There’s a story on SB Nation about one man’s encounter with LeBron James during a shootaround in Portland, where said guy witnessed some teenager walk up to LeBron James…and grab his ass, complete with “a little more cupping action than usual.” The author of the piece, Ben from Blazer’s Edge, decided that James’ ensuing freak-out was unbecoming of a professional athlete. Picking up Ben’s rant mid-stream here:
James continued his chest-puffing diatribe, occasionally looking back at the group of teenagers. The young men were pretending to gaze out in a different direction, pretending to be invisible. While James’s teammates assured him that the kid surely didn’t mean any harm and that he was probably just wishing the player well, James continued to shake his head, failing to comprehend that someone he didn’t know, someone outside his circle, someone so clearly unimportant, would have the gall to touch him. Him.
SB Nation’s Andrew Sharp drops in with an “amen.”
A normal person would turn and smirk at the kids, maybe laugh a little. It’s part of what makes being a basketball superhero so much fun. Just by letting some kid smack you on the ass, you give them a story that they’ll be talking about for the rest of the night, the rest of the week, and maybe the month. How awesome is that?
But Lebron James gets all huffy, takes off his headphones, and makes a huge deal out of it.
I don’t even know where to start, except maybe with this: LeBron James is not a museum exhibit. He is not a roller coaster ride, and he is not that Ronald McDonald statue on the bench in front of Walmart. He’s a human being, and being able to tune up your J with the expectation of wayward teens from a different city won’t be checking your oil isn’t too much to ask. He deserves that.
There are other ways to wish players well. Fan mail works. Even signs at the game, while intolerable to some, work fine, too. But running onto the court and putting your hands on a player? How is that defensible? Because of his money? Because you see him on TV?
I have a proposition for Ben and Andrew: let me send some teenager to your mothers’ basements* to sneak up on you at work and grab your asses. Let’s see how that goes over. Maybe then you’ll stop expecting athletes to be walking relics, instead of people that get pissed off like everyone else does. Teenagers are idiots anyway.