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LeBron James and a story of humanity you should probably read

Mar 25, 2012, 11:30 AM EDT

2012 NBA All-Star Game Getty Images

There are going to be comments below and tweets about this story that are going to make you question whether we shouldn’t just abandon society and live as separate lives as we can, because we’re truly vile. As an incredibly funny man once said, “We’re a virus with shoes.” But the story needs to be shared and discussed.

The Daily Oklahoman has a story today about LeBron James. It has nothing to do with basketball. It doesn’t talk about “The Decision.” It’s not about his MVP candidacy or his global brand, Maverick Carter, his hairline or his athleticism. It’s just a story about what happened during a stopover for the Heat’s lane at Will Rogers airport in Oklahoma City. During the Heat’s stop, a group of military helicopters were also stopped at the airport for a refuel. The servicemen approached the Heat’s security personnel to ask for a photo, and were rebuffed. (Let’s pause here for a moment. Security guys, I don’t give a good damn if you’re guarding Michael Jordan, Donald Trump, or noted R&B artist Keith Sweat. If a group of military helicopter pilots come up asking for autographs and photos, you at least go ask the client. Thanks for playing “How to not be a Jackass 101.”)

LeBron noticed, and the Oklahoman has the details:

Some of them wanted pictures with the players, but when the crew members approached the teams security detail, they were told no.Maybe LeBron could overhear the conversation, or perhaps he could just tell by their body language what was going on. Either way, he piped up.

“Hey, hey,” he said, “any of these military guys can take a picture with us.”

He turned to his teammates

.“You guys get up,” he told them.He turned to the servicemen.

“Get your camera up,” he said.

He started to wave the servicemen over but noticed that some of the players werent yet on their feet.

“Hey, everybody get up,” he said. “Get in a circle here. Anybody that wants their picture taken with us, well do it.”

via LeBron James the nice guy? Run-in with servicemen makes Miami Heat star harder to dislike |

OK, that’s just cool.

Look, I know absolutely nothing about LeBron James. I have stood in a pack with two dozen reporters or in a press conference for James about 15 times in my life. So I have no insight into who he is, I wind up guessing and interpreting based on public events and body language like the rest of you. I can tell you that he comes off as arrogant in these instances before and after games, but then, given that most players hate the press and think we’re, specifically, the virus with shoes, that doesn’t tell you a whole lot. This story doesn’t remove “The Decision,” or what he did to Cleveland. It doesn’t take back the “People will wake up tomorrow” comment after last year’s Finals. It doesn’t mean that he went above and beyond. You should let servicement get a photo with you if they want. That’s a pretty low bar.

But James could have opted out. This is a non-story if he says nothing. Just another group of athletes passing through. There’s no huge obligation on James’ part. He has a PR person who manages his time for the team, a publicist who does so privately. And yet he stood up and not only took photos with the guys, he got his teammates off their asses to do the same. That’s a good thing to do for someone, an important thing to do for people who actually do something important in our society instead of play basketball or blog about people playing basketball.

It’s just one story. But maybe if nothing else it shows you that these people we try and transform into two-dimensional figures are not such cardboard caricatures. James can be the egomaniac you despise and still be someone who did something good for a group of troops on a layover. He can be the hero he is to a lot of kids and still be a complex figure who has stumbled with public perception. None of us are simple, all of us are complex. And if you needed a reason to give James the same consideration you give people in your day-to-day life, maybe this story gives you that.

So, yeah, LeBron, thanks for doing that, from all of us.

(Little tip, though, man, don’t read the comments.)

(HT: HoopsHype)

  1. ihatecomingupwiththesenames - Mar 25, 2012 at 5:51 PM

    *Scratch the surface.

  2. eugenesaxe - Mar 25, 2012 at 6:15 PM

    A nice gesture that smells too much like a photo op/PR ploy and not totally from the heart. If I’m wrong, good for him.

  3. lakerluver - Mar 25, 2012 at 7:10 PM

    Who cares? LAKERS vs Bulls in the NBA Finals. LAKERS in 6.

  4. davidcl77 - Mar 25, 2012 at 7:14 PM

    Big deal. What decent human being wouldn’t do that? He’s a punk.

  5. tachyeon - Mar 25, 2012 at 7:51 PM

    Odd how James fulfilled his contract and decided he wanted to play else where media makes up all kinds of stories to make him a bad guy. Nothing is said about Colts owner kicking out Payton, Seattle Super sonics owner running out on Seattle, No articles no nothing. Its ok for Saints coach to pretend knew nothing about bounty’s where are all the most hated articles about these guys. There is something wrong with how media reports issues on minority players versus white players and coaches wonder why that is.

  6. slowclyde86 - Mar 25, 2012 at 9:26 PM

    Lbj just hired a public relations “strategist” in feb of this year. Getting sites like this one to publish fluff pieces with the sole purpose of making lbj the brand look good is what pr fims do. Expect plenty more of these totally spontaneous feel good lbj stories to keep coming out.

    • david8726 - Mar 25, 2012 at 10:16 PM

      He’s been doing nice things like this for random people for years. But keep pretending that it’s all just an act.

      He’s a nice guy and always has been. Does he have a huge ego? Was The Decision stupid? Yes. But he’s still a decent human being at his core.

      • slowclyde86 - Mar 26, 2012 at 8:19 AM

        Maybe so, but you miss my point. Nothing special here. It is what decent people do. What’s more, it is what most athletes would do with no story. These types of stories will be written with great regularity because lbj is paying a rather expensive pr firm to place them. That is why he hired them a mere four weeks ago. Coincidence? Does not make him a bad guy, in fact it is a smart thing for him to do. Just wouldn’t have been at all necessary if he had not been a such a clown when he left Cleveland and threw a championship party in July.

  7. hatethegamenottheplayer - Mar 26, 2012 at 12:43 AM

    Metalass65 is just mad because he sucks ass at basketball and is probably a Kobe Bryant fan who forgets it takes Kobe 30 shots to get his 30 points

  8. africanballer - Mar 26, 2012 at 7:21 AM

    Yes I am a Heat Fan, but I know this: yes lebron doesn’t have kobe’s winning attitude, yes ‘decision’ probably the dumbest thing this young man could possibly think of, yes the multiple championship thing with d-wade and the whole miami entrance. But i say this all the time, he breathes the same air as everyone else. He is a human being.

  9. charlutes - Mar 26, 2012 at 7:39 AM

    Another long winded, preachy gem of an essay for M. M.

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