After the last years NBA Championship won by the Cleveland Cavs, I took LeBron to task on my Blog for his public griping over Draymond Green's swat at his groin that hardly touched its target. I've never been a fan of LeBron's basketball. Not that he's not one of the greatest to ever play the game, but so much of his greatness derives from his amazing physical strength. I know that that's a bogus reason, but it's the same way I felt about Shaquille O'Neil and his back-in-knocked-down-his -defender-to-score strategy. I even wrote a poem about LeBron in my recent collection of poems, Sweat: New and Selected Poems About Sports, in which I compared LeBron to the bull in a bullfight. "...still, you can't cheer for the bull," was the last line of the poem.
Well, that was basketball, and this is about life. In this mornings sports page I read that on the Sports Illustrated cover photograph of LeBron James as Sportsman of the Year, the Cavs star is wearing a safety pin on his jersey. Since Donald Trump's election, the safety pin has become a symbol of solidarity with those Americans (people of color primarily) who fear they'll be disenfranchised by the Trump presidency. I know of no other player in the NBA or any coaches or any NBA administrator or ownership wearing a safety pin. I'm pretty sure the media would have noticed by now. Therefore, LeBron is making a personal and brave statement of his beliefs. Good for you LeBron. When I told my wife about this, her words were, "God bless him." A double blessing, LeBron.
This is not the first time LeBron James has been a thoughtful citizen.
Recently, LeBron James' voice was one of the strongest to urge the NBA to provide a comprehensive free medial & prescription drug insurance for all retired players. Great news, especially for senior citizen players. In addition, LeBron has donated money and time to work on behalf of keeping youngsters in schools. Clearly, LeBron is a man with a strong moral compass and social conscience.
It makes me want to say, "I take back everything I said about your basketball game, LeBron," but of course I can't, entirely because that's basketball. But life has taught me that playing hoops takes up so little of one's chronological time on earth, that who you are as a man in the long run is far more important than hoops. With this in mind, I honor LeBron James.
Here's the poem I wrote about LeBron with a caveat at the end.
LeBron James by Tom Meschery
I'm lying in bed watching the Heat
throttle the Pacers and wondering
why I can't warm up to LeBron James
the way I did to players like Jerry West,
Julius Erving, Magic, Bird, Michael Jordan.
There's no doubt LeBron is the best
basketball player playing today and may
after his career ends, become the best
of all time. Still, here I am hoping
He'll make some gross error and lose
the game for his team. No such luck.
Doing what he does best, he attacks,
driving with such strength, no defense
can survive. His skills made greater
by his strength. I played in the NBA.
I should admire how he plays, but don'
Instead, I'm feeling the frustration
of the opponents, how they must feel,
having worked so hard all their lives
to become great players, the best
in grade schools, high schools, colleges,
top NBA draft choices, now reduced to this:
LeBron making them look like amateurs.
It's sort of like watching a bullfight
in which the bull has not been weakened
by picadors before the matador
steps up with his cape and sword.
In which case the bull is the clear victor,
right? See what I mean? It's not who wins,
you still can't cheer for the bull.
P.S. Except against my Golden State Warriors, in the future, I intend to cheer for the bull.
What my musings are all about...
Blogging might well be the 21st century's form of journaling. As a writing teacher, I have always advised my students to keep a daily journal as a way of organizing their thoughts for future writing projects, a discipline I have unfortunately never consistently practiced myself. By blogging, I might finally be able to follow my own good advice.
The difference between journaling and blogging is that the blogger opens his or her writing to the public, something journal- writers are usually reluctant to do. I am not so reticent.
The trick for me will be to avoid cluttering the internet with more blather, something none of us need more of. If I stick to subjects I know: sports and literature, I believe I can avoid that pitfall. I can't promise that I'll not stray from time to time to comment on ancillary subjects, but I will make every attempt to be interesting and perhaps even insightful.