At 9 p.m., the long-running soap opera over LeBron James's free agency will end, cementing the fact that the King's ego — not the things he does on the court — has become his defining characteristic.
I don't slow down to gawk at highway wrecks, but I'll be watching ESPN tonight. Nike nailed it: We are all Witnesses to the King. But Nike couldn't have imagined that what we would be witnessing this summer was the transmogrification of LeBron James into Idi Amin, the Last King of Cleveland.
Alea iacta est. The die is cast. Whatever James decides to do, whatever city he winds up playing in — right now, that looks like either Miami or Cleveland — he'll be defined by a megalomania that will transcend and dwarf everything else he'll ever do. The way this has played out has proved what was apparent to any fan back when LeBron wore a Yankees cap to Jacobs Field for the opening game of a playoff series against New York in 2007: He's a fundamentally stupid kid.
An hour of prime time, complete with a title — "The Decision" — could be a great goof, a Chappellesque satire. Instead, it'll be a cloying, tone-deaf puppet show, a tribute to the lunacy that James's self-mythologizing has become. I saw him tank on the court against the Celtics after years of talking about his leadership and passion for winning, and I've seen him try to rebuild his putative brand after that debacle by putting his team, town, and fans through needless hell.
You want to go? Go. You want to stay? Fine. Either way, the decision itself says less about LeBron than his conduct — on and off the court — the past two months. He's not a winner or a leader. He's just a baller from Akron whose ego has run far ahead of his talent and his smarts.
Scott Raab, author of Real Hollywood Stories, is a Cleveland State University graduate and has been an Esquire Writer at Large since 1997
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