| || |
I GOT 99 PROBLEMS, BUT A 'SHIP AIN'T ONE: further thoughts on the behavior of LeBron James
June 14, 2011 - Scott Muska
Monday morning began, for me, like most Monday mornings do. My alarm went off at 8 a.m., I turned my coffee machine on and semi-unconsciously worked my way through a shower, shave and tooth-brushing. Then I dressed, made breakfast and sat down on my couch to eat it while I watched a few moments of SportsCenter before I left for work.
One of the segments I saw was a clip of LeBron James's post game interview. A reporter had asked him if he cared that so many people had hoped for him not to win a championship this year.
"Absolutely not," he said. "All the people that was rootin' on me to fail, um, at the end of the day they gotta wake up tomorrow and have the same life that they had before they woke up today. You know, they got the same personal problems that they had today."
This was true. I was out of milk for my Cinnamon Toast Crunch, a problem I'd had the previous day but had neglected to solve.
He went on to say that people would eventually have to go back to the real world.
Also true. The only thing atypical about my morning was that I opened my dictionary to look up what Schadenfreude means. I had no idea, and had heard it mentioned like five times in a span of two hours in reference to James. (It means, aptly "delight in another's misfortune." I'm glad I looked it up, because now I had a fancy word to describe the exact way I'd been feeling throughout the series toward James.)
This lack of a real change in my daily life was what I'd expected, though. I didn't think that just because some professional basketball player lost in the championship that I'd wake up the next day and live a completely carefree existence with no personal problems to think of. I would have "rooted on" the Heat to succeed if I thought I was going to wake up the next day and be completely problem-free for the rest of my life. Every one would have.
But everyone also knows that isn't the case. Because for everyone who is not connected professionally to sports, their lives tend to continue more or less in the same vein regardless of the outcome. If your favorite team wins the title, you don't just run into your office the next day and quit your job, unless you're an idiot. You might ask to have an afternoon off, so you can attend the victory parade, but that's about as far as it goes.
Sports are important, because most people use them as an escape from the real world. We get happy when a team we want to win does so, and vice versa. Watching freakish athletes do amazing things and putting a little bit of your personal emotion into the outcome is a way of breaking up the monotony and mundanity of the other aspects of life that might not hold as much excitement. We look forward to sporting events, and we cherish them while they're taking place (sometimes), but we always know we're not going to be absorbed into that one event forever. We know that the next day we're going to have to go back to landscaping, or sitting at a desk, or writing a blog that two or three people are going to read.
By making that statement, James did something I really wasn't expecting: He made himself even more difficult to like. Who in America wants some guy who gets paid millions of dollars to remind you that his losing A GAME is not going to solve your life's problems? That's like the last thing I want to hear on a Sunday night or a Monday morning.
For basketball fans, that game did what it was supposed to do. It entertained us for a few hours, and made us feel happy or sad when it ended. For some, the emotions were more intense and long-lasting than they were for others. That's the way it goes. But it didn't really do much to drastically alter most peoples' lives. (A notable exception is gamblers who either won big or lost big and have since had their kneecaps broken.) We're aware of that, and don't need to be reminded by a dude who can't just admit it bothers him that everyone hates him instead of making some remark that's so rational that it's pretty much irrational to even verbalize.
At the end of the day, I still have to work, and so do you, probably. We still have problems. So does James; more than he did before his lackluster finals performance. He's the one whose life would've been irrevocably changed if he'd won the championship, not mine.
His comment made me think existentially about what it would be like to be him. A year ago, I probably would've traded my life to be LeBron James. He didn't really have many problems, except that he had yet to win an NBA championship. I could deal with that problem.
Now, though, I'm not so sure. Is being absurdly rich and having the opportunity to play a game for a living worth it if a great deal of the population hates you because of a series of immature acts?
I never thought I'd be happy to say I've got 99 problems, but winning a 'ship ain't one. (HA! See what I did there?)