All day, I've been trying to think about how to tie LeBron James' "Decision" to Tim Tebow. A few thoughts:
*I can appreciate LeBron's interest in playing for a champion. I cannot appreciate the way he hung Cleveland out to dry. Even if he was leaving, there was no sense of decency. He should have asked "WWTD." They're just different people -- very different people.
*I was astonished at how badly LeBron did during that interview session, especially given that we all presumed he knew what the questions were going to be. But even if he didn't, you would have thought that he would have at least considered how to answer THE question: "What is your decision?"
Compare that to Tebow, who I would argue is the most sophisticated communicator in sports -- possibly sports history. LeBron is 25 and a pro for 7 years -- and not unpracticed in media relations. Tebow is 22 and when he was 19 was 10 times the communicator LeBron is.
In short, LeBron lacked Tebow's innate sense of empathy, which allows Tebow to connect to audiences. Tebow would have instinctively understood that even if he had bad news to share with his fans, he would appreciate the fans' perspective -- something LeBron ignored.
*I thought that no athlete had ever experienced "Championship or Failure" expectations as overwhelming as Tebow (and the Gators) did last year. But LeBron, as of today, is right up there: It's not even "anything less than a NBA title is a failure"; it's that anything less than multiple titles is a failure. The first will be the hardest -- and, even then, it won't be enough. That is brutal.
What you hope is that LeBron has the persepctive that Tebow displayed after the championship dream imploded: That relationships matter more than championships; to LeBron's credit, that seems to be what was driving his decision -- certainly not his relationship with Cavs fans or people in Cleveland, but his relationship with Dwyane Wade as uber-stars.
But let's not discount: Even now, Tebow laments that loss to Alabama and the lack of a national championship -- the dashed expectations -- even to an extent that it overshadowed the successes of the year. In short: Expectations -- and I mean "championship or failure" expectations -- are brutal. Hope LeBron is ready for that.
Oh, and just as a thought exercise: Cleveland could really use a sports hero right now. How much happier would they be if they had Tebow as the future star QB for the Browns? They could have had it; they went with Joe Haden. You certainly can't blame them for that pick.
But Cleveland desperately could use an uber-star to replace LeBron. And I can only think of one athlete with a big enough presence to fill the void left by LeBron.