LeBron James Owes Fans a Refund
He owes them each a refund check for $9.35.
That's the least he should do for mocking every fan at the arena who paid to see him play. Cavs ownership that encouraged him should pay the rest of each ticket price, and mail those checks immediately.
James, with the blessing of coach Mike Brown, sat out his third consecutive game Sunday, not because he was hurt, but because he wanted to rest up for the playoffs.
Joe Hardhat, who paid a day's wage three months ago to buy two good seats so his son could see his first Cavs game Sunday, deserves better treatment than this.
It's arrogance at the NBA's worst.
It's why James never will earn the respect that was once given to Michael Jordan. Maybe James should think again about that number change to honor him.
It's why he just lost my vote for NBA Most Valuable Player. If he doesn't think it's important enough to play all 82 -- or at least try -- then he isn't good enough to be the MVP.
If stars like James think it's too taxing to play 82 games, then they should offer to reduce salaries during the upcoming collective bargaining talks, and ask to play fewer games. Or set up a refund system.
James wants to be treated like the game's best player, but he doesn't want to carry the responsibility that comes with it. Fans don't buy $100 tickets to watch him sit in a nice suit, chatting up Shaquille O'Neal on the sideline. O'Neal was recovering from a broken thumb. James was stealing money.
Forget that it's a nationally-televised game. Those people can just turn off the television, and tune in something else. Don't feel sorry for them. Feel sorry for the guy in section 118, row F, seat 6 who watched Jamario Moon get introduced in the starting lineup.
Although this happens throughout the league late in the season, that doesn't make it right. It's something the league needs to address during these CBA talks. Players are paid richly to entertain, and there is no entertainment value in seeing James smiling on the sideline.
This is not like Kevin Garnett in Boston taking a night off. This is LeBron James, the center of the Cleveland universe, Mr. Miraculous, and the only player who matters when you go to watch a Cavs game. There is no debating his wonderful and unbelievable talents. It's the commitment you should question.
Although he likes to think he knows NBA history, he must not. The greatest thing about Jordan was that he played every game he could. He loved the game, and he respected the fans, something James hasn't learned just yet.
Yes, the Cavs already had clinched the No. 1 seed through the playoffs, but that should not matter. It didn't matter to Jordan, who played 82 games nine times in his career.
Jordan played all 82 in 1995-96, 1996-97, and 1997-98 – when the Bulls clinched early and won 72, 69 and 62 games, respectively. He cut back his minutes, but he never cut back his responsibility to the game and the fans.
He even played all 82 in his last season, in Washington, when he wasn't very good anymore, when he was 40 years old. He did it because it was the right thing to do, something the Cavs forgot to tell James.
Apparently, James never watched the old school guys like Karl Malone and John Stockton in Utah, who combined to play every game a whopping 27 times in their careers.
If the Cavs weren't so nervous about James bolting town in free agency this summer, maybe they would have reminded him. Instead Brown has treated the end of the regular season like exhibition games. He should know better.
James isn't the only one with normal bumps and bruises that come with an NBA season. Magic center Dwight Howard takes more of a pounding than anyone in the league, forced to endure endless hard fouls because opponents know he can't make free throws. Howard, by contrast, is likely to play the last two games, giving him 82 for the fifth time in six years.
If James wants some rest, he should reduce his playing time significantly, and sit out the second half. It's just not fair to the paying customers, who are too often forgotten by the me-first players like James.
Howard isn't the only one who plays every night. Kevin Durant, who is dueling James for the scoring title, wasn't afraid to play every night. Neither was Amare Stoudemire. There are many others.
James has yet to finish a season by playing in all 82 games, which will be a clear mark against him when he is judged against the all-time great players in NBA history. Does he really respect the game?
The Cavs finish the regular season Wednesday in Atlanta. If he is healthy, James owes it to the NBA to be in uniform.