Nike's "The LeBrons" commercials have shown us all the focus-group tested sides of LeBron James's corporate-manufactured personality: There's Wise LeBron, Business LeBron, Athlete LeBron and Kid LeBron. A new character seems to be emerging for James's third post-Decision appearance in Cleveland - Contrite LeBron.
"I think it would be great, it would be fun to play in front of these fans," Contrite LeBron said Thursday when asked about suiting up for the Cavs again some day should the opportunity arise. "I had a lot of fun times here. You can't predict the future. If I decide to come back, hopefully the fans will accept me."
James not unexpectedly qualified this statement by saying he's happy in
Our ex-lover had a more interesting response when asked if he would play for Cavaliers' owner Dan Gilbert, what with the niggling little matter hanging between them of James embarrassing Gilbert on national TV followed by an...impassioned response from that worthy, which included a capitalized, bold-faced guarantee that the Cavs would win a championship "BEFORE THE SELF-TITLED FORMER 'KING' WINS ONE."
LeBron has not spoken to Gilbert since the July 2010 free agency period, but claims he doesn't hold a grudge against his former boss.
"He said what he said out of anger," James said. "He probably would want to take that back, but I made a mistake, too. There's some things I'd want to take back as well. You learn from your mistakes and move on."Cup your ears and get out your shoe-phone decoder, folks, and you may hear an actual apology in there somewhere. James similarly danced around an apology to
That interview and James's more recent comments reek of a man trying to sew up the threads of a tattered image. It's hard to imagine someone who knew he was the face of
OK, perhaps James expected some backlash from
And yet...it's easy to strain James's actions through the colander of our cynicism and hatred. His words, dare I say, seem tinged with sincerity and real regret. He's like that guy you know who wants everyone to like him, even after he mindlessly shunts you aside. If James is genuine here, it's because he's easily manipulated and incredibly naive.
Manipulated by Pat Riley, by a legion of sycophants and handlers telling him he can do whatever he wants without consequences, by glad-handing big shots like World Wide West whispering "global icon" into his ear. James got caught up in his own hype, and is now discovering that playing for a demanding hardcase like Riley in front of
Who knows? With enough time gone by, James spending the last year or two of his career here ala Jim Thome is not an impossibility. Gilbert is a businessman first and no fool. If he sees money to be made from LeBron coming back, it's easy to see it happening. Whether
For now, let's root like hell for Kyrie Irving and these new Cavs, who may not be far from playoff contention themselves. LeBron will say what he will, and the news cycle will move on. Only James knows if those talents so publically taken to