I kept true to my word last night for what turned out to be the final game of the NBA season, and I didn’t watch. I had an exceptionally good distraction as one of my favorite musicians, David Bazan, was in Akron to show off his latest batch of songs. Admittedly, David Bazan doesn’t care about sports. During his shows, the Seattle native does mini Q&A sessions with the audience. When asked whether he was a Seahawks fan, Bazan paused before changing tracks. “You know, we had a team called the Supersonics. I always thought sports was about the community,” before trailing off. Without completing his answer, David Bazan answered it perfectly. Interesting that Bazan was delivering that message in LeBron James’ home town of Akron while LeBron was losing on an adopted “home” court in Miami.
In the end, Seattle’s loss of the Sonics isn’t the same as a free agent’s decision to move. As we all know, though, this wasn’t just any free agent. We are also keenly aware that this wasn’t just any departure. While sports are ruled by contracts that legally bind parties to terms and conditions, as a business they rely on a very different relationship with fans to make money. Even if nobody violated any contractual obligations between the Sonics moving and LeBron James leaving in the way he did, they both violated the sense of community that professional sports fosters and relies on to succeed as a business.
David Bazan’s new album is called Strange Negotiations, and it is fitting. The most difficult argument to have with anyone regarding LeBron James is that question. “What did he do wrong? He was a free agent.” From a technical standpoint, there is no argument. That argument is disingenuous though because the whole pro sports business plan relies on fanaticism and emotion in order to create demand for its product. Fans aren’t contractually obligated to a team, but most of them feel inextricably tied to a team based on a sense of community or tradition. It is a strange negotiation, indeed.
I wasn’t feeling celebratory last night after the show as I drove home from Akron after a great night of music. I listened to the press conference with Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra. He talked about how much everyone on the Heat had sacrificed to be a part of it. He mentioned it at least three or four times in relation to questions about LeBron James and his underwhelming finals. I can’t believe that Spoelstra even believes the notion that the trio of stars on the Miami Heat sacrificed to come together, but he was speaking it as truth last night.
With that in mind, I’ll share some lyrics that really had me smiling last night. Obviously they are only as applicable as the listener chooses to make them, but these really jumped out at me from the stage last night and I was still thinking about them this morning. From Bazan’s song, “People.”
I know that it’s dangerous to judge
But man, you’ve gotta find the truth
and when you find that truth don’t budge
until the truth you found begins to change and it does
I know, I know
When you love the truth enough you start to tell it all the time
When it gets you into trouble you discover you don’t mind
Cause if good is finally gonna trump
You’ve gotta take stock and you’ve gotta take your lumps
or else they trickle down into someone else’s cup
below, you know