I’ve never been much of a basketball fan. I started playing hockey at the age of four or five, and that’s really the only winter sport in Wisconsin or Minnesota. I played basketball for just one year, in eight grade. I did so for two reasons, the Catholic school I attended needed another player and at that age I was already over six feet tall and growing.

I don’t watch college basketball. Unless cajoled I never fill out a March Madness bracket. And I only watch the NBA playoffs if San Antonio is doing well – their support of the Wounded Warriors at Brooke Army Medical Center in Fort Sam Houston was, during my time there, incredible.
For this reason I watched them crush the Miami Heat during this year’s NBA Finals, during the course of which I heard much speculation about where LeBron James might be playing next season. Today, he decided to return home to Cleveland.
His decision to move to Miami four years ago caused quite the media circus. This time, he announced his return rather stealthily, in a column for Sports Illustrated.
This is a feel good story on a number of levels, but that’s not what interested me about his column. What I found fascinating was his penultimate paragraph:
"In Northeast Ohio, nothing is given. Everything is earned. You work for what you have."
I do not believe LeBron was attempting to make a political argument with these sentences. I believe they are reflective of the nature of competitive sports, which in turn is inherently libertarian/conservative. There are a set of rules which generally do not change (I’ll give the NFL a metaphorical pass here) and create equal opportunity for teams to succeed but do not guarantee an equal outcome.
One can argue that salary caps have the effect of encouraging parity, but sports are inherently capitalistic enterprises. Quality and innovation are paramount. Think of the triangle offense in basketball or the West Coast offense in Football.
The NFL doesn’t spot the Minnesota Vikings seven points in every game they play because they’ve lost four Superbowls. That wouldn’t be fair, would it?
What’s interesting to me about LeBron’s column is that if he were talking about politics or public policy, instead of basketball, he’d be immediately attacked by the left. How dare he say something like that… income inequality and racism and conservative policies are keeping people poor, it has nothing to do with hard work…he’s making the Bill Cosby argument, and we’ve already discredited that.
But this, apparently, is just basketball.
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