*Ed’s Note: There are a variety of reasons why an individual would choose to write an open letter: To state the author’s position on a particular issue, an attempt to start or end a wider dialogue around an issue, to criticize someone’s actions, an attempt to focus attention on the letter’s recipient and prompt action, for sheer humor’s sake and finally to make public a communication that must take place as a letter for reasons of formality. Justin Tinsley has done all of the above with the following piece and frankly, if he hadn’t have written it….I would have. Here now, is Tinsley’s open letter to LeBron Raymone James.*
Pending you ever come across this page, give me five minutes of your time. All I’m asking is for five minutes for you to read these next 500 or so words and internalize them. After that, feel free to laugh it off and go on about your day doing whatever it is freakishly talented, multimillionaires just north of 25 happen to do on a day-to-day basis.
I made one resolution going into the 2011-2012 NBA season. Only one. I’d keep my overexaggeration – some call it “stanning” – of expectations, results and issues involving you to a bare minimum. In seasons past, I’d quote stats, celebrate at every dunk, layup and chase down block since the early 2000’s. You see, since roughly my sophomore year in high school (2002), I’ve been touting LeBron James as the next iconic player in basketball. The one who would revolutionize the game the way players like Wilt, Oscar, Kareem, Magic, Bird, Jordan, Shaq and now Kobe have before you. I’ve dealt with the foolishness and laughed it off as simply those wanting to go against the grain. Hell, there was even one point in high school where I found myself in a 45-minute argument with my high school’s basketball coach. I proclaimed you as a no-brainer number one pick in the summer of 2003. He looked at me with a straight face and said Jason Gardner.
JASON GARDNER, dog! JASON F*CKIN’ GARDNER. I’m sure there are Cavs fans even with the implosion of the past two years wouldn’t go that far. I mean, the guy looked like Sisqo when he donned the blonde hair, for Christ sakes.
And then there’s the critiques about your game over the years. Your jump shot needed work. I said it would come with time. Your post game needed work. I said it would develop as you progressed through the league. You didn’t win a ring in your first “x” amount of years. I said your teammates were equivalent to lambskin condoms (nobody trusts them; nobody would even use them). Your “decision” to move to Miami. I pulled the left field “wouldn’t-you-move-to-Miami-too” argument. Hell, I even went as far to say the no-state tax follow up. For as big a basketball fan as I am, I’ve made every waking excuse over the years to defend your ranking as above and beyond the best player in the NBA. From an outside looking in perspective, it’s actually quite embarrassing. Here I am championing a guy who’s only 16 months older than me and he could pay my entire Sallie Mae debt off in one quarter. Screw it, though. No one ever said you had to be rational being a fan.
Perhaps you can say I’m the anti-Skip Bayless or anti-@LaughAtLeBron. And that’s fine, too.
But, look, and I need you to pay close attention to this next sentence: keep in mind this comes from a reinforcement position, but sometimes the greatest achievements come from the most gut-wrenching of failures. You need to chill the f*ck out and man the f*ck up. Look, I’m well aware you’re losing the most by not living up to the near-impossible career that was written for you when you were at St. Vincent-St. Mary. I’m also well aware you’re more plauged by the memories of your perceived shortcomings than anyone else. Let it be known though, Jack; I haven’t gotten over last June either. That was the most embarrassing thing I’ve ever had to endure as a fan of a player, especially when I all but guaranteed your arrival as the best player of the generation after tearing through Boston and Chicago.
The consequences still hit heavy. When I’m bored at work, there never fails to be Finals flashbacks. The Game Two fourth quarter meltdown. The abortion that was Game Four. The closing moments of Game Six. The point I’m trying to make is this. These past two games – Golden State and Los Angeles – they’re over and done with. There’s a good chance I’ll have forgotten about them come May. I’ve placed them in the past, but Bron, you, and I repeat, have to chill the f*ck out and man the f*ck up. Stop thinking about the game so damn much. Just go out there and show the f*ck out. Look at this way:
— If you make the shot, people are going to ask, “Well why couldn’t he do that in the Finals?”
— If you miss the shot, people are going to say, “See, he’s not clutch! (insert player) > LeBron.”
— If you don’t even appear to get involved, people are going to say, “He choked again!”
There’s no way you can come out the good guy in all this, no matter how you slice the pie. So, no Sandusky, grab your nuts and just ball out, man. Shit. There’s really not much more to say. You know what needs to be done. I know what needs to be done. Hell, it’s the talk of Twitter, blog sites and ESPN every damn day. You’re a title this June and star player on a gold medal team this August from being the greatest redemption story this side of Marv Albert and Michael Vick. At this point, I’m too far on the bandwagon to even consider abandoning ship. I’m a Cowboys fan, so it’s not like I’m not used to being let down anyway.
Forget “legacy” for the moment. Think about what Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez would do in this situation. He challenged “The Beast,” outran him throughout the city and damn near killed that dog in his own backyard. He knew there was a good chance he’d get mauled, but he went for the glory anyway. If nothing else, you have to respect the mindset. Heroes get remembered, legends never die, but these next few months mean more to my own sanity than I truly care to admit.
It’s time to get this thing done, or go up in flames trying.
Justin Tinsley, an emerging alcoholic