What LeBron Can Teach Us About Tiger
With the recent media circus surrounding the NBA free agency "hot list" coming to a head tomorrow evening when LeBron James announces his intentions for the 2010 season, basketball fans in New York, Miami, and Chicago wait with bated breath. Much of the anticipation is focused on his announcement, a small amount focuses on the "losing" teams, however one thing is for certain: King James has the sporting world by the you-know-what's.
What's this? Basketball discussion on a golf blog?
Believe it or not, there are many similarities that can be drawn between how James has handled this free agency period and how another high-profile athlete handled his "offseason". As an article on SportsIllustrated.com by Michael Rosenberg states, the one thing that LBJ has gotten in the middle of this entire media circus is adoration... and a LOT of it.
Flashback time! As WaggleRoom.com's Ryan Ballengee also pointed out in a recent article, we have already seen this self-indulgent press conference before in February when Tiger Woods made his first public appearance since becoming the hottest topic on TMZ.com. What was Tiger hoping to gain from "admitting" his wrongdoings in the face of the world (and his mother)? Adoration, and possibly a little sympathy.
Instead, what Tiger got was anything but adoration. In fact, he didn't gain anything from making his "shame" a public spectacle for all to see. While he tried everything he could to remain in control of his apology, even down to the fact that no questions would be asked following his prepared statement, nothing was more evident than the fact that Woods felt above and beyond the normal, every day PGA professional. But... is this really that far from reality?
Back to LeBron. Tomorrow night, in a move orchestrated more by James than ESPN (but maybe by just a little), an individual will steal the attention of the sports media away for ONE FULL HOUR while he presumably will announce his choice of team for next season. And for what? Why go through the spectacle of an ESPN Special to make a statement that should last no longer than 5 minutes? Adoration, and the overwhelming need James has for it.
As Rosenberg points out in his SI article, James has long been compared to Michael Jordan, both in terms of talent and marketing appeal. However, from a purely superficial standpoint, James should be a better player than Jordan: he is taller, stronger, bigger, faster, and a beter shooter at 25 years old than MJ was at that same age.
Similarly, Tiger has long been compared to Jack Nicklaus both in terms of talent and marketing appeal... although golf back then is nothing like what it has grown to be today. And, again from a superficial aspect, Woods should be better than Jack for the same physicial characteristics as addressed above.
Why, then, does Tiger and LeBron feel the need to take over their respective sports in a manner that can only be seen as selfish and self-indulgant?
Perhaps the one trait that Jordan and Nicklaus had that James and Woods will never touch is all the answer we need: the old guys did it first, and the newcomers will always be second-fiddle.