by Kent Sterling
Shiny new NBA commissioner Adam Silver told ESPN Radio that LeBron James would like a longer all-star break to spend time with his family.
James is the face of the NBA and will continue to be until he retires, at which time he will have as much time off as he needs. Because of his status, Silver needs to at least pretend to listen to the selfish rants of a pampered athlete, and for some reason felt the need to share this tidbit with the world.
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The NBA has been pretty good to James, who will have earned $129,155,913 in his career when the 2013-2014 season wraps up, and if he continues to be employed by the Miami Heat through the various options in his current contract, will cash checks totaling another $61,770,000.
At that point, James will be 31 years-old.
The money James makes through marketing because of his status in the NBA and world basketball community adds significantly to his war chest.
But as long as James’ name is at the top left of check instead of the lower right, he’s an employee instead of an employer. I know that James came into the NBA right out of high school and never mowed lawns or scooped ice cream for a little extra scratch as a teen, but the most important rule in business is to listen to your employer, especially when it pays you $232,530.49 every time you show up for a game.
The best of us forget that from time-to-time, and certainly a guy under 30 who has already pocketed more than $200 million (all in) can decide to do whatever he likes with his life, but right now James is an exceptionally well-paid and respected employee.
James might not like it, but for now he’ll need to do what he’s told when he’s told to do it. Playing basketball is a tough life – so much money, such nice hotels, all that dribbling and shooting, and the adulation must be exhausting.
There is no doubt that players actually do work very hard – most of them – to stay in shape and improve their skills, and I have no doubt James is among the hardest working. The best at something usually works the hardest, but this request reflects a outrageous level of entitlement.
The sheer balls and cluelessness it took to walk up to the commissioner of your league to complain about the 82-game schedule is stupefying. No, James doesn’t get a minimum of five days off for the all-star break like his less talented, less well-compansated brothers, but 110-games or so over a nine-month period certainly leaves some free time.
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James’ request is incredibly self-centered even by the standards of pampered professional athletes, much less the faceless fathers who work a double shift for the privilege of investing their hard earned money buying tickets so they can treat their sons and daughters to a night watching him play.
Asking professional athletes to put themselves in the shoes of the fans who one way or another fill their wallets, but it would be nice if once in a long while a guy like James would make the effort. Might be even nicer if Silver knew enough about public relations to keep a conversation like he had with James to himself.