The LeBron Phenomenon

When I went to Cleveland in February of 2008 to see two Cavaliers games, I happened to purchase a LeBron James jacket -- styled like a jersey, the kind of thing you can only really purchase in a team’s home city. If I’d known that jacket -- and really any LeBron merchandise in general -- had magic powers, I might have bought more than one of them.

What are these magic powers you ask? Well, whenever I wear this jacket, people are amazingly nice to me, thinking I have the answer to the question “where is LeBron going to play next season?”

Now, given that I run a LeBron James blog and I work in sports for a living, I get this question a lot anyway. But these random people that ask me this on a daily basis have no idea of that connection. The latest instance came today when I was picking up something from Best Buy. As the security guy was confirming my purchase with my receipt, he said, “So, you think LeBron’s gonna sign with the Knicks next year?” For some perspective, remember that I live in Connecticut. Not Cleveland. Not New York. I live somewhere that has no vested interest in where LeBron plays.

However, location hasn’t played much of a role in this phenomenon. I’ve been approached by random people and asked about LeBron’s future in Los Angeles, Orlando, Las Vegas, Baltimore -- just about anywhere I’ve been in the last year. I’ve been asked by everyone ranging from professional athletes to the homeless. I’ve been asked morning, noon and night. And the amazing thing is, these people actually expect me to have some answer beyond “I have no idea” -- remember, these aren’t people I work with, or people who have any idea that I run a LeBron blog. They’re just random people, asking another random person what he thinks about the intention of a third person.

If you listen to the podcast, you may already know the most impressive example of this phenomenon. Back in May, PooZ and I went to New York, so I could buy the LeBron MVP sneakers. I was wearing a LeBron jersey -- it was WAY too warm for the jacket -- and nearly everyone we encountered asked me something about LeBron. PooZ was befuddled by this, particularly since New Yorkers have a reputation (well-deserved, by the way) of hating everyone. When it got to the point that the doorman at Tiffany’s was asking me about LeBron, PooZ nearly lost it laughing.

The amazing thing is that this only happens with LeBron. I have nearly 200 jerseys, and I rotate through them regularly (though now a large portion of those are boxed up in my basement). There is no other jersey that I wear that gets this kind of reaction. When I wear an Adrian Peterson jersey, no one asks me if I think the Vikings will reach the Super Bowl. When I wear a Kevin Youkilis jersey, no one asks me if I think he should be the MVP. But if I wear anything LeBron, I’m pretty much guaranteed that someone I don’t know will ask me about LeBron’s future at some point that day.

Unfortunately, unlike LeBron, I can’t hold a press conference to announce that I’m done talking about 2010 (and I wouldn’t anyway, since that would pretty much close down the blog). So I guess I’ll just keep answering politely when people ask me about LeBron. Oh, and in case you’re wondering, I told the guy at Best Buy that there was no chance LeBron would sign with the Knicks next summer. He seemed pretty disappointed.