Archive for Lebron James

The Gospel According to King James!

Posted in On Sports! with tags , , on June 22, 2012 by playthell
 The King Holding Court

A Victory that Resounds Beyond the Court

             Averaging 30 points and 10 rebounds throughout a grueling NBA final, Lebron James led the Miami Heat to a World Championship and was selected by unanimous vote as  The Most Valuable player in the championship series.  The trophy will make a handsome  companion to his league MVP award for the 2012 season.  Not only was King James honored by league officials, he was showerd with love from his teamates and warmly embraced by opposing players after their defeat.

James put on a rare performance of such magnitude that Magic Johnson, a first ballot Hall of Famer who is one of the greatest artist to play the game, was moved to enthusiastically declare Lebron James “One of the greatest athletes to ever put on basketball sneakers!” He placed him in the Top Ten of all-time greats right now, and suggested that Lebron could well be anywhere in the top three by the time he is through.

In this playoff series Lebron demonstrated why he deserves the title “King James,” as he put on a clinic on all aspects of the game:  passing, rebounding, smothering defense, and unstoppable offense.  Unlike the late King James of England, who had the temerity to rewrite the Judeo-Christian Bible – although many suspect he employed William Shakespeare to do the actual writing – there is no doubt that the marvels attributed to Lebron were of his authorship.  The whole world watched him do it!  And unlike the original King James, Lebron was not born to his title: he had to earn it!

Today Basketball is a game where grace and prowess are wedded in a public spectacle that has transcended the sport Dr. James Naismith invented at Springfield College in 1891, an era distinguished by “white supremacy” and American imperial expansion.  Naismith, a trained minister and Physical Education teacher, created the game of basketball because he was ordered by his superior to create an indoor sport that could channel the energies of virile young men into constructive activity during the long New England winters.

Dr. Naismith intended his game to promote spiritual objectives, not serve as an arena  for cutthroat competition. But that was before basketball became a market driven professional sport in a multi-billion industry.  His Christian purpose of cultivating piety and moral toughness is clearly evident in the fact that he invented basketball under the auspices of the Young Men’s Christian Association.

This reflected the the spirt of a time when the doctrine of “muscular Christianity” stressed physical fitness as a prerequisite for white Christian soldiers – men who were  tasked with spreading the gospel everywhere, civilizing the colored savages and ruling the world. In this evangelical view the role of sport was to promote western interests through “godliness and good Games.”

           Dr. James Naismith: Inventer of Bscketball           

He conceived a Very Different Game

That vision of sports has evaporated as the world changed.   The collapse of the racial bar that made professional sports in America a white man’s affair permitted the emergence of Afro-American athletes, who reinvented the game of basketball.  What was once a stiff game of rigid prescribed plays with gangly stiffs doing a Two Step shuffle, has become a free flowing improvisational ballet performed by agile giants.

Afro-American ballers have bewitched the world with their magic show, but not everyone is applauding….and there is no paucity of Playa Hatas.  No playa has been the object of more virulent enmity, expressed in pious putrid invective, than King James.  So what’s it all about…really?

The source of this animus is located in Lebron’s decision to announce that he was leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers and taking his talents to the Miami Heat on a cable television special – his critics conveniently ignore the fact that the TV show raised two million dollars to fund programs for poor kids like he once was.

Yet in an era where athletes are being arrested and tried for real crimes Lebron is like Caesar’s wife: pure as the driven snow.  Whether it’s using illegal performance enhancing drugs to gain an unfair advantage against his opponents, carrying illegally concealed weapons off the court, disturbing the peace by cutting the fool in the public square, or even showing up late for practice; Lebron is above reproach!  So what’s the beef?

Among New Yorker’s, and hard core basketball fans in all the cities that vied for Lebron’s talents with dreams of a World Championships dancing in their heads like the Sugar Plums in Tchaikovsky’s  famous Nutcracker Suite, this hatred is the universal response of rejected lovers.  But for the majority of those whose team was never in the running, the hatred is an irrational response to Lebron’s self-confidence and business decisions.

Hence  Lebron was cast as an arrogant, self-centered ingrate; some thought him an uppity nigger who was disloyal to the franchise that provided him the opportunity to play pro-ball.  This is ridiculous: Loyalty to a corporate sports franchise?  As former pro-footballer and sports commentator Marcellus Wiley pointed out on ESPN Sportscenter: Professional sports is a business and players often don’t find out that they have been traded to another franchise until they hear about it on Sportscenter.

I explored these issues in two essays at some lenght  and posted at them  at while it was happening.  But what objective observer could fault Lebron for quitting the “Mistake by the Lake” for that perpetual bacchanal in the Magic City?  It doesn’t make sense.

That’s why I believe  much of this hatred is racial resentment expressed by closet racist who detest King James’ wealth, fame, independence and color.  It is rooted in irrational societal and cultural issues that transcend the game.  Hence Lebron’s victory resounds beyond the court!  And the haters will have to live with the fact the King has claimed his crown!  Every head must bow!  Every tongue must confess it!!

They Rode their Horse to the Top

A Merry Band of Brothers


Playthell George Benjamin

Harlem, New York

June 22, 2012

On The Lebron James Affair

Posted in On Sports!, Playthell on politics with tags , , , , on July 13, 2010 by playthell


 The King Doing his thing!


 Some Reflections on Race, Class and Sports

 The public outrage over Basketball’s most valuable player Lebron James’s decision to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers and join the Miami Heat – abandoning the “Mistake by the Lake” for the “Magic City” – transcends the game and exposes the thorny issues of race and class that lie just beneath the surface of the good times, smiley faces and racial bon homie that is the carefully cultivated image of professional sports. The bold headline on the cover of Sunday’s New York Post calling Lebron a “Jackass” verifies the intense interests in this issue beyond the sports pages.  The question is why?

Ever since the great Trinidadian historian and political theorist C.L.R. James published his path breaking study of Cricket, “Beyond a Boundary,” thoughtful people have been compelled to consider the role of sports in society as something more than simple entertainment.  Indeed, James’ axiom: “He knows not cricket who only cricket knows” is equally true of basketball.

The essence of C L R’s observation is that the game of cricket embodied the values and mores of Victorian England. Indeed the distinguished historian of British diplomacy Keith A.P. Sandiford – himself a cricketer from Barbados who has subsequently written several books on the subject – has pointed out that James’ study not only affected the way he interprets British history, but “it changed the way historians of the Victorian period in general interpret the era.”  For historians attempting to assess the state of race relations in America today, the Lebron James affair may prove almost as important an indicator as the election of President Obama.

The central question raised by Barack Obama’s historic election regarding race relations is whether it signaled the onset of a “post racial” American society.  Some observers of the American scene were skeptical – this writer included – of claims that most white Americans had suddenly become color blind after centuries of inflicting genocide, slavery and apartheid on their non-white countrymen. Judging from the racist rhetoric and iconography of the so-called “Tea Party Patriots” and the dramatic increase of armed white militias, our skepticism has proved justified.

Hence it is in the context of a rising tide of racism on the radical right, the swelling contempt for the rights of workers in their struggle to curb corporate power through unionization, and the NAACP’s complaints about discrimination against African American workers cleaning up the gulf oil spill, that the Lebron James Affair must be viewed.  The scurrilous attack on Lebron – who has been affectionately dubbed “Kings James” by his fans – leveled by Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, prompted Reverend Jesse Jackson to observe that Gilbert talked like Lebron is “a runaway slave.” My thoughts exactly!   Virtually every black man I know feels this way, except for certain poot butt black pundits like Johnathon Capehart of the Washington Post, who actually defended Gilbert!

Yet Johnathan Seagull  is certainly in step with the weight of white public opinion, which  appears to be overwhelmingly on the side of the owner. But this is a very American thing: The white public has always been on the side of white bosses when challenged by black workers.  For three quarters of American history black men were the property of white men and had “no rights that white men were bound to respect” in the words of the Supreme Court in the Dread Scott Decision of 1857.  And for a hundred years after the abolition of slavery that rule continued to hold true in large sections of this country; it was not changed until the Civil rights bills of the 1960’s.  Hence from the landing of the Mayflower in 1620 until the passage of the voting Rights act in 1965, black men and women have enjoyed the equal protection of the laws for only forty five years in the history of the American republic!  Old habits die hard.

In his self-righteous rage, induced by a sense of entitlement, the owner even had the unmitigated gall to call Lebron a megalomaniac for announcing his decision on a television special.  Ironically, Dan Gilbert evidently does not grasp the fact that a middle aged billionaire business owner attacking a 25 year old worker for seeking a better job is the height of Megalomania!  Sports teams trade players all the time and they learn about it in the press!   The only difference in this case is that the black players are calling the shots by virtue of their marlet value and the powers bequesthed to them by free agency.  This is why the owners fought against it so hard!

Furthermore, Gilbert showed the world his true character by contemptuously ignoring the fact that the ESPN special attracted ten million viewers – one of the highest ratings of all times for a cable show,  and raised 3 million dollars for the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, a lifeline for many kids who don’t have billionaire dads.  The two times Academy Award winning actor  Denzell Washington said theses clubs  virtually saved his life!   That most Americans can’t see who the villain is here, especially when it is so obvious, suggests that they remain blinded by their biases on race and class….in spite of the election of Barack Obama.


 The Cover Photo That Shocked The Racists




Playthell Benjamin

Harlem, New York

July 13, 2010