Whose fault is it anyway

It is all the fault of Phil Knight and Steve Prefontaine.  Not until that point is sports history did an athlete become an icon in large part because of the shoes he wore.

In his BS Report podcast with Malcolm Gladwell about the documentary 9.79, Bill Simmons asked Gladwell if Prefontaine was overrated, underrated or properly rated.  Gladwell replied underrated.  His reasoning was that Prefontaine was the first athlete Knight was able to use to sell shoes beyond the people who followed his sport.

Prefontaine was a star.  He had the looks and charisma combined with just enough talent to make people notice track and field in this country.  Oh yeah, and to buy Nike shoes.

So it is to these two former Oregon track runners that we owe the presence of the ESPN Magazine/Marvel Comics “LeBron: King of the Rings” comic book.  It is to quote the release on ESPN.com: “ESPN the Mag and Marvel Comics have united to create LeBron: King of the Rings, an epic tale of zombies, clones, holograms, bionics and a star who will stop at nothing to fulfill his promise.”  Yeah.

So I will throw the responsibility of this steaming pile of idiocy at the feet of Knight and Prefontaine.

Look, I have no problem with you selling something to someone that no one really needs or has asked for at any point.  I work in retail; selling people stuff they do not really want or need is how we meet our budgets.

My problem with stuff like this is when this kind of stuff becomes more important to the athletes then you know excelling at their actual job.  Not that I think that is what LeBron is doing now.  I think it was what he was doing for a while near the beginning of his career.  He wanted to be a Global Icon without understanding that you become a global icon by winning championships and destroying anyone who gets in your way on the court to get those championships.

After Prefontaine, Phil Knight found Michael Jordan who did become a global icon.  The interesting thing is that he didn’t become a global icon until after the Barcelona Olympics.  He was the most famous NBA player but it wasn’t until being a part of the Dream Team and laying waste to the rest of the world on the biggest stage that he reached the global level of fame.

That is all fine and it is all good.  My problem is some guys want the fame and icon status without actually accomplishing anything. Every wide receiver comes into the NFL with their own celebration dance because they want to be Terrell Owens (How has that worked out for TO?).

That is not to say that wide receivers are the only ones who behave this way and it is not just a sports view of life.  A lot of people in the world want to see the baby without having to deal with the labor.  We can also throw some of the blame onto ESPN and other media outlets who show and report every utterance of the famous, semi famous, and other hangers on as if they are the gospel brought from the mountain by Moses.

Of course we are the ones who click, read, or listen to all this noise.  So maybe the fault cannon he laid at the feet of ESPN, Phil Knight, or Michael Jordan.  Maybe the fault is ultimately ours.


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