Saturday, May 22, 2010

Jim Brown Piles On

In the wake of the Cavalier Debacle, 2010, everybody seems to have an opinion about Lebron's future - from former NBA player and Cleveland native Charles Oakley to former Cavaliers Coach Paul Silas to almost any ESPN, Sports Illustrated, newspaper reporter, and fan with a heartbeat.

So is it much of a surprise that Cleveland's most decorated and arguably greatest athlete chimed in on the matter? Of course not, considering Jim Brown has been known to give an opinion or three on topics related to sports, society, and culture. Brown has had a very positive influence on many young African-Americans since his retirement from football, but the Hall of Famer has also had his fair share of controversy and personal demons. Through it all, the Cleveland fans have supported him, cheering him wherever he goes. That's one of the several reasons his recent comments to a Baltimore radio station are so shocking and hurtful. When asked about Lebron, Brown said:

"I think he's gonna leave, and I think that the treatment that he's getting right now is going to be the motivating factor. You know, it's so unfortunate that a man that's got so much would feel so bad right now because of what he couldn't do. I think he's being treated unfairly. I think the expectations were too high, and I don't think he's gonna stay in Cleveland because of it.

I think as one man, there's only so much you can do, and for people to analyze you and to basically say humiliating things about you, when you've given all those things through the years to that franchise, I think it's an atrocity. . . . If you believe in a human being, stick with them when they're up and stick with them with they're down."

There are so many things wrong with Jim Brown's assessment, it's hard to understand what Brown has been observing over the last 7 years and if he even watched the Cavs-Celtics playoff series, particularly Game 5.

  1. As much criticism as Lebron has gotten locally from fans and media, the venom has been just as bad, if not worse, from the national perspective. Cleveland fans watch Lebron almost every game. Nobody understands just how good Lebron is more than Cleveland fan. The national fans and media saw him inexplicably fail in Game 5... and they pounced.
  2. If Jim Brown thinks Cleveland fan is critical, what does he think New York fan would be like after a Game 5 performance like LBJ had if he was a Knick? Or in Chicago if he becomes a Bull? Our "criticism" would seem like a giant Kumbaya session around the camp fire in comparison.
  3. Is Lebron above criticism? Apparently Jim Brown thinks so. Doesn't it come with the territory of being a professional athlete, especially if you are the reigning two time MVP and one of the best at what you do?
  4. Jim Brown talks of unfair expectations. What expectations are we talking about? Winning and NBA championship and providing maximum effort? Nobody expects LBJ to be perfect. He has certainly "earned" a few bad nights. But that is what makes his Game 5 performance so mysterious. We all saw Lebron have one of the greatest NBA playoff games in history when he scored 25 straight against Detroit a few years back. We've seen him fight to the last minute of Game 7 against Paul Pierce and the eventual champion Boston Celtics. So to see him standing at times with his hands on his hips in perhaps the most crucial game in Cavaliers history was a little perplexing and deserves, if nothing else, some questioning.
  5. Lebron has made millions. He was on the cover of SI while in high school. He's declared that he wants to be a global icon, a billionaire. Oh yeah... and he's arguably the best player on the planet. The expectations, and subsequent criticism, on Lebron are what they are because he is Lebron. I'm sure he could have found a much less scrutinized job, far away from the limelight. But that's not really how Lebron is wired anyway... He LOVES the spotlight.
Chris Rock did a very funny stand up routine in which he talked about men asking for or expecting praise and justification for "being a good dad". "What do you mean 'you're a good dad? You're supposed to be a good dad!" he joked. '

Well, that is how I feel with our "too high" expectations of Lebron. If I could talk to Jim Brown, and had the stones to say it, I'd evoke my inner Chris Rock and ask, "What do you mean expectations are too high for Lebron? He's SUPPOSED to have high expectations!"

Is it crazy of us Cleveland fans to expect an apology from Jim Brown after such an insulting, uneducated rant based on a very small percentage of the fan base? Brown has yet to release a statement to justify his comments. And he probably won't... he probably feels our criticism of him is too harsh and unwarranted.