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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. 28loose - Mar 25, 2012 at 11:40 AM

    Yeah, we always knew that he was a nice person.

    The problem is that he has crowned himself “King” without ever doing anything to earn that nickname. Actually accomplish something other than winning an MVP or three and then you can ask to be celebrated.

    • cordae - Mar 25, 2012 at 11:59 AM

      Can someone please show me an article, quote, something, where this guy literally said “I am king”? Yes that was over the top but none of you would ever back down from that title if it were bestowed on you since you were in the eighth grade playing HS basketball….exactly. If you berade him for genuinely “choking” one time (which is in last years finals) i get that. But you’re mad that PEOPLE call this guy “king” (albeit undeserving) and that alone captures the reason why about 90% of people who hates him, does. They don’t even give legitimate reasons!

      People’s responses towards this guy are really starting to sound synonymous with each other, and not in a sense that its deserved because he KEEPS doing the same thing, but in sense that people keep scutinizing him becauase the next five guys are doing it. Monkey see monkey do, all for some “thumbs up” smh..

      • jobotjones - Mar 25, 2012 at 1:13 PM

        I am pretty sure Nike are the ones that “crowned him” as King James.
        When he first entered the league they purchased Converse so that they could use that nickname.

        I don’t think it was ever him calling himself King, although I’m sure he happily ran with it after they gave him the name (who wouldn’t). I have never been much of a fan of LeBron as a person, while I can’t deny his ability as he is fun to watch, I never had a reason to root for him as I am not a fan of either team he has played for.

        Stories like this, however, show good character and judgement. It seems easy for celebrities/athletes to grow tired of spending their personal downtime taking pictures or giving their autograph out for free. I would not mind hearing more stories like this as the “fans” in question help serve this country proudly.

      • capya - Mar 25, 2012 at 7:19 PM

        “Can someone please show me an article, quote, something, where this guy literally said “I am king”? ”

        Seriously? The man had “King James” tattooed on his arm in his first NBA season. He has “Chosen1” tattooed across his back as well.

      • findthetruth90 - Mar 26, 2012 at 7:02 AM

        Keep it 100…agreed

      • cordae - Mar 26, 2012 at 5:14 PM

        AFTER it was GIVEN to him…

        last time i checked thats not self-prclaimed…

      • cordae - Mar 26, 2012 at 5:27 PM

        You’d have to be deaf, blind, or living under a rock to see that this guy was the most coveted high school basketball player ever, the same people that burned his jersey when he left are the same ones who gave him that name.

  2. rhetoric1 - Mar 25, 2012 at 11:41 AM

    Cue the lbj haters who will dig deep to find negativity in this in 3.. 2.. 1..

    • philtration - Mar 25, 2012 at 4:07 PM

      There are not many things more annoying on the Internet these days then the guy that does the stupid little “Cue the blah blah blah” followed by the 3…2…1… countdown thing.

      • slowclyde86 - Mar 25, 2012 at 8:48 PM

        Equally grating is labeling criticism or critics “haters” “hate on” or “hating”.

  3. berbes - Mar 25, 2012 at 11:41 AM

    being a nice human that fans can relate to…it’s a one-day-at-a-time thing for some. now, let’s go for two. i see someone wrote this for kurt. did he the day off?

  4. dipdip41 - Mar 25, 2012 at 11:44 AM

    I’m sick of every1 ridin LBJ. When he passes to an open teammate because he’s triple covered you say he don’t wanna take the last shot. But when he scores 17 of his 31 in the fourth, you only see it in the recap. More often i hear stuff about Lebron that makes me like him more n more. Lebron never knew this story would make it to press. This is no stunt, it just says a lot bout who LBJ is…

    • losangelasbasketball - Mar 25, 2012 at 8:47 PM

      You want to know what else Lebron knew? Lebron traveled….

  5. metalhead65 - Mar 25, 2012 at 11:54 AM

    ok he did something nice so that means we are supposed to forget the way he projects himself the rest of the time? it is going to take more than 1 feel good story from the president of the lebron is god fan club to make me change my opinion of him.

    • ishudbgm - Mar 25, 2012 at 1:58 PM


      Guess your name is metalhead for a reason!!!

      • metalhead65 - Mar 25, 2012 at 4:09 PM

        oh did I hurt one of lebron’s fanboys feelings? at least you can read my name and know what it means. what’s yours stand for? some kind of lebron secret fan code?

  6. bhester1906 - Mar 25, 2012 at 12:00 PM

    This should not be suprising to anyone with a pulse and some sort of media access. Acts like these by Lebron James outweigh his miscues by far. Its a shame that petty people, metalhead65 , find a way to give this kind of story a negative turn. Just a low down dirty shame.

  7. logneezy - Mar 25, 2012 at 12:00 PM

    I dont know the guy obviously, have never really cared for the guy either.

    But stories like this, make it really hard for me to dislike the guy. I know its just a picture but, at least he realizes there are some things bigger then the “king”. atta way lbj..(first and last time i will ever praise him,.. unless somehow he ends in a laker uni).

  8. mnsadsportsfan - Mar 25, 2012 at 12:25 PM

    what a non story….zzzzzzz

  9. raidmagic - Mar 25, 2012 at 12:32 PM

    Thank you Lebron for giving our heroes the respect they deserve. Well played it was the right thing to do.

    • blueintown - Mar 25, 2012 at 12:38 PM

      Thank you for posting the only sane, rational, appropriate comment relative to this story.

  10. fulanekiffin - Mar 25, 2012 at 12:44 PM

    A very nice and respectable gesture. Especially getting his teammates off their asses to take part and show gratitude and some gratefulness to these brave soldiers who risk their lives for us every single day.

  11. diablito0402 - Mar 25, 2012 at 12:46 PM

    Well, talk to all the waiters and weitreses that served him like a king without getting tipped, im sure they think he is a nice guy…

    • blueintown - Mar 25, 2012 at 12:55 PM

      Unless those servers were waiting on him while entrenched in a firefight in Afghanistan, I’m not sure that’s such a great example.

    • berbes - Mar 25, 2012 at 6:10 PM

      how can people thumb down the fact that the miami ‘men’ are known as the type that don’t tip the waitresses and waiters that serve them their $750 Cristal?

      are you really going to give one of those, it has nothing to do with basketball”? isn’t it possible to be good at basketball AND not be a pr!ck?

  12. gabe0988 - Mar 25, 2012 at 12:47 PM

    OKC v. Heat what a doozy possible finals matchup

  13. asublimeday - Mar 25, 2012 at 1:02 PM

    Wow, a basic act of human decency literally 90% of the population would’ve done.

    Way to go, turd!

    • carolinakid - Mar 26, 2012 at 4:07 PM

      Are 90% of the population Professional sports ALL STARS ?

      What he did is very commendable especially since he noticed the servicemen approach and saw them get rejected by their security. He could have just kept his headphones on and did nothing. Traveling is one of the grueling aspects of a professional athletes life.

      Kudos to Lebron and to our brave servicemen and women.

      -Sincerely a proud Navy veteran !

  14. asublimeday - Mar 25, 2012 at 1:04 PM

    You know not all active duty servicemen and women have taken fire in afghanistan, right?

    • roverboy1949 - Mar 25, 2012 at 6:08 PM

      everyone who serves deserves the respect from all of us who they guard. if it’s in afghanistan or peoria, it makes no difference. I thank them every day. I don’t particularly care for LeBron James, but he did the right thing and he should get the credit, just as he gets the goat when he does something we don’t like.

  15. asublimeday - Mar 25, 2012 at 1:06 PM

    Unless those servers were waiting on him while entrenched in a firefight in Afghanistan, I’m not sure that’s such a great example.

    I don’t think he was comparing servers to active duty servicemen, just saying one act of being a common sense decent human being doesn’t make him a nice guy.

  16. Sinan - Mar 25, 2012 at 1:36 PM

    People need to get their facts right…NIKE crowned him KING right out of high school….He has never referred to himself as KING, it was a marketing campaign

    • metalhead65 - Mar 25, 2012 at 4:30 PM

      a marketing campaign he has never disapproved of or he would not still be refered to as that.I am tired of the excuses people make for this guy,if he did not like the hype he could have stopped it at any time but didn’t. instead of doing all the ads and press he could have been more low key but instead he embraced it and enjoyed it. nobody forced him to do anything he did not want to so ifhe does something stupid like the decsion he should live with the consequences. and like it or not if you want to be considered the best then you need to do what the other guys who were the best did and that is take control when it matters. Bird,Magic,Jordan. and Kobe all made plays and shots when they had to and it was expected of them no matter what the situation was. and yes by that I mean all start games to. they thrived on the pressure and your king does not. again what he did was a nice gesture but something you would hope all athletes would do and not something that will change peoples perception of him because of it.

      • metalhead65 - Mar 25, 2012 at 10:31 PM

        you mean having king james tattooed on his arm doesn’t mean he does not call himself king james? having the chosen one tattooed on his back does not mean he does not buy into the hype and the way he is portrayed? thanks capya for pointing those out since some people do not seem to be able to see past the hype.

  17. dirtybird2020 - Mar 25, 2012 at 3:27 PM

    Always a pos!

  18. tcclark - Mar 25, 2012 at 3:33 PM

    Do people not understand how sad this is? We actually have to write news stories every time this guy does something nice? There are plenty of professional athletes that do nice things (even nicer than this) on a regular basis, but don’t get the publicity because it’s not out of the ordinary. There are college athletes that do amazingly nice things, but don’t get the publicity. The fact that we have to make it a news story when Lebron James ISN’T an arrogant prick just makes this worse.

    I’m sure I’ll get plenty of thumbs downs from Heat fans wanting to crown him nicest guy of the year, but you have to admit, this is a bit ridiculous. This is literally an article questioning whether LBJ is a nice guy(the original article is titled “Lebron James the nice guy?”). In my experience, if you have to ask the answer is probably a no.

    This shouldn’t be a story. The fact that it is when a guy like Matt Szczur has received no publicity from NBC’s range of sports websites just bothers me. Oh you don’t know who Matt Szczur is? He is a former college football and baseball star from Villanova who donated his own bone marrow to a little girl with cancer he’s never met and saved her life. He did it selflessly and missed over a month of the baseball season recovering from the procedure. he’s now one of the top prospects with the Cubs organization and one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet.

    There are plenty of nice athletes in the world. Letting servicemen take a picture with you is not this grandiose gesture that we need to write a story about.

    • meyerwolf - Mar 26, 2012 at 7:07 AM

      I needed to log in just to say you nailed it perfectly. Excellent comment, you are completely right.

  19. gofish721 - Mar 25, 2012 at 3:34 PM

    I’m from Cleveland (who still has a good life even after the Decision). I’m glad he cared enough to step out and do something from these GIs when he could have acted with a deaf ear and no one would ever known any better. He’s always been a good guy when he was here. Yeah his drama to announce his choice was stupid, but I understand why he left and have no problem with it even though I wished he’d have stayed. I do still maintain when he wins it all, it is still D Wade’s team since he went down to him. The great ones always led their own teams. It’s like the championship comes through ME. Sorry LBJ, you’ll have a ring I’m certain, but you’ll be D Wade’s b!tch when you wear it. You can never be compared to Jordan, Johnson, Bird, and the likes.

  20. lakerade - Mar 25, 2012 at 3:42 PM

    ‘king’ james is catchy because it refers to a version of the bible, the king james version (using older english than the New International Version), thus alluding to a religious aspect in regards to james’ arrival and/or play.
    Reasons why he or nike didnt go another route:
    LEBRON ‘JESSE’ JAMES – connotes being an outlaw, and he’s not a bad guy, remember?
    LEBRON JAMES ‘JOYCE’ – too modernist avant-garde, altho painting his career as an ‘odyssey’ would’ve been so rad.
    LEBRON’D’, JAMES ‘BOND’ – brond only kinda rhymes w bond and, of course, the whole international spy and assassin thing.
    LEBRON JAMES ‘AND THE GIANT PEACH’ – i can’t for the life of me figure out why they didnt go this route. He plays w a large orange orb for a living, the original naismith baskets WERE peach baskets, and it appeals to kids!

    Yes, i do not work in the marketing dept.

  21. gmsingh - Mar 25, 2012 at 3:54 PM

    The best thing I’ve ever heard an NBA player do is when Dennis Rodman gave $25,000 towards the funeral of James Byrd Jr., a black man in Texas who was killed in 1998 by three white supremacists who chained him to the back of their truck and dragged him through the streets until he was decapitated. I never heard a single sports reporter mention this even once, but what the hell, a photo op with LeBron–now there’s a story!

    • blueintown - Mar 25, 2012 at 5:01 PM

      Clearly you did hear someone report this, because you are relaying it now. Rodman’s donation was all over the news, I remember it well.

      • gmsingh - Mar 26, 2012 at 7:42 AM

        Yes, it was reported, but it was in no story by a sports reporter that I ever saw. That might be why I used the words “sports reporter” in my post. Was this confusing?

      • blueintown - Mar 26, 2012 at 10:34 AM

        No, it wasn’t confusing. It was a sports-related story involving a sports star reported by a vast number of sports reporters. If you didn’t hear about it from a sports reporter, you must not have been listening very well.

      • gmsingh - Mar 27, 2012 at 8:30 AM

        Or you could be lying.

      • blueintown - Mar 27, 2012 at 10:17 PM could you. I guess that’s as far as this goes.

      • gmsingh - Mar 30, 2012 at 6:28 PM

        Yes, I’m lying about not seeing articles. Excellent logic, Mr. Spock.

      • blueintown - Apr 4, 2012 at 9:19 AM

        So it’s logical for me to lie but not for you? Hmm.

  22. glink123 - Mar 25, 2012 at 5:24 PM

    The first paragraph is all I needed to read. “A story about LeBron James, that has nothing to do with basketball”? I’m sorry, I thought this was a blog about sports. If I wanted to read a non-sports story about the most over-exposed and over-hyped person on the planet, who’s sole contribution to society is being paid $$50 million dollars annually to throw a round ball through a metal hoop for 6 hours a week, I’ll watch E. You act like this clown is the second coming of Mother Theresa. Puh-lease.

    • carolinakid - Mar 26, 2012 at 4:21 PM

      Lol I sure hope he isn’t a sadistic, dictator groveling, Vatican tool.

  23. asublimeday - Mar 25, 2012 at 5:29 PM

    There are not many things more annoying on the Internet these days then the guy that does the stupid little “Cue the blah blah blah” followed by the 3…2…1… countdown thing.

  24. glink123 - Mar 25, 2012 at 5:45 PM

    and while we’re at it, if you really want to talk about real humanitarian contributions, let’s talk about Kurt Warner and his Habitat for Humanity projects. Over the past 4 years, Kurt has financed the construction of 13 homes across the US, giving them away to low-income minority families. Not only does he provide the financing for the homes, Kurt and his wife Brenda contribute weeks of their time assisting with the construction of the homes. Kurt Warner, Kyle Korver, both Iowans.

  25. ihatecomingupwiththesenames - Mar 25, 2012 at 5:48 PM

    Like you said, he should do this sort of stuff regardless. All the time. Without any fanfare. They all should. After all, they play basketball for a living. Not exactly buried in a ditch in Afghanistan holding off the Taliban. I appreciate the story, but it doesn’t excuse Lebron’s stingy tipping habits among other things..

    I was a waiter in Jacksonville FL way back when Shaq was with the Magic. He came into our little Italian restaurant with a few friends after a team practice at UNF. They ordered just about everything on the menu and the bill came to about $300. Shaq left $1,000 to cover the bill. He then volunteered to take photos with everyone in the place. Hard to forget Shaq-A-Claus in downtown LA.

    Two big superstar athletes paid unbelievable amounts of money. Large difference in self-awareness and gravitas though. I don’t begrudge big money to star athletes. It’s the world we live in. But I do take exception to greedy behavior like that. Shaq made my month. And I tell anyone who will listen about the good deed he did for me. I’ll always love the Big Aristotle for that.

    LeBron has a ways to go in the grace/humility dept. before I would even consider him in Shaq’s league. One photo opp with US service personnel doesn’t begin to scratch the service of what athletes like LeBron should be doing. All the time. After wins and losses.

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