The Duke of Akron


Michael Wilbon on LeBron James’ disposition.

A former league executive, a former coach and a current general manager all told me LeBron is one of the most spoiled and coddled players of this generation and as a result isn’t particularly accountable, as evidenced by his refusal to shake hands with the Orlando players after they whipped him in last year’s Eastern Conference finals. It’s a particularly disappointing thing to hear repeatedly because, if true, it suggests LeBron has this AAU mentality that values individual accomplishment over winning. I could live with hearing this about, say, O.J. Mayo, but LeBron James?

via Michael Wilbon – Will LeBron James make a basketball decision or a personal one?.

I would have disagreed with this until the time between the Cavs dominating win over the Bulls and humiliating defeat at the hands of the Celtics. Larry Bird was a contemptuous guy, he was not friendly with competitors nor a big post game hand shaker, but he was also a team player, clutch and a winner. He played to win championships. Same with the magnanimous Magic Johnson. He played to win the biggest glory.

I thought Lebron was at this level until he held the pep rally to celebrate his MVP award in his hometown of Akron between the Bulls and Celtics series.

As everyone at this pep rally now knows, Rajon Rondo’s Celtics pounded the Cavs out of the playoffs, Cavs Coach Mike Brown into the unemployment line and James into free agency. This rally may just be a going away party which makes a fool out of everyone involved.

I have to wonder why James didn’t accept it in Cleveland pre-game or at half time like many other league MVP, defensive MVP, scoring title and 6th man of the year winners. There would have been ample time to visit Akron with an NBA trophy. I remember Kobe saying LA was now his home when he beat his closest thing to a hometown team, the Philadelphia 76ers in 2000 for his championship. I don’t remember Dwayne Wade jumping to Chicago to have a pep rally when the Heat won in 2006. It’s unfathomable to think that such pageantry would ever be something conceived by or associated with Tim Duncan.

The Celtics and Lakers are in the throes of their umpteenth battle for the NBA championship while the off season has begun with the citizens of Cleveland and Akron wondering if their home grown royalty will remain their native son. I think they know deep down that Joakim Noah was right and have nightmares of Lebron wearing Yankees hats or dapping up Jay-Z.

Regardless, Duke of Akron isn’t a title those of us outside of Northeast Ohio care about.