LeBron Needs to Be Quiet and Put a Mask On

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If you aren’t absorbed in a sea of purple and yellow that glistens beneath a Southern Californian sun, then it would be very likely that you may agree that LeBron should be the target of the proverbial phrase: “talk to the hand.”

There’s no reason to delve into his half-baked comments back in October regarding China and the NBA. There’s not even a reason to linger on the “TACO TUESDAY” craze that nobody seems to find amusing despite its prevalence in online vernacular. 

Today, it’s important to bring to attention that LeBron has only made me scratch my head more and more as his voice has risen to be the preeminent voice of the NBA. Of course, this relates to the aforementioned comments that I was so adamant on avoiding in the present moment, but moreover, it has to do with something more recent. 

A CNBC article reported that team executives and agents are calling for the NBA to pull the plug on the season. Most of the reasoning revolves around uncertainty, liabilities, and revenue questions. 

LeBron spoke up, dismissing the claims on Twitter:

“Saw some reports about execs and agents wanting to cancel season??? That’s absolutely not true. Nobody I know saying anything like that. As soon as it’s safe we would like to finish our season. I’m ready and our team is ready. Nobody should be canceling anything.”

Uncertainty was a reason cited for wanting to cancel the season. To say “as soon as it’s safe,” as LeBron does, highlights the fact that we really don’t know when it will be safe. For the past month, ideas have been floated around about salvaging the season, and yet none of the ideas seem to stick. May 1 was supposed to be the day that brought us clarification on the state of the 2019-20 NBA season. Check the calendar— know anything new?

I am afraid I must ask Mr. James for some clarification. He says that he’s “ready and [his] team is ready.” Ready for what exactly? 

Liabilities are also of concern, and naturally so for a league centered around billions upon billions of dollars. There are too many “what if’s,” too much room for disaster in contrast to the current state of practical contemplation.

The CNBC article, in effect, made a point that there are a lot of financial costs to reopen the season that would likely not include particular revenue sources that would otherwise have been available (e.g. local TV revenue). Thus, the costs are known, but revenue is unknown, and is in no way assured on the level it would have reached had there been no pandemic and the season had gone on as normal. 

“Nobody should be canceling anything,” LeBron wrote in conclusion. Well, yes, they should. Why? Because however unreasonable one finds the canceling of the NBA season to be will never match the level of unreasonableness of trying to force it back to life. 

The closest the NBA has gotten to restarting the season is the decision to allow teams to practice, which is supposed to go into effect May 8. However, as has been made crystal clear, many teams would be unable to open up practice facilities due to social distancing mandates. That is something especially true for teams in California, let alone Los Angeles where the virus continues to spread.

Also, to say “nobody” is saying the league would be better off canceling the season is just classic podsnappery. There was a report a few days ago that quoted Steve Kerr as saying the Warriors were essentially in “offseason mode” now (which, yes, is easy to say when you’re at the bottom of the standings). Plus, is King James comfortable calling all the sources of the CNBC article—wait for it—fake news?

The CNBC article quoted a sports marketing executive as saying that canceling the season would result in a $1 billion “hole.” So perhaps LeBron meant to say “nobody” wants to lose all that revenue money. And that makes sense—nobody wants to be out a billion dollars—so he should know to just say that next time. 

I’m no code-cracking genius endowed with the ability to read between the lines. But if you’re in the midst of a pandemic where people’s health is constantly at risk and you want to bring a multibillion-dollar league back just to finish a season—even if it means just going straight into playoff games, the games responsible for the heftiest TV revenue—then something tells me you have dollar signs in your eyes. In other words, if you have to literally bend over backwards, the money must be really good. 

If I could say one thing to LeBron it would be this: I get you’re the voice of the NBA, but that doesn’t mean you get to avoid holding yourself accountable. Think before you say something. …Please?

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Kings Talk: Episode 68

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