On July 8th, 2010, I sat glued to my TV, perched on the edge of the couch, as though I was watching my favorite basketball team, the Cleveland Cavaliers in a close game. My favorite player was about to state where he was going to play the next season, and then he said, “I’m taking my talents to South Beach.” I flung myself back on the couch and blew out a disappointed breath.
My son was just at the age where he was beginning to understand sports and had begun picking his favorite teams and players. The next day at the dinner table, he asked me where LeBron had decided to play. Still in a bad mood from the previous night’s decision, I mumbled that he was going to play for the Miami Heat. My son looked down at his plate and said, “Is Zydrunas Iligauskas going too?” I shook my head no (Although Big Z did end up playing for The Heat.) My son then shocked me by asking, “Does this mean we like the Heat now?” I felt as though a dagger began to slowly penetrate my back. “Of course it doesn’t,” I said. “We’re Cavs fans!”
I’ve spent the last 3 years being upset at LeBron James – for reasons that I can’t fully explain. I felt he gave a struggling city something to root for, and then he took it away. His was a great story of an Ohio born athlete bringing glory to a once proud city. He was exciting to watch, and because he was a marketing magnet, I was able to watch a lot of Cavs games from my home in NYC. (No, the irony isn’t lost on me that I also abandoned my Ohio roots for another city and state.)
Then, a few months ago, my son and I were watching the Heat play on TV and he asked me, “Can I like LeBron again?” There on the TV, King James was nailing jumpers, slashing to the basket and throwing down thunderous slams dunks, and blocking opposing players’ shots off the backboard. I could understand why he wanted to like this man so much. The fact was, I wanted to like him again too.
As I sat there thinking about whether we could like LeBron again, my son reminded me of the importance of forgiveness. As part of our prayers each night, we recite the Lord’s Prayer. That prayer includes the line “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.” Now, I’m not saying that Lebron sinned against me – he didn’t. It’s a basketball game and he didn’t owe me anything. But the fact is, I’ve lived my life like he had wronged me. But seeing as how forgiveness is a HUGE part of our lives, I had to forgive the man (even though he actually did me no wrong). And so I said to my son, “Yes, you can like him again.” I am still holding out hope that LeBron comes back home to Cleveland. My new favorite Cav Kyrie Irving and LeBron James would make a great combination.
I haven’t chosen which team I’m going to pull for in the NBA finals yet, but I do know who my son will be rooting for. And I’m finally okay with it.