LeBron James IS more than an Athlete…and Nothing Beyond his Brand.

 

After ya let Jeru’s poignant words sink in, turn to this random Twitter user’s tweet that was cited today in several Apple News articles:

“No more King James – Chairman James from now on.” 

Sheeeeesh! What a rough week for LeBron James, and what an even worse week for his now-defunct “Global Icon” blueprints. In case you missed it, LeBron called Daryl Morey “misinformed” following Morey’s tweets in support of the criminally oppressed people of Hong Kong. Morey did this right before the NBA’s pre-season trip to China (which included LeBron’s Lakers), and it turned to be quite disastrous for the league’s relationship with the Chinese government. Morey’s tweets, albeit ill-timed, were poignant and directly aligned with the thinking of anyone who steadfastly advocates for social justice, equality, and for essential individual freedoms to be available to all of mankind . They were the tweets of a man with a moral code, and someone whom choses civil liberties in favor of big government and/or big corporation’s agendas.

For those who aren’t in the know about what’s happening in Hong Kong, I suggest you read this piece: https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/9414104/relationship-conflict-between-china-hong-kong/

What’s transpiring between China and Hong Kong is one of the few bi-partisan issues allowed by the insanely contentious nature of the modern social scene. In today’s radically divided and fanatically argumentative global political climate, there is almost always two unwavering sides to every major sociopolitical issue. This is what a social systems theorist would call “the divide of two warring factions.” The way to find balance in two warring factions? It’s quite simple, actually. You must try to find or establish a single deviant party – i.e. a person or group of people who’s public sentiment and/or political motivations are indefensible when dissected underneath the cognitive microscope yielded by either side of the equation. LeBron James, by his own hand, has become a single deviant party.

Upon receiving the appropriate backlash for his idiotically insensitive and morally bankrupt stance on the nature of Morey’s tweets, LeBron backtracked his original remarks and stated Morey “could’ve waited a week” to press the send button.

He did not specify whether Morey waiting to send the tweets would’ve been better for his team’s safety while playing in China, been better for the NBA’s revenue agreements with China, or been better purely in relation to his own commercial interests. The unwritten contextual importance of that tweet is that it aligns with wanting Morey to keep quiet in order to allow LeBron, his Lakers, and the NBA to collect funds now presently unavailable to them for the foreseeable future. It appears as if NBA’s business dynamic with China is seemingly forever altered, which is the negative commercial result generally associated with radical efforts for social change in an extremely capitalist society.

With all of these developments taking form, LeBron STILL hasn’t quieted himself when it comes to this issue. Today on ESPN’s “First Take,” a press conference aired where he once again poorly addressed his verbal miscues! LeBron ate more crow while astonishingly coming across as even more grossly intellectually / socially incompetent. He voiced his growing desire to avoid a “word or sentence feud with Morey,” and did nothing to silence a rather large mass of humanity that is calling him out for his heightened usage of tone deaf, uneducated, and irresponsible language.

Side Note: I believe the expression you were searching for LeBron is a “war of words.” Despite butchering the common tongue, this was the smartest thing you’ve done yet in your most recent, self-created PR nightmare. A “sentence feud” with the MIT-educated Morey is as one-sidedly geared for his strengths as a game of 1-on-1would be for yours.

When searching for a pop culture comparison, I went to back the well of “The Wire.” I’m pretty sure I’ve cited this scene before. I think I did so in terms of either LeBron or Kanye West (my LeBronye blogged has aged really well, BTW) being a corporately designed false idol, but that’s neither here nor there. The fact at hand is that I can find no better on-screen equivalent to capture the current embattled nature of Chairman James. His insatiable ego coupled with his obsessive desire to be proclaimed a “king” and a “global icon” caused him to drift way too far out of his lane one time too many, and most people aren’t watching idly this go around. In the quote below, the socially conscious, self-aware sect of the world is playing the role of Avon Barksdale as LeBron James seamlessly steps into the shoes of the morally reprehensible Stringer Bell:

2019-10-15 (1)

Side Note: It pains me to compare LeBron to one of my favorite evil characters of all-time. But think of it in these terms – I LOVE great villains. My love for great, self-aware villains is matched only by my HATE for hypocritical, self-righteous “good guys.” LeBron is what I loathe, and his recent missteps finally provide concrete proof his true colors. Also, I feel like I’ve already written this side note in another one of my many anti-LeBron blogs…

Avon’s words are just too damn perfect. They summarize exactly where LeBron rests in his poorly conceived quest towards being remembered as not only the “GOAT” hooper, but also as a brilliant artist, a socially conscious leader of men, and as a globally renowned commercial “icon.” LeBron, by his own hand, is going to be remembered as none of these things by the educated masses. Who are the educated masses, you ask? Those whom generate critical analysis rooted in a sound educational foundation and read critically constructed commentary from a variety of sociopolitical angles fit the bill. Apologies to those only read “practical shit,” but we don’t take to your kind here. It just so happens that PBM fits the lowest of these standards, and I also have appropriately sized platform at my disposal. Tough breaks, Bron.

No matter how hard Chairman James has tried to star as the heroic protagonist of an impossibly uphill personal success story, a journey unlike any before his time, he has succeeded only in creating a confused brand identity that is strikingly similar to a number of other great athletes. In LeBron’s misguided efforts to be remembered as an amalgamation of Ali’s impeccable moral standards and MJ’s iconic commercial value, he has merely become a legendary hypocrite. LeBron tried as hard as he possibly could to be an extension of the legacies of Jim Brown, Kareem Abdul Jabaar, and the aforementioned Muhammad Ali – I truly believe he did. Unfortunately, due to his lack of self-awareness and the absence of a legit, foundational education, he wasn’t afforded the wisdom to understand that in order to be mentioned in the same breath of social justice pioneers, you have to sacrifice an inordinate amount of personal commercial gains. Quite simply, in order to be “more than an athlete,” you cannot be driven by your “brand.”

As an athlete and as a brand, LeBron is bound to specific regulatory bodies. These regulatory bodies form “the system.” The system’s governing forces are the NBA’s operational modalities (including ethical principles, financial bylaws, and more) the personal viewpoints of the owners of the NBA’s franchises, the NBA league sponsors as well as the individual team sponsor’s stated revenue goals, and lastly the way in which the objectively biased media outlets covers LeBron’s contributions to the NBA (both on and off the court). The athlete LeBron obsessively compares himself to, Michael Jordan, did not transcend these impenetrable, commercially controlled systemic boundaries. He became a stakeholder within them.

Jordan’s form of the impossible (his escape of corporate puppet strings) was never and will never be truly grasped by LeBron. It’s something that is wholly unique to MJ as an athlete (thus making him an “icon). Jordan’s star power and on-court dominance was so incredible that he was able to ascertain enough wealth to become a member/facilitator of the regulatory system described above. That said, there is a largely ignored yet inherently vital component of Jordan’s unparalleled rise to iconic status. Jordan kept his mouth shut in relation to any subject matter outside of what recently transpired on his field of play. He used the system’s respect of that steadfast loyalty to maximize his personal financial gain, and thus allowed for the system to absorb him as one of its cogs. The same system that Brown, Ali, and Kareem consistently advocated against with righteous political actions and social justice advocacy, was and is wholly adhered to by Michael Jordan. This adherence bred MJ’s iconic place within in said systemic constructs, just as being advocates for infrastructural change bred iconic statue for Brown, Ali, and Kareem.

As a reference point, Shaq, Magic, Kobe, and other NBA greats have thrived in or “sold out to” the NBA’s regulatory system in ways similar to Jordan. They have not nor ever will join MJ as a governing member of system that created them. Each accomplished too little on the court, all haven’t matched MJ’s earning potential, and all have done too much in the way of documented public controversy. LeBron also isn’t going to match MJ’s basketball achievements (despite what ESPN or several NBA talking heads will have you believe). MJ dominated like only Russell before him, and had no peers come close to his performance as a winner or his loyalty as a leader. LeBron is ahead of his peers only in terms physical gifts and the cumulative statistical dominance available to him via those gifts. LeBron’s loyalty issues need not be mentioned here…

From a purely financial standpoint, LeBron most certainly can’t match MJ’s iconic earning potential – compare their shoes’ values on StockX or just try and think of the national ad campaigns both men have starred in. Jordan has/had Nike, Hanes, Coke, Gatorade, McDonald’s, Wheaties, Chevy, and more. LeBron? I can think of Sprite off the top of my head. Ultimately, a universal understanding that MJ dominates LeBron as an earner is punctuated by acknowledging Jordan’s 1.9 billion dollar net worth. LeBron’s personal fortune, while impressive, is less than a 1/4 of that and rests at 450 million (nestled in between Kobe at 500MM and Shaq at 400MM).

All that information brings us back to the quote from Avon Barksdale, because as of today, both literally and figuratively, LeBron James is both an athlete and a brand without a country. He isn’t smart enough or hard enough to do all of his talking on the court (despite his unmatched physical tools), and he most definitely is not smart enough or hard enough to embody an action-oriented existence built on sacrificing personal gain for socially significant, positively oriented systemic change. In the words of the kids, unsuccessfully trying to trademark Taco Tuesday “ain’t it, bruh.”

Wow. Having rested my case in terms of the basketball court’s verdict on “The Case of the GOAT” months ago, it feels awfully good to finally close his case in the court of public opinion as well. I’ll let you determine your own verdict – PBM’s prosecution rests.

 

Grading the New NFL Head Coaches.

The NFL has 8 new head coaches this year, that’s 25% of the NFL and an average of one new coach per division.

Screen Shot 2019-10-01 at 12.50.41 PM

Let’s check in on these guys after 4 weeks…

Vic “Generic Grey Sweatshirt” Fangio: Broncos

I was worried that the Bears lost a great defensive coordinator in Fangio. Four games into the season I’m not so worried. It turns out the Bears D is just as dominant because they have really good players. The Bears built that D with great drafts and trades, things Fangion had no part of.

What he does have a part of is an 0-4 start and Joe Flacco is his QB. This is not good for Vic. I can see the writing on the wall, the Broncos are going to suck. They will need to draft a QB and when they do they will get an offensively minded coach to groom him. Grey Sweatshirt Guy has this year and next year, then he’s fired.

Grade thus far: D+

He doesn’t have a ton to work with or this would be an F.

Zac “Frowny-Face” Taylor: Bengals

I’d be frowning too if my team was 0-4 and just got our ass kicked by another winless team playing a backup QB. Jesus, does anything make this guy happy? Give us a smile Zac! You’ve got the most average QB of all time in Andy Dalton, how does that make you feel?

Screen Shot 2019-10-01 at 12.55.05 PM
On second thought, the frown is better. 

I watched the Bengals look OK week one on the road in Seattle, each week they have looked worse, Andy Dalton is still the QB, the defense isn’t great, the offense isn’t great. They are 0-4 just like Old Grey sweatshirt.

Grade thus far: D-

This could be an F as well but I’m not failing him just yet because like Vic his roster stinks.

Adam “Coke-Face” Gase: Jets

He wasn’t such a coke-face in Chicago but you get the head job in Miami and things fucking change man. Then all of a sudden you’re in New York and of course, you can still get good cocaine but it costs a lot more now and you gotta deal with your Russian drug dealer all the time. And even though you’re the head coach of the Jets….Dmitri still calls you bro all the time and tries to sell you pills and guns when all you want is a bump before your big press conference.  On top of all that, the QB you drafted got Mono and you can’t win a game to save your life. I give Gase some credit for squeezing 7 wins out of Miami last year but this Jets team with Luke Falk at the helm isn’t squeezing even a glass of OJ. This team is 0-3 but somehow not in last place in the AFC East because the hapless Dolphins are 0-4.

Grade thus far: D

I want to see him coach up a healthy Darnold before I fully fail him. Nobody is gonna win with Luke Falk.

Brian “I’m not a white guy” Flores: The Hapless Miami Dolphins

So full disclosure I thought the name “Brian Flores” belonged to a white guy for the longest time. Even when I saw him on the sidelines I didn’t think the guy I was looking at was Brian Flores. I thought he was the defensive coordinator who wears a cool looking hat.

Screen Shot 2019-10-01 at 12.59.24 PM.png
That’s a dope Fins hat, I want the Bears version of it.

This thought was only reinforced by the fact he came from the Patriots and played linebacker at Boston College. In my mind’s eye the man named Brian Flores looked something like this:

Screen Shot 2019-10-01 at 1.59.17 PM
This is more the face of a winless former Patriot assistant. This is the real Brian Flores. Not the Terry Crewes looking brother with a solid hat game.

I don’t think ANY COACH save maybe Bill Belichick could even have this team at 1-3. They are full-on tanking this NFL season. They are sacrificing Josh Rosen to the football gods in hopes of catching a Tua-Fish. It’s hard to grade any coach with this roster.

Grade thus far: Incomplete, no course credit, reenroll next semester. For now, you’re on academic probation.

Ok, we are halfway through the new coaches and…we have yet to encounter a coach who has won a game. Yikes. I’m sure the next coach will at least have won one game, right?

WRONG!

Kliff “American Psycho” Kingsbury

Screen Shot 2019-10-01 at 12.53.22 PM
Kliff just looks like the Patrick Bateman of the NFL to me.

Seriously how much time do you think he put into his business card?

A tie is not a win Kliff unless were talking about the tie on that suit. The Arizona Cardinals at 0-3-1 managed to pull out a tie in week one vs the Lions, that’s more than I can say the losers already highlighted. Still 5 coaches in and we don’t have a win. This team is going to pick up some wins at some point. Kyler looks like he belongs in the NFL and Kliff has some pieces to work with. Still, this team has a trash O-line and a D that you can pass all over especially to the tight end.

Grade thus far: D

It’s amazing that we are 5 coaches in, nobody has a win, and honestly, I don’t think we’ve gotten to the worst coaches yet.

Matt “Even Steven” LaFleur: Packers

Screen Shot 2019-10-01 at 12.45.51 PM
I think Deon Lewis needs more touches.
Screen Shot 2019-10-01 at 12.46.07 PM
How can I give the ball to my best RB less?

As a Bears fan, I could not be happier with the Matt LaFleur hire. Last year LaFleur was coaching the Titans offense and for some inexplicable reason, LaFleur saw fit to give Deon Lewis as much if not more playing time than Derrick Henry. It did not matter that Henry was way better. LaFleur is going to use both backs equally no matter if one is far better than the other. He took this philosophy to Green Bay where he stifled Aaron Jones by giving an almost equal share to Jamaal Williams. Then once Williams got hurt he didn’t give the ball to Jones more, he just decided to stop running it. He had first and goal at the 1 vs Philly and threw it 4 consecutive times, got down there again and threw it two more times until it got intercepted. That’s just shit coaching. I don’t care if Aaron Rogers is your QB. Peyton Manning loved to hand it off to Edge James at the goal line. Just because you have a good QB doesn’t mean you give up running near the endzone.

Grade thus far: C-

This grade is only passing because he has Aaron Rogers and a 3-1 record. I’m happy this guy got hired, he stinks.

Bruce “Mobster Santa” Arians: Tampa Bay

Screen Shot 2019-10-01 at 12.57.59 PMScreen Shot 2019-10-01 at 12.57.17 PM

This guy is the best of the bunch. The only guy on this list that as a fan I would be happy with. The Shitty Bucs with Shitty Jameis Winston are 2-2 and just put 55 on a team that was in the Superbowl last year. He is getting what he can from Jameis and winning games he’s not supposed too. That is the mark of an up and coming team. Sure the QB puts a ceiling on this team but going forward the Bucs have a much brighter future with Arians in charge.

Grade thus far: B+

If he somehow gets this team into the playoffs in a stacked NFC this grade can move up to an A.

LAST BUT NOT LEAST

Freddy “MessHall” Kitchens: The Browns:

Screen Shot 2019-10-01 at 12.44.36 PM
Freddy in Arizona looking like some kind of porpoise. 

Screen Shot 2019-10-01 at 2.51.50 PM

Screen Shot 2019-10-01 at 12.45.05 PM
Freddy in Cleveland looking like a porpoise with a hat on that needs a shave.

This doofus is a real piece of work. I’ve watched quite a bit of the Cleveland Browns and this dude needs to get his shit together. It took three games for him to figure out Chubb should be getting the ball more. He still doesn’t know how to coach Baker, he sucks at scheming ways to get Odell Beckham Jr. the ball. What do you expect from a guy who was a Running Backs coach at this time last year? Freddy Kitchens? No. Freddy Mess Hall where the cook just scoops slop onto a cafeteria tray and you’re forced to eat it. The Browns need to move on from this mouthbreather and fast. They are an undisciplined team that gets way too many penalties, that’s on the coach. One play, in particular, comes to mind. The Browns have first and goal at the 1-yard line. He calls a run play with motion and the WR in motion doesn’t have time to get set. The TD is wiped off the board and now it’s first and goal at the 6. You no longer can just punch it in. At the one-yard line there is no reason to run motion when you have Chubb, snap it, hand it off and score. Don’t get a procedure penalty. That is just one example there are too many to count.

Grade thus far: D+

A quarter of the way into the NFL season and the new coaches are off to a rocky start. We can check back in later to see if they improve. At least we know there is plenty of room to improve…A-TRAIN OUT.