The King of Philadelphia

He was the top free agent on the market. New York was desperate and offered him everything. He was a star. He gave them exactly what they lacked.

He was willing to deny them. Willing to take a major discount to be with teammates he knew and respected, to walk away from millions and the bright lights of Broadway in exchange for the opportunity to win somewhere he wouldn’t be number one, where others would complement his talents.

He had never won a title. He was a runnerup, probably would have willed his team to a title one season if it weren’t for the powerhouse that beat them in the finals to win one more title for their own tremendous core. So he knew what it took, where he wanted his team to be someday.

He told the media, “It’s about everybody having their own spotlight and then just doing what’s best for the team.” He meant every word.

But because he was a brash young black man named LeBron James rather than an Ozark folk hero named Clifton Phifer Lee, he became Public Enemy Number One and had his jersey burned in effigy.

True, The Decision was a travesty, and LeBron’s ego far exceeds that of Cliff Lee, and would-be Yankees are always more bittersweet than would-be Knicks. But beyond the rhetoric, both men are mortals, making mortal, fundamentally uncontroversial real world decisions. Both men want to win.

It’s a shame winning in both cases meant Cleveland’s loss, but who ever would have thought it would be Philadelphia’s gain?

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