, etc. So LeBron wants to win! Great!

And finally, don't forget he's still a kid. He went direct from high school to the NBA and is still only 25. That's why when he made his announcement on that strange night from Connecticut, the first words out of his mouth were, "I’m going to take my talents to South Beach." South Beach! Of course! Not Miami, where the Heat play, but the rockin' jammin' super-cool South Beach of Miami Beach is where LeBron sees himself going. That's because when you're 25 it's not just where you're going to work, it's where you're going to feel ALIVE. Cut him some slack and remember what you wanted at 25. He wants to be with his friends. He wants to be happy. He took less money. And he wants to win. Can someone tell me where the crimes are in that and why he is on the list of most hated athletes?

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