We have a neat photo gallery online of last night's NBA game between the Miami Heat and the Cleveland Cavaliers. This was the first game back in Cleveland for LeBron James. The photos show an irate Cleveland crowd giving the business all game long to James, who, of course, ditched them for Miami in search of a championship ring.
Here are my thoughts:
1. LeBron James has the right to sell his services to whomever he wants to work for. In the old, old days of major league sports, players had very limited rights to change teams. Owners took vast advantage of this. It didn't appear to bother fans back then that their heroes were basically getting hosed because the market was outrageously rigged against them.
2. Having said that, I am reminded of what Jack Nicholson's character, private detective Jake Gittes, in the movie Chinatown, asked the the rich, powerful and dangerous businessman Noah Cross played so sinister by John Huston. "Why are you doing it? How much better can you eat? What could you buy that you can't already afford?"
In other words, James was already making a pile of money in Cleveland, and stood to continue making a ton of money.
3. But the reason he went to Miami was sort of for the same reason the Noah Cross character in Chinatown was engineering a vast scheme to steal water from the farmers in order to benefit his land development plans: "The future! The future, Mr. Gittes," he replied. James went to Miami because the Heat was committed to surrounding him with the expensive talent to win an NBA championship. James has a finite amount of time to win a championship. His future will either be as one of the all-time great NBA stars, or as merely an extremely talented player who never won a ring. In James' calculus, Cleveland was not committed to helping him achieve his goal of immortality. The Cavaliers just wanted to be contenders who maybe might get lucky.
The fans in Cleveland in the photo gallery were booing a professional athlete who made the difficult decision that the company he was with was not as committed as he was.