The SPORTS PHILOSOPHER says: “Cheer Up, LeBron. Some people don’t care that you don’t get the credit you deserve.”

May 21, 2012
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     Dating in your 50s is a lot like watching sports; the anticipation is likely to exceed the actual event.

     But then again, once in awhile, you get lucky and are treated to a knockout, or a bases-loaded double up the alley, or maybe even a hole-in-one.  (oh, brother)

Would you buy a used car from this man???

Would you buy a used car from this man???

     You might recall a couple weeks back I shared a few amusing yet frightening anecdotes about some of my recent online dating escapades.   If you missed it, here it is:    Pretty scary, huh?

     But I don’t want you to think The Sports Philosopher’s love life is only about chapped lips, exploding innards, and neo-Nazis.   Sometimes it goes okay.   In fact, I had a date that fell into the “good” column just last Thursday.   (albeit with a mindboggling twist.)

     I arranged to meet this woman at a sports bar in the San Gabriel Valley, not because I wanted to be able to catch a game on TV in case she had cracked lips, grotesque female-type surgical fallout, communicable diseases, an accent like Schwarzenegger’s, or anything else equally horrific in the dating-deal-breaker column (hey, that’s not a bad bail-out strategy, now that I think about it) , but rather, simply, I chose this particular place because it happened to be geographically convenient.   The sports part was irrelevant.   But as you’ll discover in a minute, once again the wide wide wacky world of Sport stepped in to reveal much about the Human Condition, while providing us all, I suspect, with a therapeutic dose of laughter along the way….

     So anyway we’re at this restaurant, casually munching away on some crispy tasty teriyaki chicken, whereupon I notice they have a bunch of TVs tuned to the NBA playoffs.   I deduce at once that the Clippers are playing the Spurs, a game I had no particular interest in.   But since all these TVs were right smack in our field of vision, just to jump-start the conversation I took the opportunity to casually inquire, “Do you like basketball?”   She replied that she did indeed like it, and added something vanilla about how exciting the games are and how much fun it is etc etc.   I volleyed back something suitably bland like “Speaking of fun, LeBron sure didn’t seem to be having much fun tonight,”, in reference to the great King James and his team, the Miami Heat, and their shocking Game Three blowout loss to the Indiana Pacers just a few hours earlier.

     But much to my surprise, my bland, innocent comment about LeBron produced a decidedly vacant look on my date’s face.   That’s when things got strange.

     “What do you mean?” she queried.

     “I mean LeBron and the Heat got pounded by Indiana tonight,” I said.   “Lost by twenty.”

     “LeBrand?” she re-queried clumsily.

     And that’s when I pieced it all together.

     “Is it possible,” I asked as calmly as I could, “that you’ve never heard of LeBron James?”

     Her eyes now widened and her brow wrinkled up like cheap polyester, suddenly the face of someone just accused of shoplifting or something.   But then she relaxed and managed, “So who is he?”

     No, I didn’t go off on her.   Actually I found it kind of refreshing.   One of the most famous men in America and she’d never even heard of him.   And this wasn’t some ignorant dummy I was having dinner with.   Nor was she some sort of detached, house-bound recluse.   This was a sharp, together woman; articulate, educated, worldly, aware, with a good job at a multinational company, a woman twice married, complete with grown children, with lots of friends, and someone connected with the world at large by all the standard electronic devices; email, Facebook, cell phone, television.   In other words, normal.   Worldly, well-informed, and normal.   Yet she’d never even heard of LeBron James.

     I calmly explained that LeBron was the best and most famous basketball player on the planet.   She said come on, how could he be the most famous one if she hadn’t even heard of him.   I said that’s what I’d like to know, and then assured her, again, that he was.   What about Kobe Bryant, she said.   I have heard of Kobe Bryant, she said.   I said LeBron was sort of tied with Kobe for most famous, but that this is L.A., Kobe’s back yard, whereas if you lived in Miami or anywhere on the East Coast it would be all LeBron, all the time.   She still wasn’t convinced.   So I gave her LeBron’s entire resume, how he had been voted the entire league’s Most Valuable Player three out of the last four years, including this year, how he was six-feet-eight-inches tall, strong as a bull, fast as a deer, jumped like an underwear-clad kangaroo, while also possessing the coordination and balance of a ballet dancer.   While visibly impressed with his qualifications, she still doubted the fame of this colossus, this superman whose name had never pierced her eardrum.   I added that LeBron is so famous that he, like Elvis, Fabian, Magic, and Cher, is habitually referred to solely by his first name.   She was unmoved.

     “I bet there are lots of people just in this stupid bar who haven’t heard of this guy,” she fought back.   I laughed and said okay, here, let’s ask our waitress.   The waitress was a perky young girl of Philippine or Malaysian descent, and of course a female, so I opined that if she knew, they all knew.   My date agreed.

     “Young lady, do you know who LeBron James is?” I enquired simply and straightforwardly.    

     “LeBron?” she said, couching her return interrogative with his first name only, as if I’d secretly greased her with a twenty-dollar bill just to prove my point, and then she quickly added, “Sure!   Basketball player.   Plays for Miami.   He’s really good.   My boyfriend says LeBron is probably the most hated player in the game right now because he says really dumb things and he’s got no rings to back it up!”

     I could have kissed that girl.   Nobody on Earth could have summed up LeBron any better in only one short paragraph of dialogue.   Her response was beyond perfect.   I couldn’t stop laughing.   We thanked her and off she went.

     After I explained to my date that “no rings” meant no championship rings, LeBron being, of course, championship-less, she agreed that yes the guy must be a big deal.   And that was that.   We spoke no more of him that evening.

     Like I say, it was refreshing.   Never heard of him.   Wow.   So many of us who are so preoccupied with sports tend to fixate on the teams and the players, as if their quest to win games and titles and awards is life and death for us.   Which obviously it is not.   Just remember, sports is supposed to be fun, it is fun, but it’s not life-and-death.   (….well, unless the Chicago Bears are involved, of course….or the San Francisco Giants.   Then it is.   But other than that, it’s not.   That’s what I meant.)   

     So take heart, LeBron.   So what if you and the Heat are always criticized unmercifully in the press?   At least not everyone out there is hoping you’ll fail, cheering at the TV when you do fail, or aching to remind you that in your whole career you still haven’t won anything.    Not everyone.   There are still a few uncluttered souls left on this crazy spinning globe who don’t even know who the hell you are.



*Postscript    As for the rest of the date?   Oh, fine.   It went just fine.   In fact let’s just say it wrapped up on a perfectly satisfactory note, and leave it at that.

after all….

….Man does not live by LeBron alone.

meet….The Sports Philosopher!image0031

Brad Eastland is an author, an historian, film buff,  undiscovered literary savant, and a sports-bar barhopper extraordinaire.    Brad’s other recent columns for La Verne Online can be found in the Sports Section under ‘The Sports Philosopher’ and also in Viewpoint under ‘Brad Eastland’s View’.   His columns on very old and very underappreciated movies can be found by clicking Arts & Entertainment, then clicking ’Upon Further Review’.   Brad has also written 4 fine novels* and over 20 short-stories.   

*To pick up a copy of his recently published novel of life at the racetrack, of triumph, and of utter despair, entitled WHERE GODS GAMBLE, a tale of American mythology, simply search for that title on,, or   And then order it.   And then READ it.   And then tell everyone about it.   And then read it again.   And then post your praise on Facebook.   He thanks you.   






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