This past year, a few idiot athletes have graced front pages and captured so much ridiculous attention. All of these athletes had choices. And in the words of a Templar Knight from Indiana Jones: They Chose Poorly.

Michael Phelps got caught smoking pot. Delonte West was arrested for speeding on his Spyder while carrying three loaded weapons. Ben Roethlisberger is facing multiple rape charges. Alex Rodriquez was found to have been taking steroids. Michael Vick was allowed back into the NFL. Tiger Woods was exposed and LeBron James left the people of Cleveland angry, depressed and disappointed.

Most of these athletes have done some reputation management since their debacles, while others continue to surprise the media and fans. LeBron James for example, continues to define his version of “loyalty” to the baffled fans of Cleveland.

This guy needs a new PR team. Or a new life coach. Or both.

I’m not going to get into the actual “Decision,” because if you’re not from the area, the drama is just something you get to hear about on ESPN. It’s hard to argue that James’ decision-delivery was unprofessional. From a public relations standpoint, it doesn’t get much worse. For years James prided himself on being a hometown hero, a regular guy. He maintained a flawless image for so long until…

LeBron James shows off his support for the Cleveland Indians by wearing a Yankees cap to the 2007 playoff game against New York (Cleveland won the series).

LeBron shows off his support for Cleveland...

The infamous Indians/New York Yankees playoff game where he wore a Yankees hat. He also chummed it up with Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones on the sidelines of a Browns/Cowboys game, while also wearing another NY Yankees cap.

This past weekend for the OSU/Miami game, James was spotted in the Akron Valley and it was rumored that he was ‘booed’ all the way back to his castle-of-a-home. He was supposed to have gone to the OSU game to support Terrelle Pryor, whom he mentors, but decided against it. Gee, big surprise, right?

“Some Buckeye,” as WaitingForNextYear blog writer Scott said. You got that right. Some Buckeye. I almost wish he’d stop pretending to care. Thank goodness for James’ Bike-a-Thon event. It seems to be the only worthwhile thing tying him to the Northeast Ohio region.

So what should/would a real Buckeye do?

A real Buckeye would continue to “support” the people he once supported.  A good person, friend and mentor should brave any crowd to show loyalty. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend Pryor take James’s advice on handling life in the spotlight, but the gesture is what really matters.

As a PR student and future practitioner I’d like to say to LeBron: you really need to stop getting so defensive when people from Cleveland rain on your parade. You embarrassed the city and left your fans in the worst way possible. You should have told the Cavaliers about your “Decision” prior to going on air, after deciding if that whole display of disloyalty on ESPN was necessary. Whoever told you that your method of delivering such devastating news was acceptable, needs some coaching themselves. Your once flawless reputation as a kind-hearted kid from Akron, Ohio will be tarnished forever, regardless of how many championship rings you acquire. Whoever coached you on what to say in “The Decision” was so far off track…

  • “I’ve done so many great things for the team.” (Oh, excuse me!)
  • “For me it’s not about sharing. You know, it’s about everybody having their own spotlight and then just doing what’s best for the team.” (Translation: you come first… then the team. Watch out Miami Heat!)

The debate was never over whether or not James’ decision was reasonable, it was the act in which he delivered the news. Following the event, as discussed, he bailed on Pryor, and after the Bike-a-Thon, he would not accept one single question from the media. Avoidance won’t get you anywhere in this business or this city.

Mavericks owner, Mark Cuban agreed too, today on a radio interview in Dallas, Texas.

“LeBron has every right to go wherever and do whatever, whatever team he wants to,” Cuban said. “Going to the Heat was his choice, those guys working together. I don’t even have a problem with the three of them working together, as long as they follow all of the NBA rules, which I think they did.

“Where I think LeBron made a mistake, was in how he did it. I don’t even have a problem that he had the TV show. But it turned out to be the largest public humiliation in the history of sports. He humiliated the organization; he humiliated the state of Ohio, the city of Cleveland.’

As a fan I’d like to say: have fun playing 12 minutes a game and not achieving triple-doubles or MVP status ever again. You’re going to be sharing the stage, Mr. James, with two other excellent athletes. A “King” doesn’t share his thrown. I hope you enjoyed that Jesus-like monument-of-a-poster in downtown Cleveland. Never again will a city throw itself at you like Cleveland did.

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