Joel Blank: It's time to appreciate LeBron for all he does off the court, too
All the talk this week about the Astro's acquiring reliever Roberto Osuna got me thinking—why do we constantly focus on determining who the greatest of all time is in each sport? Debates rage on as experts and armchair quarterbacks believe only they can be right. Instead of worrying about who the greatest is or was on the playing field or court, why don't we focus more on who made the biggest difference and had the greatest impact off the playing surface?
When you think about all the great athletes of our generation and all the candidates for "goat" in a given sport, the majority of the elite have list of shortcomings. From the steroid era of baseball that has tarnished names like Bonds, Clemens, McGwire and Sosa—to the well documented missteps of Randy Moss and Ray Lewis well before they put they were inducted into the Hall of Fame.
What about Tom Brady and the cheating allegations he will be linked to his career forever? Regardless of if any of it was actually true or not, he has a label of "cheater" that will follow him almost as closely as his title of GOAT. Then there is Tiger Woods and the indiscretions that set his career on a downward spiral he has never recovered from. He went from a collision course with legendary greatness to a fender bender with a fire hydrant that ended up exposing his many off the course shortcomings. It seems like every sports hero nowadays has an evil, dark side that tarnishes even the most successful of careers over the years. Just when you thought all hope was lost, along came Lebron James.
Let the record show that I was a huge Michael Jordan fan back in the day, and I still think he’s the greatest basketball player I have ever seen. For as good as I thought MJ was, off the court there was always that black cloud that hovered over him in the circumstances that led to his father's murder and the gambling debt rumors with his dad's death.
On top of that, he was always afraid to take a side or stand up for social issues or causes because of his perceived fear from a marketing perspecitve. It’s in this instance that Lebron James is everything that Michael Jordan was not. The argument for GOAT may last a lifetime, but there is no denying how great King James has been when it comes to giving his time and money, as well as taking a stance on issues that need to be addressed from a political and societal perspective.
Lebron has put his money where his mouth is and donated over 50 million dollars to causes he feels passionate about. His latest venture has him opening his own public school for at-risk kids in his home town of Akron, Ohio. He refuses to shut up and dribble, as he stands up for social injustice and voices his opinions while taking a stance on issues like social injustice and police brutality and discrimination.
He is not afraid to speak out against anyone and that includes trading verbal jabs with the President of the United States. He isn't worried about his image or any potential damage to his revenue streams or endorsements that his speaking out could cause, his sole focus is to make a difference, take a stand and be the voice for the millions who fear they will never be heard.
He stands up for citizens for their rights, fights for their equal treatment and provides resources for the underprivledged youth of today, so that they can make a difference in society tomorrow.
Make no mistake, Lebron James is one of the greatest athletes of our generation when it comes to standing up, stepping up and fighting for what's right in the world and the people that need that support the most.
It's also worth noting that he is a family man, excellent husband, father and has never been arrested or in the public eye for negative reasons. So regardless of who you think is the greatest athlete of all time, please take note, acknowledge and appreciate those like the King who are trying to make difference off the court by giving their time, money and voice to numerous worthy causes and carrying themsleves with class worthy of such a dubious distinction as the GREATEST.