Advice For A Non-Champion: Lessons For LeBron

LeBron James reacts after missing a free throw during the Game 6 of the NBA Finals against the Dallas Mavericks Sunday. (AP)
LeBron James reacts after missing a free throw during the Game 6 of the NBA Finals against the Dallas Mavericks Sunday. (AP)

When LeBron James announced that he was leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Miami Heat, he promised multiple championships for his new team. However, James and the rest of the Heat were unable to clinch the Larry O'Brien Trophy, losing to the Dallas Mavericks. After being eliminated, LeBron James had some choice words for basketball fans saying that the joy felt by those who'd been rooting against him would be short-lived, since their problems would disappear as a result of Miami's loss.

Only A Game's Bill Littlefield has some advice for James, as the basketball star heads into the off-season without a championship, without a trophy and without any humility.

Rule Number One: Humility. Very important. If you can't feel it, learn to fake it. Take a summer school course. Humility means you don't promise a championship, let alone half a dozen consecutive championships. Pledge an effort to win that's worthy of the great and loyal fans who inspire you. Then applaud them. They love that.

This brings us to Rule Number Two: No matter how the fans provoke you, don't strike back by mentioning that while you are young, strong, and rich, they are older, weaker, and much, much poorer, that last in part because they pay ruinous prices to watch you play a game.

Fans want to connect with you, or at least to pretend that they can. You intimated that the people rendered temporarily happy by your failure to deliver on the promise of a championship would soon be prisoners again in their pathetic lives. By doing so, you violated rules one and two and spat in the face of their desire.

In the aftermath of your team's loss, you said, "I'm going to do what I want to do." The implication was that your potential fans wouldn't be able to do what they want to do, because they are mired in a hopeless attempt to make the nut each month. Never mind that this is true. Your fans don't like to be told, even obliquely, that they are feckless clowns lacking not only the physical gifts and dedication that have made you a superb athlete. They don't want to be reminded that their efforts to merely stay even are doomed to disappointment. That, my friend, is why they need sports. You are a diversion. Nobody wants abuse from their diversions.

Rule Number Three: When you win something, as is likely to happen somewhere down the line, do not say, "Hey, all you people who were rooting against me, how do you like them apples?"

If you have to say something, say you never could have done it without your selfless teammates, the brilliant game plan developed by your coach, and, above all, the support of the greatest fans in the world.

But remember that you don't have to say anything. You can just hold the trophy over your head and let a photogenic tear trickle down your cheek…something you might want to think about practicing during the off-season.

This program aired on June 16, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.

Bill Littlefield Host, Only A Game
Bill Littlefield was the host of Only A Game from 1993 until 2018.



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