I've read several folks comparing this to a political image rehab ad. Except what's key to me, and what makes this ad so freakin' brilliant, is that it doesn't look to defend or disown the Summer of Bron. The spot's refrain, "what should I do?" is defiantly rhetorical -- not only does he not want your answer, the character (and maybe the real James) doesn't know if there is one. It's not that he's asking the world to "agree to disagree," but rather, through the power of satire, ask if there's any stopping a runaway train.
And if there's not, well, the only possible answer is to acknowledge the absurdity of the situation and get on with your life. LeBron set out to make this offseason into a singular, memorable NBA event. He ended up doing so, just not in the way he, or anyone, could have anticipated. The Summer of Bron was as much about the intense, often unpleasant, disagreements over James' actions as anything he himself did or said. It was a spectacle, but not the way he planned it.
What should he have done -- when you take a summer as one gigantic, messy, slightly frightening whole?
We all went a little crazy. No one was perfect. And yet everyone thought they knew best, including LeBron James. And in the middle of all that, with every new episode magnifying and contorting what came before, James had to decide. Irony alert: "The Decision" was supposed to be a single, decisive occasion. Instead, LeBron ended up under a microscope all summer; not even the world's mightiest PR team could have supported the level of deliberation projected onto him. Even if such a PR team existed, hiring them would have in itself been a decision to come under scrutiny.
Do you want to live in that summer anymore? I certainly don't, and I was someone who believed wholeheartedly in both James' self-determination and his casting off of the "who da man" complex. It's like an election season; these things make us ugly, distance us from whatever principles we came to the table with. The climate may begin with a simple choice, or single issue, but before long, it's hard to remember the time when we got to think so clearly, so rationally.
What should LeBron do? Maybe stop listening to his friends -- though as the ad slyly insists, who doesn't listen to his friends? (answer: most folks with his kind of career would have some other professional help). Oh, and don't do anymore television specials. Other than that, we would probably all prefer LeBron just play his game and let us forget the whole thing happened. Or, even if you're resolved to hate him, let it simmer down into something manageable. Otherwise, the next thing you know, Carl Paladino is running for office.
I'll take the 2010-11 NBA season, thank you very much.