Florida journalist, father of 2 marines, writes open letter to LeBron
LeBron James caused a lot of commotion over his recent tweet comparing basketball to war. In case you missed it, and for general context, here is the tweet:
While LeBron isn’t the first and unfortunately won’t be the last to compare a game to war, it’s no less troubling. LeBron continually makes uninformed, ignorant, and ill-advised comments to the media and especially on his twitter account and it’s amazing that he has no one in his life to act as a filter.
These comments on his twitter account aren’t the first insight to LeBron’s belief and/or comparison of basketball to war and teammates to “soldiers”. Just take a look at his pre-game routine, beyond the chalk toss, and to his handshakes followed by a salute. Each and every game. Where else is a salute appropriately used, except in military. Hell, just take a look at this ad campaign by Nike and it’s no wonder that he is so diluted, misinformed, and has no true barometer to reality. “Prepare for COMBAT“, huh?
Say what you want about LeBron, but I can understand why he does some of the things he does. It’s no less his fault or responsibility, but it really is sad that he’s surrounded himself by the people he has (that includes personal and business relationships). It’s crystal clear that they care more about their status, profitability, and ability to remain relevant than with what is best for LeBron. Unfortunately for him, he is so sheltered and blinded by his own fame and “greatness” and “royalty” that he can’t even stop for a second to see that his and his advisors’ decisions are hurting him.
But enough about LeBron… Joseph Schwerdt of the Sun Sentinel wrote the open letter to LeBron (and no it wasn’t in Comic Sans). Schwerdt is a father of two marines and has rare insight into what “war” really is and into what it really means to be a “soldier”.
Schwerdt doesn’t take an adversarial tact in the letter, rather an educational one. It’s clear, again, that LeBron hasn’t lead a normal life. There is no doubt that he lacks a strong personality in his life to tell him “no” or to be the voice of reason. In the open letter, Schwerdt says the following:
“Dear LeBron, just wanted to let you know: You are not at war. You are not a soldier. You can tweet all you want. But what you do and who you are is not even close to what they do and who they are.”
“You are probably a nice guy. And you are not the first athlete to compare sports to war; athletes to warriors; games to battle. I don’t mean to single you out. But it is time to stop those comparisons.”
You may recall Kellen Winslow Jr. making similar claims during his time with the University of Miami. Winslow was then drafted by the Cleveland Browns and he and LeBron played in Cleveland during the same period of time. I don’t believe they were friends or anything approaching that, but you would think LeBron may have noticed and taken note of the backlash surrounding Winslow’s comments at the time.
Schwerdt goes on to say:
“War. Games. Not even close.”
“We are at war. Remember? People die in wars. They rarely die playing the games you play. If they do, it is not because they are attacked or shot at or booby trapped by an enemy. People lose limbs in war. Their bodies are torn apart by IEDs. Their legs and arms are ripped through by bullets and rockets.”
“You play in arenas in front of adoring fans. You don’t walk streets in villages not knowing who the enemy is or what might be lurking on a roadside, around a corner, behind a door.”
Obviously everything stated in the open letter is true, but I’m not sure it will do any good. Following LeBron’s comments last week, I heard countless TV and radio personalities defending James and his comments. Blaming it on the culture of sports and common comparisons between war and soldiers to sports and players by coaches. I don’t buy it. To me, it’s just another example of constant coddling by “LeBron apologists”.
It seems as if nearly everyone has their hands out to this kid in one form or another. Whether it be for money, status, interview access, etc. Everyone is so quick to defend him so as to avoid the possibility of upsetting him should the opportunity arise that he can be of value to them down the road.
Unfortunately, it’s not doing him or anyone else any benefit.
Schwerdt went on to say:
“You chose to take your talents to South Beach. They chose to defend this country. We all make choices. Please choose not to compare yourself to a soldier or Marine. Please choose not to say what you do is war or battle. it simply isn’t.”
The letter by Schwerdt is dead on and provides insight from someone who truly knows what war is about. Unfortunately, it won’t surprise me in the least if it isn’t seen by most of America due to the inherent need to protect and defend LeBron James by major media outlets.
No matter how true and spot on this letter may be, the damage may already be done for LeBron. He has no one to act as a filter for him in his “inside circle” and even his major endorsors reinforce the idea of “War”. I hope that he and other athletes stop using this asinine comparison, but I just don’t know if it’s going to happen.