I went to the pre-season game the other night that pitted the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Toronto Raptors.
It was billed as a chance to see the league's hottest star, LeBron James.
About a week before the game, it broke that he might not be playing, and the complaints started. Shortly before the game, the Cavs held a press confrence to confirm that since LeBron played over 30 minutes the night before in a game against a team from Isreal. Long story short, he didn't play.
The next morning, it was all over the news. On the local sports call-in show, virtually every call was someone complaining on what a punk King James was for not playing.
Would I have liked to see the phenom play? Absolutely. Am I upset that he didn't? No. After all, it was a pre season game. In the pre season, the stars don't always play.
What bugged me about the reaction is how many people who said things like 'who do they think we are?' and 'they must think we are a bunch of hicks'. With each successive call along this theme, it proved we are.
Now, could it have gone down differently? Better? Yes. I have been to a few NBA games, (in Arco Arena, Sacremento and the Delta Center, Salt Lake). This was not an NBA game.
-Sure there were NBA players, out of the 12 best players from both teams, only 6 got into the game.
-There were no cheerleaders
-It was the quietest 9400+ crowd I've been part of.
Should LeBron have played? Yes. Don't get me wrong, every time you take the floor in a basketball game, you risk serious injury, (speaking from experience, I blew out my knew playing ball about 10 years ago, and it's still not the same..), but let's be serious, how likely would it have been?
Would it have made more sense for him to sit out of the previous night? Well, with Comissioner Stern's goal to globalize the league, they wanted to show off the next super star. The game was broadcast back in Tel Aviv.
They probably made a few NBA fans in Isreal, but they sure made a lot of Cavs haters in Rochester. Especially when he acted like he was going to get in the game, as chants of 'We want LeBron' echoed in the rafters of the War Memorial, only to turn around a few steps away from the bench and head back to laugh at all of us.
I'm not asking for him to play the whole game, or even a half, but would a few minutes have posed a grave threat? Probably not.
Bottom line, he should have gotten into the game. Was it as big of a dis on Rochester as Bob Matthews, Bob Lonsberry (who I sat right behind, thanx again to WHAM for the tickets!) and John DiTulio made it out to be? No. Will the league be back in town any time soon? Probably not.