LeBron James once left the Cavaliers to go play for the Heat. There was an immediate cut to a group of fans outside burning his jersey in the streets when he made his decision to take his “talents to South Beach.” The reaction of these fans was strange, because of all ways to show their anger they chose to set on fire something that costs over $100 these days.
Ever since “The Decision,” whenever a star player leaves a team in some capacity there will inevitably be a video of fans destroying their jersey in some way — typically burning it. Some are doing it to show anger, the majority are doing it for attention. The most recent jersey-burning example surfaced online this week after Isaiah Thomas was traded to Cleveland.
James, fed up with burning jerseys and the double standard fans have for players, took to Twitter to vent. Check it out:
James isn’t wrong. The infatuation with burning jerseys is already played out and unnecessary. Choosing to burn Thomas’s jersey despite everything he did for the franchise is borderline insane. Not only that, Thomas didn’t even choose to leave Boston. He was traded. However, James makes a much stronger point about how players are treated when they do choose to make their own decision and leave. It’s a double standard where, if it’s good for the team it’s just business, but if the player makes that choice then they’re some kind of traitor.
James understands this all too well. He went through much of this sort of scrutiny when he left Cleveland to join Miami and at some point it has to be exhausting. Players are constantly painted in a negative light when they make decisions for themselves and that needs to change. They aren’t traitors. They aren’t cowards. They’re businessmen making business decisions. Just like anybody else when they change a job.