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King James and Tacit Consent

December 9, 2010

With the semester coming to a close, I find it fitting to return to the very first philosopher we studied in the course, Socrates.  After reading Apology and Crito, we encountered the idea of tacit consent.  Tacit consent is the idea that we owe obligation to someone or something, because we choose to stick around.  For example, Socrates chose to stay in Athens (tacit consent), therefore, he owed it to Athens not to flee to avoid death.  I find this idea to be very intriguing when applied to recent events.  Last Thursday, LeBron James, the son of Cleveland, returned home to play against the team he put on the map.  As many of you may know, LeBron James left Cleveland for Miami after seven seasons and zero championships.  His “Decision” drew much criticism, and the ire of all of northeast Ohio.  Granted, they way in which he left was dishonorable, LeBron James had the right to leave.  I am so tired of all these people saying LeBron James owed it to Cleveland to stay.  He owed Cleveland nothing!  If anything, Cleveland owed him.  LeBron took a falling city, and franchise, and turned them around.  In 2002, the year before LeBron joined the Cavaliers, Cleveland ranked 23rd out of 29 teams in home attendance with 14,539 people per game.  In 2010 Cleveland jumped to 2nd out of 30 teams in home attendance, with an average home attendance of 20,562.  In February 2003 (Pre-LeBron era) the Cavs were worth $222 million.  In December 2009, the Cavs were worth $467 million.  Almost all of this rise in wealth can be attributed to none other than LeBron James.  Without King James, Cleveland would have fallen flat on their face.  He saved a worthless franchise from ruin and made northeast Ohio relevant in basketball.

Now, if that argument doesn’t convince you that LeBron James owed nothing to Cleveland, my next argument should.  Although LeBron played for the Cavs, he always associated himself with his hometown of Akron.  his home was built in Akron, one of his tattoos reads 330, the area code of Akron, and when he left the Cavaliers, he took out a full page ad in the Akron Beacon Journal.  LeBron has always called Akron home, and that is something that will never change.  Now, some of you may be saying, well Akron wouldn’t exist without Cleveland, and you’re probably right, but that doesn’t matter.  Akron exists because we know it exists.  Whether that is because of Cleveland, in my opinion, is irrelevant.  Also, LeBron James was drafted by the Cavaliers.  He never got a choice in choosing what team he wanted to play for, until now.  So, when we return to the original question: Did “King James owe Cleveland?, the answer is no.  LeBron did more for the Cavaliers and the city of Cleveland than anyone I know of, other than Jim Brown.  He did so many great things for Cleveland that made them the franchise they are today.  So, to Cleveland fans, don’t complain about LeBron James leaving for Miami.  Whether he left quietly, or he left extravagantly as he did, you still would hate him, but don’t.  He gave you so many great years and so many great memories.  He did more for you than you probably ever could have imagined.  So just let him be happy with his decision, and move on with life without him.

10 Comments
  1. Andrew Babat permalink
    December 9, 2010 3:46 PM

    I think Lebron definitely owes something to Cleveland. Cleveland is his home and he should have honored that. He had an opportunity to continue playing in Cleveland and bring happiness to the people. He had a moral obligation to stay and he broke that obligation by going to Miami. Socrates would have been ashamed of Lebron’s decision.

  2. Eric Tellem permalink
    December 9, 2010 5:12 PM

    Lebron James decided to leave the city of Cleveland to go to Miami in order to “have the best chance of winning.” Yes, winning is important to a certain extent, but not as important as losing millions and millions of dollars for the city that you were once idolized by. Not to mention put the thousands of fans, who supported you through good and bad, unemployed. Lebron needs to understand that his decision is bigger then just himself. He needed to understand that his choice could change the city of Cleveland for years to come; however the sad truth is that he did and did not care.

  3. erikamir permalink
    December 9, 2010 5:18 PM

    I definitely agree with you that people should allow Lebron to be happy with his decision. I would say that if anything he owed the fans a more respectful departure than he gave them. As for the team, in this capitalistic society, it was a smart business move on his behalf. Besides rumors had it that his teamates became intimate with his mother; why would he stay. That’s ultimate betrayal. I definitely feel like he could have went about his decision but during the game he kept saying nice things about his Ohio fans. He owes no one anything; it’s just a decision he will have to live with. Go Heat!

  4. jmrusso permalink
    December 9, 2010 5:20 PM

    I completely agree with your feeling towards the people of Cleavland. Lebron did not owe anything to the city of Cleavland, and I agree with you saying that the city should be paying him back. If Lebron James was drafted by a different team back in 2003 would the same reaction from the fans occur? I believe so. A similar situation would occur if Derek Jeter left the New York Yankees. People would of course be outraged, but as a proud Yankees fan I would think about all of the great memories and championships that he was able to bring to the Big Apple. Granted Lebron James did not bring any championships to Cleavland, he most definitely brought in a new market for basketball to a city that was in shambles. Lebron James is a free man that has the right to play for whomever he wants. People should not attempt to take ownership of another man, plain and simple.

  5. chrisolah permalink
    December 9, 2010 7:49 PM

    I wholeheartedly agree with you. Lebron could not be bound by the idea of tacit consent if he didn’t have the choice to play for cleveland initially. He gave the city of Cleveland his best effort for 7 years. Its not his fault he didn’t bring a championship to Cleveland, that fault falls on the teams owners. They did not provide adequate teammates for the Cavs to take the next step, and if they did, he might have stayed there. The city needs to get over this whole situation (although I do feel bad for them, its been so long since they’ve won a championship), but they need to look at what really makes life worth living. And the answer isn’t sports.

  6. Tony Zhang permalink
    December 9, 2010 7:50 PM

    LeBron had every right to leave the city of Cleveland. The NBA is a business. 10-15 years down the line, if LeBron had stay with the Cavaliers, the Cavaliers would chew LeBron up and spit him out once management realized that he was old and his athleticism (I was tempted to also say skill but he really doesn’t have that much skill and relies mostly on his unparalled athleticism) had deteriorated. This applies to any athlete. You do whatever you think is the best for you and your family. Nothing else really matters. The reason why LeBron received so much beef is because of the way he left Cleveland. He had an one hour special on ESPN to announce which team he was going to. Joined 2 other top 10 players to try and win multiple championships. I mean come on. LeBron was asking people to hate him.

  7. Whitney Spain permalink
    December 9, 2010 10:54 PM

    As Tony Zhang puts it, the NBA is a BUSINESS. That couldn’t be more true. I do understand that people are upset for Lebron leaving the Cavs for the Heat, but what would you do if you were in that position. I don’t think that anyone who is a “hater” of what Lebron did would have handled the situation any differently. If someone was working as a CEO for one company, but then offered a better job else where, im sure they would take it. Lebron choose what was best for his career and what was best for him financially. Some may call that selfish, but its hard for me to think that most people wouldn’t have done the same thing.

    I also agree that if anyone owes anybody anything, it is the Cavs who owe Lebron. The statistics Bek Guluma gives, proves that the success of the Cavs franchise was mostly in part because of Lebron James.

    Just because Lebron chose to play for a different team, doesn’t make him a bad person. I would have done the same thing.

  8. Andrew Laing permalink
    December 9, 2010 11:01 PM

    Lebron took a large pay cut to leave a city that had large billboards with his face on them. He sold millions to avid fans in merchandise all plastered with the Cavaliers logos. Lebron gave nothing back to the city, and used it only as a little league team to showcase his talents. All the while, he would be spotted sporting New York gear everywhere he went on vacation and insisted that the organization wasent focused on winning. After he left the city is filled with all his jerseys, some even dragging behind cars. He should have followed Socrates lead and abided by tacit consent. Going to Miami was a stab in the back to an entire state, Socrates would be ashamed.

  9. Eric Ju permalink
    December 9, 2010 11:16 PM

    Lebron owes nothing to Cleveland or the team. If you think he gave nothing back to the city you’re mistaken. He put that city on the map, before he came Cleveland was a city with a weak sports tradition and then he came and turned the Cavs into a playoff team that even reached the NBA finals. He also donated to charities in his town and gave back to the community. Cleveland residents had something to be proud about for once and to think when he left they started to burn his jerseys. The only thing did Lebron did wrong, was making his decision on a one hour special on ESPN. Other than that he just wanted to win championships.

  10. December 9, 2010 11:55 PM

    The Cleveland Cavaliers ultimately ruled and governed by the NBA, (well the President, but you get my point) and through this one should not forget that they represent the NBA before they represent Cleveland. There are very few players, staff etc. that are native to Cleveland and have any tie/responsibility to this city other than the fact that it is where they are at the time in order to best make a living for themselves and any family they may have. Again they are all representing a part of the NBA, the fact that they reside in Cleveland, in my mind, is inconsequential.

    Lebron James, being an employee of the Cleveland Cavaliers is representing, wait for it, the NBA. In my mind he has done a great job as he has yet to have any public lapses in judgment that have befallen and ruined many of his peers: Brett Favre, Michael Vick, Kobe Bryant, Tiger Woods, and don’t get me started with baseball, while becoming a marketing goldmine and one of the most recognized athletic figures in the world. Responsibility-wise, Lebron has not only obeyed the rules of the NBA but been a model citizen.
    Another side of this is that in choosing to invest, both monetarily and emotionally, in the Cavaliers, that fans need to understand that they are complying with following the NBA and its rules and policies. One of these policies is that players are under contract, and when these contracts expire that these players are free to sign whichever contract pleases them and in most cases would be most beneficial to them. So again, in bringing up tacit consent in the context of Socrates, one can make the case that fans of the Cavaliers, no matter how accosted they felt/feel, were/are in the wrong as they follow the NBA and thus subscribe to the NBA’s rules, and in this case, the rules of free agency.

    I understand being upset with loosing such a great player from your team. However, a fan of the Cavaliers, and transitively the NBA, should know and understand the policies of free agency and not be so spiteful towards Lebron.

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