The King Made ‘The Decision’

by July 09, 2010

by Jeremy Bauman / @JBauman13

Taking the advice of Chris Paul, LeBron James finally created a twitter account called @KingJames this week. In this digital era that we live in, LBJ previously didn’t make a twitter because he didn’t want to give the public too much of a hint in to his world. In less than a week, and just five tweets later, LBJ already has 386,000 followers.

The way in which he went about his business over the past week has caused his fans, sportswriters and even his former owner against him—simply put, LeBron James didn’t just tease his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers, but also fan bases in New York and Chicago while people all over the country are disenchanted because they would rather see a superstar build a franchise from scratch rather than “take the easy way out.”

LeBron James has gone from one of the most loved and celebrated athletes in North America and has headed in to a new era of people second guessing his abilities to winLeBron James and be a true leader.

Never in the history of the NBA has the process of a free agent signing generated this much buzz, but that is exactly what the King’s camp wanted all along. If you watched the hour long special last night, you saw LeBron’s Vitamin Water commercials running left and right, you saw LeBron receive scholarship donations for five kids to his charity from the University of Phoenix, and you saw a decision that will shape the way for how we view LeBron James for years to come.

There is no question that, as much as everybody wanted to see LBJ’s decision, LeBron’s team created substantial marketing opportunities out of the situation. That’s just the nature of the game these days — where marketing plays that big of a role in the way things are done at all times. Why not make The Decision in to an hour long special, right?

But with all this talk about LBJ and his decision, it has gone incredibly under the radar that the super scorer Kevin Durant is on his own path to becoming the anti-King.

Durant announced via twitter this week that he would be back with the Oklahoma City Thunder for years to come: “Exstension [sic] for 5 more years wit the #thunder….God Is Great, me and my family came a long way…I love yall man forreal, this a blessing!”

Durant, who played for a Seattle Sonics team that went 20-62 his first season, is handling his business in a manner that has proved to become the polar opposite of the flashy way in which James has gone about his. Sure, Kevin Durant could have waited to become a free agent next year and left for a big market. But the thing with KD is that you know he doesn’t give a crap about whether he is in a big market, big city, or whether he gets any attention at all.

In fact, it couldn’t be more of the opposite. After receiving compliments about the way he handled his extension, here is what he had to say on twitter: “I really don’t deserve this praise for handling my deal the way I did…plenty of guys did it the way I did…”

And what did Durant do this morning and the rest of the week while LeBron’s whole media fiasco took place? He watched his “OKC bros” in their Orlando Summer League action (sometimes live, sometimes on TV) because he cares that much about the new guys who are coming in to his organization. All the guy wants to do is win and it shows.

While I don’t necessarily disagree with LeBron’s final decision or his logic behind it—he wants and needs rings (lots of them, and soon) more than anything else to cement his spot in history—after watching The Decision, listening to others opinions and thinking it through on my own, I keep coming back to the thought that if I had my choice, I would rather take a Kevin Durant on my team than a LeBron James. In Durant, you know you are going to get somebody who is interested in building a franchise from scratch and leaving his own unique mark on the game. There is something to be said for the hard work and perseverance that it takes to get to the top of the mountain versus just taking a helicopter there, as the public feels the King is doing. One of the reasons that Michael Jordan is such an icon is because he never would have joined forces with players of Wade and Bosh’s caliber to win a title—he wanted to prove that he could do it in his own unique way, and look where it got him…

As fans and analysts of the game, we can only wait to see what kind of legacy James will leave behind, but one thing is certain: James will be remembered for July 18 by a lot of people for a long time. His legacy will end up being completely different than anybody else to have played the game because he is the first one to blaze this kind of path. It will be interesting to see where he can go with this, both as a player and a business man.

For the moment, James may have approximately 175,000 more followers than Kevin Durant, but I expect to see a gradual increase in KDthunderup’s follower list as he gets older. Unlike James’ account that took off and hasn’t stopped rising, KD’s should have a more steady increase in followers over time—pretty reminiscent of the way he is seeing his Thunder achieve success together.

Both LeBron and Durant have a long way to go to cement their places in the history books. But even with most of the world hyping this super team that Riley has created in South Beach, I’ll stick right by my man KD and believe in him in the same manner that he believes in his Thunder organization—with fierce loyalty—regardless of what else is going on in the League.