It is no secret that basketball mega-star LeBron James likes to play amongst other stars. He has a history of playing with the likes of Shaquille O’Neal, Dwayne Wade, and Kyrie Irving to name a few, and consistently seeks out players to join him on his journey to his self-prophesied fourth title. His most recent campaign for the Pelicans’ Anthony Davis generated such a shake-up in his current team’s chemistry that they face the possibility of missing playoffs for only the second time in his sixteen-year long career. Outside of the internal affairs of the team, however, fans and the NBA itself are also displaying their negative reactions to James’ recruiting tactics.
The fans have made it clear (at least the non-Lakers fans) that they extremely disapprove the thought of their favourite player being traded to or signing with another team due to James’ powerful influence. Of course, players are free to decide to which city they choose to go if they have “served their time” with a team and have served out their contract, but what is not so easy to accept is whether they should choose to put in a sub-par effort in the final year of their contract. This seems to be the present case with Anthony Davis, who verbally stated he was unhappy playing with the organization and was primarily interested in playing for the Lakers. This was not made any easier for Pelicans fans to swallow after rumours swirled about him dining with Lebron and his agent.
Beyond the fans, the league itself has issued statements regarding the possible consequences of tampering. This was, interestingly, right after Anthony announced his intent to move on in connection with James.
Given all this evidence against Lebron’s clear favouritism for certain players and his seeming disregard or ignorance of league’s rules, are we observing a clear form of sport deviance?