lebron james on sports illustratedAs a longtime NBA junkie, I was pissed off and disgusted by “The Decision”, so I enjoyed seeing the angry mob of pundits from Jockstrap Nation taking big bites out of LeBron’s butt.

Of course, what usually happens in a bloodthirsty feeding frenzy like this is inevitably somebody will go too far and say something dumb and ridiculously inappropriate. This time, the guilty party was Jason Whitlock of Fox Sports, who actually had the gall to compare LeBron James with Mike Tyson.

After I read Whitlock’s column, it felt like I was hit up side my head with a big “clue by four”. Sure, watching LeBron’s public evisceration was amusing for a while, but then the severity of his “crime” was blown completely out of proportion.

There’s something we should remember: LeBron’s still a kid, and his coy, “Should I stay or should I go?” flirtation with the Cavaliers and the rest of the NBA was the kind of dumb thing a that a kid would do.

But, to be fair, not all of this is Lebron’s fault. In spite of all the unearthly things he does on the basketball court, he’s still only human. And when NBA owners and GMs turn into a bunch of giggling teenage girls on the way to a Jonas Brothers concert after spending the afternoon watching Twilight, it’s hard not to feel like a young Obi Wan Kenobi pulling a lightsaber out of the stone.

The Cleveland Cavaliers are a small-market basketball team that won the lottery big time when LeBron fell into their laps. Although David Stern will say (with a straight face, no less) how every NBA team has the opportunity to win a championship, the odds are good that if you don’t have any big-name basketball players, you won’t.

So can you imagine how it felt when your once-in-a-lifetime superstar started dropping not-so-subtle hints about leaving? It’s like the IRS grabbing that money you won from the lottery before you ever got a chance to spend it.

No, I’m not saying that LeBron can’t choose where he wants to play. The last I heard, he’s a professional athlete, not an indentured servant, so he’s free to leave the Cavaliers and play with whatever team he wants to. What I am saying is Cleveland fans didn’t deserve to be fucked with.

It wasn’t just dumb for King LeBron (“Hello, I Must Be Going”) James to dangle false hope in front of their faces; it was cruel. When a couple on their honeymoon night is floating on a golden cloud of afterglow, the last thing a husband wants to hear is his wife whispering his best friend’s name.

You’d figure somebody on Team LeBron would have been smart enough to put the brakes on “The Decision” before it turned into the epic trainwreck of a PR disaster that it did, but hey, they’re dumb kids, too.

But, going back to Jason Whitlock’s infamous column, equating what LeBron did to what Mike Tyson did isn’t just wrong–it’s offensive. Remember, all LeBron did was announce on TV that he was leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers. LeBron didn’t rape a woman in a hotel room. Mike Tyson did.

Maybe LeBron’s not a choir boy, but he doesn’t certainly doesn’t belong on an episode of “America’s Most Wanted” either. Compared to the bullshit other athletes have done, the besieged NBA star wouldn’t even rate a Dishonorable Mention.

For example, LeBron didn’t torture dogs to death. Michael Vick did. LeBron didn’t lie to his wife and have unsafe sex with hookers, waitresses and porn models. Tiger Woods did. LeBron didn’t kill somebody while driving boozed up. Donte Stallworth did. LeBron didn’t bring a pair of guns into a locker room. Gilbert Arenas did. And so on.

Twenty years from now, if “The Decision” winds up being the worst thing LeBron ever did in his career, then maybe the kid ain’t so dumb after all.

Sports Hey, LeBron’s “Decision” Wasn’t That Bad