Weighing in on The Debate

I am finally ready to weigh in. After all of the debate and all of controversy, I will give my opinion here. It makes me nervous. I think it might be controversial. But I am finally willing to put myself “out there” and tell you what I really think.

Here it is…

I don’t blame Lebron James for lashing out at Charles Barkley.

There I said it.

For those that just said “huh?” Let me fill you in. Charles Barkley is a former NBA All Star and is currently a commentator for TNT and he is continually been critical of Lebron James. James is one of the best current players in the game. As a matter of fact, there are those that say he is one of the best of all time. Recently, after Barkley’s latest criticism (calling Lebron “whiney”) James fired back.

“I’m not going to let him disrespect my legacy like that,” James said. “I’m not the one who threw somebody through a window. I never spit on a kid. I never had unpaid debt in Las Vegas. I never said, ‘I’m not a role model.’ I never showed up to All-Star Weekend on Sunday because I was in Vegas all weekend partying.

“All I’ve done for my entire career is represent the NBA the right way. Fourteen years, never got in trouble. Respected the game. Print that.”

If you are reading this for the first time, you might be thinking “Wow, Lebron really went personal there.” Yeah. He did. It just goes to show you that everyone has a breaking point in today’s hate-filled news cycle. Lebron finally reached his.

I often contend that Lebron is the most over-criticized athlete in the history of sports. He came into the NBA directly out of high school. He has exceeded expectations as a player. He is an intelligent businessman. He gives back to his community. He is an unselfish player. He plays defense. He wins championships (in Cleveland no less!). He is, literally, everything we say we want in an athlete. Yet he is constantly criticized.

As a matter of fact, the “worst” thing Lebron ever did was “The Decision.” This was the over produced TV show where Lebron initially announced he was leaving Cleveland to go to Miami. It was, without a doubt, a PR mistake. However, even in that moment, James had negotiated that the ad revenue go to the Girls and Boys Club. So even in his worst moment, he raised huge money for a not for profit.

So when Lebron lashed out this week against Barkley, I didn’t blame him. And here’s the thing…everything he said was true.

While Lebron is the most over criticized athlete in history, Barkley is the most forgiven. If an athlete did half of what Charles did today, we would be calling for him to thrown out of the league. He did all those things. They are, most certainly, a part of his legacy. We know about these actions, because of his celebrity.

What I find interesting is that many (non-celebrities) are going down an interesting road today. Though most of us are not famous, we are sharing our activities and viewpoints just as if we were…every day on social media. I love that. I feel like I get to know many of you so much better because of social media.

But do you ever consider your legacy? What are you sharing on a regular basis?   What message are you sending?  If you are constantly posting mean spirited, hateful pictures, vitriol, or political rants, that’s your “decision.”

But they are a part of your digital legacy.

Someday you may want to tell your kids to “be nice” or to “consider the other side” and they will be able to point to your behavior online. Did you lead a life you will want to be copied? Or will you have a history of behavior you would rather not recall?

What will your legacy say?

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