LeBron James = Machiavelli???
Last night, LeBron James made his very much publicized Miami Heat debut against the Detroit Pistons. As I was sitting in my apartment watching the preseason game, I could not help but to think about the monumental NBA offseason that just had transpired. LeBron James opted not to resign with his hometown team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, and “take his talents down to South Beach” along with Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade to form a superstar team. The Miami Heat are expected not only to contend for an NBA Championship this upcoming season, but for many seasons to come. I thought about everything that had taken place in the past couple of months, from LeBron’s playoff loss to the Boston Celtics to his 1 hour special on ESPN, and could not help notice parallels between himself and Machiavelli. Although I doubt LeBron made “The Decision” based off of Machiavellian concepts, I did notice a slight parallel. I further analyzed LeBron James’ whole career and realized his whole career was somewhat Machiavellian. Let me explain.
In the Prince, Machiavelli argues that a prince should not regard moral good; he should just do whatever necessary to attain his power. While ruling as a prince, he should rule with virtu. With that being said, I believe Machiavelli would tell LeBron to do whatever he could to win a championship. For example, Machiavelli might tell LeBron to bribe the referees, play dirty, flop, etc. LeBron hasn’t done this. However, LeBron has exerted his powers within the rules to do whatever he could to put himself in a position to win championships. Although, LeBron James isn’t a real prince ruling over a sovereign state, he is a NBA player has power that no other NBA player does (Ironically, his nickname is King James). LeBron James indirectly assembled the Cleveland Cavalier’s roster. Danny Ferry, and told him what he felt the franchise should do in order to win a championship (I will show you what I mean in a timeline below this paragraph). There is not one player that I can think of that has the power to do this in any sport. Players regularly give their opinion, but they do not demand like LeBron does. LeBron has done whatever he has wanted during his time with the Cavaliers. LeBron never won a title in Cleveland. He announces to the whole world he is leaving in a 1 hour special on ESPN, disrespecting the franchise and it’s fans. All this was done to gain attention, and most importantly power. I believe the televised broadcast of “The Decision” was to promote LeBron James more. More attention = More influence = Power = Better chance to WIN A RING!! All this ties back into the Machiavellian concept of doing whatever is possible to gain power.
-Cleveland Cavalier make the 2006-2007 NBA Finals. Cavaliers get swept. LeBron James cries for more help. Cavaliers management brings in Mo Williams during the following offseason.
-During the trade deadline of the 2007-2008 season, Cleveland Cavaliers management brings in more help for LeBron by adding Wally Szcerbiak, Delonte West, Joe Smith, and Ben Wallace.
-Cavaliers get beat in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals in 2007-2008 playoffs. During the upcoming season, LeBron famously hints about spurning the Cavaliers to join the Knicks, pressuring Cavaliers management to improve their roster.
-In the 2008-2009 NBA playoffs, LeBron loses to the Magic. LeBron James famously does not shake the opponents hands, a common etiquette. LeBron cries for management to bring in someone to guard Dwight Howard, who dominated the series.
– In the 2009-2010, LeBron James loses AGAIN in the 2nd round of the playoffs to Boston after having the best regular season record. LeBron James is accused of quitting in games 2, 4, and 6 of that series.
-2009-2010 Offseason: LeBron announces on a 1 hour special on ESPN that hes leaving Cleveland for Miami.
One key point Machiavelli brings up in the Prince is the concept of Love vs. Feared. Machiavelli claims that “one ought to be loved and feared; but, since it is difficult to accomplish both at the same time, I maintain it is much safer to be feared than loved, if you have to do without one of the two (Chapter 17, Pg 35).” LeBron James has always enjoyed an amount of success. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest players in the NBA. However, no one really feared LeBron James because come playoff time, everyone knew that LeBron James would disappear and not deliver when the time came. LeBron James has and will always put up great statistics and play lock-down defense. However, his team was never good enough to win a championship. No one was frightened at the prospect of playing the Cavaliers. However, LeBron was always a beloved athlete by many basketball fans. Despite that, LeBron gave up is popularity as one of the most loved athletes, to join Chris Bosh and D-Wade in Miami to form one of the greatest team to ever be assembled (my opinion) in order to win championships. Currently, LeBron is one of the most hated athletes (#6 according to Q scores). LeBron James knew the backlash that he would receive by dumping Cleveland for Miami. However, Miami will inevitably win multiple championships. He sacrificed popularity for to elevate himself onto the same tier as MJ, Bird, Magic etc. LeBron James will be one of the most feared basketball players because you are putting arguably the most dominant player in the NBA with 2 other top 10 players. With all those weapons at his disposal, he will have one of the greatest statistical seasons ever and will dominate his opponents ever more so than he did before. Furthermore, LeBron James is guaranteed to win multiple championships (my opinion although many profession analysts seem to agree). In the NBA, Championships + Stats + MVP’s = Greatness. LeBron will also be extremely motivated to have a career year because he has been bashed by the sports media relentlessly for his relocation to Miami. LeBron chose the prospect of chasing multiple championships and sacrificing his popularity, something Machiavelli believed one should do.
Feel free to critique my argument and bash me. I find it difficult to put Machiavelli’s thought into a sports context. However, I do see similarities to a certain extent between LBJ and Machiavelli. I tried to write this post so non-basketball fans could understand.