The other day I was getting a service done and I happened to bring up the playoffs and the dismal lost by the Cavaliers the night before. The representative joked that there would be delayed service for a Cavalier fan. I retorted by saying that this discrimination would cause me to call in some agency to report such tactics. We joked for a few minutes taking playful jabs at each other over our favorite team. Then another clerk got involved and he too started to bash Lebraun going so far as to say that his injury was his own fault for bragging about a future acting career. It was then that I recalled the barrage of criticism that LeBraun had once received in his early playing days.
For some reason, as innocent as the conversation had been, I felt the blood rush to my face and I knew that I would not be able to joke much longer. I felt myself feeling defensive and what had been harmless banter had the potential (on my part at least) to becoming a contentious argument with two people whom I had just only met.
I knew then that our loyalty has to be much more. From patriotism to religion, we all seem to cling to something that is larger than ourselves and in any other context would have little significance.
So as I began to explore my own thoughts , I realized that for me Lebraun represents defiance over the odds. His youth was shortened in favor of his ability and his coming of age was done under the public gaze. Although he received a great deal of money, it is a cost that cannot be measured in dollars. Some Cleveland fans seemed to feel that they had ownership over his talent and wanted to cage him in and reserve him for themselves. His birthright to spread his wings as so many youth will do was stained by judgement and criticism. Yet he made the journey and returned to then as perhaps a lost prodigal son.
Though it seemed that few defended his right to grow in his younger days, I rooted for him. As I have watched him evolve, I know that he is expected to be super human in spite of injuries or bad calls. For as much as there are people who applaud who he is, there are others who remain cynical.
So whenever a person mentions the playoffs these days, my emotions are once again stirred. Stirred because I have had to face obstacles in my daily life. I have had to make choices that are unpopular and attempt to triumph against odds. Living on the streets is a triumph that anyone who has accomplished should be lauded and given praise as a survivor. Yet in our society people remain scornful and suspicious of us, unwilling to allow us spread our wings and grow as is our right. We too are booed and under scrutiny for choices we make.
Back to the game, I know that it’s just a game, but I would take a gander that some have more invested in the outcome than what a casual conversation can reveal. Whoever wins the playoffs, I will still admire what James has done throughout his career. He is another spirit that motivates me to continue on my low days. So regardless of the outcome of the game, he has gained my respect and no one can take that from me.