- The Washington Times - Monday, July 20, 2009

LeBron James is so lame. We know this from his facial contortions, agony-filled grimaces and woe-is-me facade whenever someone has the temerity to brush up against him on the basketball court.

We know this from his looks of disbelief whenever a referee fails to recognize the human-rights violations being perpetrated against him.

We know that when the going gets tough, the so-called king gets wimpy and threatens to take the basketball home with him.

None of this means James is a bad guy. He never has had a run-in with the law. His peccadilloes away from the court, whatever they may be, have been airbrushed out of the public picture of James.

That is as Nike would have it.

The shoe giant has millions of dollars invested in James, and it is not about to let anything damage that investment if it can help it.

That includes confiscating the video showing a college player dunking on the head of James during a recent pickup game at his skills camp in Akron, Ohio.

At least two videos that caught the sequence were swept up by a Nike representative after consulting with James, the NBA’s MVP last season.

That James is human is at odds with Nike’s carefully orchestrated public relations campaign, embodied by the deity-making line: “We are all witnesses.”

We were witnesses to James being in a snit and refusing to shake the hands of the Magic players after the Cavaliers were upset in the Eastern Conference finals.

We have been witnesses to the officiating double standard that allows James to hop, skip and jump to the basket and not earn a traveling citation. We have been witnesses to James showing up referees, running around the court in mock shock if one itty-bitty call goes against him. We have been witnesses to James trying so hard to be cool, hip and with it that it sometimes comes across as contrived.

We were not witnesses to Jordan Crawford’s dunk on James because of a fast-moving representative with Nike.

Imagine what potential shoe-buyers would have thought if the video had surfaced on the Internet. Imagine the devastating psychological impact the video would have had on those living in the Cleveland region.

It is widely suspected there that James could walk on Lake Erie if he ever put his mind to it. The video would have put the lie to that notion.

We know the dunk happened, too, because Crawford has publicly discussed it.

“I don’t think [James] thought I was going to dunk it, so he jumped late,” Crawford told Fox Sports.

And the rest has become the stuff of summertime legend.

And that leads to an obvious point.

If James had a self-deprecating bone in his body, a modicum of humility, he would not have allowed the Nike representative to confiscate the videos. He would have laughed about the dunk. He would have had fun with it. And his sympathizers in the media would have limited the damage.

It was, after all, a nothing pickup game in the summer, when common sense tells you that James hardly was exerting his multimillion-dollar self.

That is what James should have done. He should have showed a side of himself that is not so self-absorbed and consumed with his image.

Instead, this nonevent has received considerable traction, especially on the Internet, because it confirms anew what we already know about James.

He is spoiled and pampered, accustomed to having everyone genuflect in his presence.

And if someone forgets this golden rule, as Crawford did, then James has the offensive evidence picked up and presumably locked away.

That is the James we have all come to find annoying on occasion.

It is the James who wears a T-shirt that has the following message inscribed on it: “LBJ… MVP.”

That T-shirt reflects just how insufferable James can be.

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