Comparing Pujols and LeBron
In the wake of Albert Pujols decision to play for the Los Angeles Angels, and not resigning with the St. Louis Cardinals, I was reminded of LeBron James’ Decision to leave his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers and take his talents to South Beach and play for the Miami Heat. Both players left the teams that drafted them and where they had legacies in place as the greatest players in their respective sports.
When their decisions were announced, fans in St. Louis and Cleveland both took the streets burning their Pujols and LeBron jerseys, claiming that by leaving, they have tainted their legacies. However, there are some differences between the two in how they went about leaving their team and it makes all the difference in how they are seen in the eyes of the nation, rather than the crushed fans of the individual city.
We all remember the summer of 2010 waiting to hear where LeBron would sign as a free agent. As a huge Bulls fans, I wanted him to sign in Chicago and thought the combination of LeBron and Derrick Rose would be a recipe for championships. He taunted not only Chicago, but also many other cities, letting them think they had a shot at signing him. His antics climaxed with ESPN airing The Decision. A self-promoting hour-long special where he announced on national TV he would leave Cleveland and play for Miami.
This hurt Cleveland fans because he was a home-town guy who was supposed to be their savior and he couldn’t get it done and win a championship so LeBron left town to an easier situation. I feel like leaving from his team, where he was a god, and hoping to win a championship alongside other All Stars Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh stained his legacy. NBA fans saw this a cowardly move and running from his responsibility to win a title for the Cavs. This made LeBron the ultimate villain in the NBA
Pujols is a different situation all together. After playing 11 seasons for the Cardinals, he felt like he deserved to be the highest first baseman in the league. And he does, he is the greatest hitter in 50 years. Unlike LeBron, who was seen as running because it would be too hard to win a title in Cleveland, Pujols helped bring two World Series titles to St. Louis. He styed with the tem through thick and thin and didn’t desert his team. Pujols is also not leaving the Card to play with two of the top 10 hitters in the league either. It was simply the best situation for him to secure his financial security for him and his family. On top of that, Pujols let his agent do the talking and wasn’t on TV making his decision. It was announced like any other signing.
Both Pujols and LeBron are great players. Both know they are great players. But the difference between them, and the reason they are viewed so contrarily in the public eye is because of how they act. LeBron is arrogant and self-important. He needs the world to know he is still around and that he is “The King.” Pujols is much more reserved and just does his job without being flashy. He is one of the greatest hitters of all time and is also very humble. Hey, LeBron, take some notes on how to carry yourself. Maybe then people will stop hating you. Maybe.