LeBron, Jerry Maguire, and the Great Privilege

I wonder what Jerry Maguire would say to Lebron James.

After the ridiculous spectacle on Thursday night, when the NBA superstar made it seem like he was more important than the Gulf oil spill and the Afghanistan War and every other major thing going on in this world, I think Jerry Maguire would be speechless.

I'm not a Cleveland Cavaliers fan though I feel for them (I'm a Washington Redskins fan, so I know what it feels like to hurt and hurt really bad). I don't even watch the NBA, so I didn't really care about LeBron’s decision. Oh, sorry, I should say The Decision.

What astounds me is the audacity of an announcement like that. Here's why.

He takes a round thing called a basketball and dribbles and shoots it. Right? He does it well, but that’s all he does, right? He’s a marketing machine and brings in loads of cash to lots of people, but still. He's an entertainer. Did he cure cancer or something like that?


LeBron James does something he loves to do. Something many people love to do. He plays basketball. Yet, like so many of us, I think LeBron’s gotten caught up in the whole notion of being “The King” and all that nonsense.

But again, at the core, here’s a guy who gets paid a ridiculous amount of money TO DO SOMETHING HE LOVES. TO ENTERTAIN.

Look, I never want to forget the great privilege it is to do something I love for a living. If people say I'm good or great at what I do, that's even better. But it's a privilege. I can never forget that. Many people out there are looking for any kind of job. Period. To have a job where you do something you feel you were born to do. It’s priceless.

Publishing isn't so different from the NBA. You have a whole team of people that come together to work on books. They require a lot of time and work and creative resources. When a book becomes a bestseller, it's not just because of that author. It's a combination of a lot of things--talent, timing, hard work, luck, and random choices that make a book sell.

I've seen enough authors fall into the trap of making it about themselves and forgetting the great privilege they have. The privilege to entertain. The privilege to move the masses. The privilege to create something magical for others to enjoy. And the privilege to provide a glimmer of hope in a sometimes hopeless world.

Yes, it’s a business, as LeBron mentioned. I understand that when the bank says I have negative dollars in my checking account. Yes, people need to make a living.

But it’s still a privilege when you are in the entertainment business doing something you love to do.

It could all be taken away from Lebron tomorrow. None of us are promised tomorrow. I don't want to over-spiritualize this, but I believe that you have to be careful about talking about tomorrow and the next day and the day after that.

If you have a talent, be thankful for it. If you have people who want your talent, be appreciative as well as cautious. If you have any success, thank God and don't believe the hype. Because it's not about the hype and never will be.

Let’s ask Jerry Maguire what he’d like to ask LeBron:

“LeBron, think about back when you were a little kid. It wasn't about the fame and fortune, was it? Was it?”

Jerry Maguire pauses in disbelief.

“Was it?”

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