Dear Mr. James,
I hope you enjoyed your time off this weekend, although I know the decision wasn't solely yours. I'd like to take a moment to tell you about my weekend if you'll indulge me for just a few minutes.
Let me start by saying that I was super stoked to find a Cavaliers game relatively nearby on a weekend that my son wasn't committed to a sports team of his own. In the winter he plays both indoor soccer and basketball, so scheduling gets a little tricky. I bought him tickets for the 2/28 Cavs vs. Wizards game in December as his "big" Christmas present. So- we got up early this past Saturday and made sure the dogs had a good long walk. Then I confirmed that my daughter would watch the dogs overnight, and that a friend could come by and let them out at least once on Sunday. We made sure our laundry and other chores were done for the coming up school week, packed our car up, and drove 4 1/2 hours to a hotel in downtown DC. Because the game was early, we didn't want to risk bad traffic or parking problems the day of.
During breakfast at the hotel Sunday morning, another mom approached my son (who was wearing his #23 jersey) and asked if he was excited about the game. She then explained that it was their first NBA game as well, and that her family was really looking forward to seeing you play. In the 30 minutes or so that we were at breakfast, I counted at least 4 other boys wearing #23 Cavs jerseys- along with half a dozen or so adults wearing the same. Just in our one hotel.
As we headed out onto the street, there were some shout outs and high 5's as we encountered other folks wearing your jersey. Because it was an away game for the Cav's, one can only presume that most of these people (like us) had gone to a fair amount of effort to be there, spending time and money in order to watch you play live and in person. I heard, "yeah, LeBron, baby!!" come out of several mouths as my son was high fivin' it to the Verizon Center. Before the game we ducked in to a restaurant to get a quick bite...where we encountered another 2 dozen or more kids wearing your number. I explained to our waitress that we were kind of in a hurry because it was my son's very first NBA game, and then I tipped her big because she made it happen and seemed to want him to make the tip off as much as I did. As we were grabbing our things to leave, my daughter texted me to tell me you weren't playing that day. I sent her a quick text back with what we like to call "colorful language" in my family, and was still trying to figure out how to break it to the kid when we entered the stadium. Turns out I didn't have to, because some middle aged guy standing on the steps in our section noticed his jersey and told him for me. Then the guy turned to the nearest usher and said, "Can you believe it?! I came all the way down here from New York to watch him play." On a side note, my son and I took a trip to China last year to visit my cousin and his family. We explored the streets of Shanghai and Beijing. We saw the Ming tombs and hiked the Great Wall. Do you know what my then 9 now 10 year old kid came back with?? A LeBron James #23 Cavaliers jersey- that's what he picked out as a souvenir. It's the one he wore to the game and he wears it every chance he gets.
To be honest, I didn't know that having perfectly healthy uninjured players sit out was a "thing"- my bad. Mr. NYC was also clearly taken by surprise, so I feel somewhat better knowing I wasn't the only clueless one in the stands. I'm going to go ahead and guess that most of the parents I saw toting around their own #23 short people were in the dark, too. Since I generally opt for humor in less that desirable circumstances, once we were in our "bloody nose" seats (his words, not mine)- I leaned in and asked who we were gonna pull for since you weren't playing. He said, "They still got Kyrie Irving and Love... we still want the Cav's to win!" And then they lost. Now I know this is not Parks and Rec league, or AAU or college ball. This is high stakes and big money and I would kill to have a job where my boss told me to take a paid day off and rest so I could come back refreshed and ready to shine for the next assignment. That being said, here's the deal: A lot of people went through a lot of trouble not to mention expense to come out and watch you play with your team. Whoever made the decision to have you sit out even though you weren't injured should know that. Would you mind telling them for me? For what it's worth, that decision also sent a message to every kid wearing your jersey (I counted 7 in our little section) that some players deserve special treatment- which in turn puts us parents in the crappy position of having to explain that type of methodology. The higher ups should know that, too.
Things don't always go the way we want them to- I get it. In case you were wondering, I'm not that mom that tries to shield her kid from all of life's little disappointments. I am the mom who loves to watch her son play, though. You can understand that, right? I hear your kid is pretty good, too. I love to watch him reach out further than he thought he could and barely tap the ball yet somehow gain control. I love to see the glimmer in his eye when he makes a 3 pointer. The thing is, I was really looking forward to watching him watch you that intently. Studying your every move so he can practice them in our driveway with his buddies. That was my Christmas present to myself. Just wanted ya'll to know.