If you mention LeBron James’ name at a bar, chances are that you’ll get a multitude of reactions. The NBA’s most famous and storied active player has been a sensation on the court for well over a decade now, but he’s also inspired a lot of conversation about celebrity, power, and the changing nature of the modern superstar athlete.
Everyone knows, in other words, that he basically runs his Cleveland Cavaliers, for better or worse. That’s why a recent quote during media availability at the NBA Finals, where his Cavs square off against the repeating champion Golden State Warriors, was so suspicious:
C’mon, buddy. This sort of misdirection is not so much a humble-brag as it is failed obfuscation. By continuing to re-sign with the Cavaliers on one-year deals as he’s done since his return in 2014, James not only maximizes his earning power as the salary cap continues to rise, but he also maintains supreme leverage over Cleveland’s front office.
If LeBron doesn’t like the way they’re constructing the roster around him, or running the organization, he can leave. This perpetual threat gives him a say in the team’s decision-making that is mostly unprecedented. Maybe he’s just trying to deflect responsibility, though, as his team looks to be facing an inevitable Finals loss against the Golden State Warriors, for the second year in a row.