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Is LeBron A Boss Or A Working Stiff?

David Roth makes a super interesting case for boss-ness over at The Classical:

The problem with all this, with the Heat and in general, is that the fundamental vanity of it functions as a hulking, ridiculous Swarovski-showroom glass jaw. Stars are stars, and easy to photograph and put on the cover of a magazine, but systems win and endure. The Heat have an astonishing amount of talent on the floor, even with Chris Bosh on the bench, but the Thunder have a unique (if not yet fully earned) level of self-belief that the Heat don’t, and the Spurs appear to be playing with either six or seven players on offense when they’re working right. This isn’t about coaching or personnel—or only about one or the other, or either or both—so much as it is an affirmation that the game works best when played modestly and positively within a moderated, mediated framework. This is not to say that a paradigm can’t get smashed that way: the ultra-polite Spurs do this with every clockwork win, done with the same personnel they used to dominate in the opposite way a decade ago, but at a 180-degree turn. But the Heat, a team of young CEO’s mouthing band-of-brothers homilies they’ve never believed—or never believed as much as they believed that being more talented would somehow lead to being both the best and best-loved—can’t do that, or be that. They are still struggling with and within the star system; the stars play much of the time at a great distance from each other, and all of the time at an even greater remove from their teammates.

But I actually, well, yeah, I sort of see it as the exact opposite - based only on Roth’s writing. The Spurs and Thunder have created dynasties via luck and/or structurally superior thinking. That’s boss thinking. That’s CEO shit.

The Heat, for all their money-earning and bluster, are losers.

LeBron and Co. have managed to snatch a decent payday — like winning the lottery — but they’ve squandered any and all moral sentiment like a previously dirt poor lotto winner’s lotto winnings. And when their physical attributes wane, they’ll have even less to trade on.

The Heat remind me not at all of CEOs. They’re like the over/under-achieving union worker’s getting paid a lot of money to suck at a high level, until their jobs get taken by the younger and those willing to work for less money or trouble.

Roth concludes by saying, “But nothing so transparently false and small can live all that long, either”, but if he’s trying to make the case that the Heat represent some sort of ossified, triumphant i-banker class, well, I sure as hell hope he’s right, but I for one do not see the downfall of capitalism just around the corner. Quite the opposite.

I sort of think Roth thinks this as well since he also says,

There’s something almost inspiring, then, in the way that the Heat have failed to achieve as much, and have instead devolved into whinging ref-working and carping pettiness and grandiose sophistry and self-obsessed neurosis and the other piteous afflictions of the Job Creator class.

and I, again, don’t really see the Job Creator class getting dunked on in the Finals year after year. Again, quite the opposite. Thus: “something almost inspiring”.

So what can we make of the Heat? I have no idea. I sort of hope they win because I do identify them with somehow-and-for-whatever-reason over-achieving working class stiffs — not CEOs. Honestly, no basketball player (as we’ve seen over the last year) thinks like a boss. They may be gigantic dwarfs, but they’re still dwarfed by the guys writing the checks.

I guess it would be different if, say, the son of Bill Gates happened to have LeBron’s natural physical gifts. If Bill Gates, Jr. were LeBron, I would be rooting against him every single step of the way. But LeBron, like so many other ‘raw talents’, has if anything an expiration date stamped on his forehead. He has, what, five to ten years left? And then a lifetime of nitpicking, legacy shrink, and eventual irrelevance? Like every other working stiff out there.

I don’t know. I just have a hard time getting up for being down on anyone who works at their job the way any professional athlete does. Especially ones who don’t come from any sort of privilege or comfortability, a situation even a now-economically-dwarfed wanna-be writer can barely fathom or understand.

Notes

  1. theblueprint said: i’m from cleveland, and a cleveland sports diehard. i deleted any number of replies… i’m going to leave it at “i find your observations to be thought-worthy”
  2. bmichael posted this

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