Book Review: “The Whore of Akron,” Scott Raab’s “Search for the Soul of LeBron James”

by Cleveland Frowns on November 15, 2011

About halfway through The Whore of Akron, Scott Raab’s 300-page “search for the soul of LeBron James” (Harper Collins), Raab refers to the NBA superstar’s infamous televised “Decision” to leave his (and Raab’s) hometown Cleveland Cavaliers to play for the Miami Heat as “nothing but fodder produced by and for benighted fools capable of grasping only the simplest narrative.” It’s good timing, because halfway through Raab’s book, the reader should well be wondering about both “fools” and “benightedness.”

Also “beknightedness” with a “k,” which might accurately describe a long distance Cleveland sports fan with a longtime gig writing glossy celebrity profiles from the East Coast having been dubbed by a major publisher to sell a sensationally-titled book “about LeBron” that’s mainly an autobiography. The fools are just the folks who think they’ll come away from The Whore of Akron with any new insight into the most compelling athlete free agency in modern history, or the underlying conditions and choices that gave rise to the execution of the Decision that even LeBron himself has admitted to be a failure.

Credit Raab and the publisher for a measure of self-awareness here, at least. The book begins with a reminder from Bernard Malamud that, “[a]ll men are Jews, except they don’t know it.” And the accompanying promotional packet is headlined by author Stefan Fatsis, who explains: “The Whore of Akron is about a basketball player the way Moby Dick is about a whale.”

So why package Raab as Ahab to LeBron’s big fish?

For starters, because Raab has to be the most readily marketable writer who actually witnessed live the last time a Cleveland team won a major championship – in 1964, when the Browns beat the heavily favored Baltimore Colts for the NFL title in old Municipal Stadium. Raab still has his ticket stub, and carries it with him wherever he goes, including in the pages of Whore, where he presents it to the reader something like a baby-faced 19-year-old would a fake I.D. to a bartender.

Which only barely conceals the open secret of what really makes The Whore of Akron go; because just like his target audience of 18 to 34 year-old white men in Northeast Ohio then beyond, Raab really really hates LeBron James (the author established as much with a yearlong profanity-laced Twitter tantrum that resulted in the Heat barring him from receiving press credentials – access apparently much less important than the marketing here). Or at least Raab really really wants to sell books to a demographic that doesn’t want to think at all about how a bad decision by a twenty-five-year old — who grew up fatherless and went from living in his homeless crack-addicted mother’s car to become an instant hundred millionaire and global celebrity at the age of 18 — might also be a failure of society in some meaningful way. So he puts every last bit of it on the “megalomaniacal shitheel,” a “stunted soul-dead bumpkin” whose former fans “should have torched [their LeBron jerseys] with [LeBron and his] sycophant posse wearing them.”

The author does no better with the more micro elements at play here, paying little more than lip service to how the star’s decision might have been impacted by seven years of undiluted obsequiousness on the part of the Cavaliers front office, the press that covered the team, and everyone else at the periphery of that “posse of sychophants.” High-powered Cleveland attorney Fred Nance, counsel to LeBron and his family since James’s high school days, isn’t mentioned at all in the book. And most impressively, Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert — the home mortgage billionaire and the driving force behind Cleveland’s now-under-construction casinos who bought the NBA franchise after it hit the LeBron lottery in ‘03 (once described as a man who “sells illusions for a living”) – entirely escapes scrutiny in the pages of Whore.

Gilbert, who unsurprisingly granted Raab extraordinary access for this project, is just one of the good guys here; “a power lifter, a no-necked, thick-chested, thin-lipped brick of a billionaire, who builds business after business.” Also “a house of fire,” and “[Raab’s] kind of guy,” because he “once got into a fistfight at a friend’s bar mitzvah.” Nevermind why a grown-up would make himself the center of attention at a kid’s party in this way. And nevermind Gilbert’s (also infamous) reaction to LeBron’s decision, an ad hominem riddled “open letter” to Cavs fans containing an as of yet unfulfilled promise “to open the book on events of the recent past,” and a declaration that “people have covered up for [James] for way too long.” Nevermind what the fatherless superstar’s decision to leave Gilbert’s employ might have reflected of a desire to work under leadership that’s different from the kind that alternates between “covering up” and whistleblowing (think of a parent who’d respond to his child having been diagnosed with diabetes by threatening to tell everyone who’ll listen about how many candy bars he allowed the kid to eat), because Raab doesn’t want to talk about it at all.

Instead, the author just lets off a few conclusory shots at the guys who aren’t around anymore. Former Cavs GM Danny Ferry is dubbed “the world’s only 6’10” midget,” and “a man in charge of nothing.” Ex-Cavaliers head coach Mike Brown is the “pear-shaped,” “sunny” dope; a glorified “video assistant.” And all without a word of wonder as to any constraints that might have been placed on Brown and Ferry by their boss, or why Gilbert would let these supposed incompetents keep or have such important jobs in the first place.

In fact, one of the book’s more remarkable revelations comes when Raab explains to Gilbert that he’s “tired of hearing [Coach Brown] say how honored he is to coach LeBron.” Gilbert simply agrees, “I don’t like hearing that either.” Which is the end of it, because if you want to be perfectly clear about who the Whore is, the man in the best position to have meaningfully addressed any problems between LeBron and his coach has to have been as powerless as the author and the rest of the “real Clevelanders” who are all just the Whore’s victims. The megalomaniacal soul-dead shitheel Whore, who should be burned alive.

Here we can at least appreciate Raab’s demonstration of gratitude to Gilbert for creating and fueling the self-serving dichotomy to which this book owes so much. From his post-Decision letter, to slashing prices on LeBron-related merchandise to $17.41 (the year of Benedict Arnold’s birth), to selling the 2010-11 Cavaliers (19-61) as a playoff team in the preseason (to follow up on the absurd “guarantee” in his letter that the Cavaliers will win a championship before LeBron’s Heat), to setting a new low in owner/player discourse by taking to his Twitter account to call LeBron an “A-Hole,” the marketing strategy is unmistakable: It’s Dan Gilbert and “Real Clevelanders” over here, megalomaniacal soul-dead shitheel Whores over there, and absolutely nothing in between. In this way, Raab is just along for the ride.

Which is especially disappointing because there’s a worthwhile meditation on manhood and fanhood to be extracted from the Gilbert-brand reductionism here; an otherwise honest and compelling memoir about an author and Clevelander who’s overcome addiction and his own rough upbringing to become a decent husband and father. It’s an extraction that would be much less difficult if not for the severity and import of the reduction, and had we not been sold a “search for [LeBron’s] soul,” an “[examination of] the people who influenced him.” Yet Raab himself thinks Whore is an important enough statement on James to have hand-delivered a copy to the star’s house, and the book’s latest marketing video teases the book’s insight into “the giant royal cock of King James.”

So since LeBron isn’t likely to make it all the way to page 299 for the book’s most direct message to him (and in case he hasn’t already seen Vanilla Sky), I’ll lay it out here:

“Do you finally understand that it’s not easy?,” Raab admonishes. “Hard is the only thing that makes it mean anything, the only thing that makes losing or winning worth the pain of suffering.”

It’s true, you really can’t appreciate the sunny days if you don’t have the cloudy ones (it’s a big part of what makes Cleveland so great).

Raab continues: “You had no father to teach you that a man doesn’t give up and walk away, doesn’t point his finger anywhere but at himself.”

Right. Going from poverty and crack-addled mothering to instant hundred millionaire global superstar probably tends to complicate the uptake on these important lessons about finger-pointing, too.

And finally: “You had nobody honest or smart enough to tell you that you can take your talents to South Beach, but that those innumerable talents don’t travel alone … .”

Yes yes yes, of course. But why? Why wasn’t there anybody honest or smart enough to make LeBron see any of this?

We’re only left to hope there’s somebody else out there with a ticket stub to that 1964 NFL Championship Game, and enough “LeBron Book” deals to go around so that we might start to figure some of this out. Or else that Whore ends up serving as cathartic enough for Raab that he gets to it one day himself.

In the meantime, if LeBron does pick up the copy that Raab left at his house, his most likely reaction will be to shrug his shoulders and say, “white people.” Or if we’re lucky, just, “Clevelanders.” Either of which would be as fair as the “examination” he’s subject to in The Whore of Akron. And either way a chasm widened. Cleveland still, as much as ever, a “city of losers,” LeBron in Miami, and Scott Raab in Jersey, doing just fine; Gilbert’s Cleveland casinos opening soon.

  • http://bryanjoiner.com/ Bryan Joiner

    DUDE.

    All-timer, and not just for this blog. Be proud.

  • Avalanchepup

    Posts like this are why I continue to read your writing, despite living in L.A. You challenge assumptions and ask the reader to dig deeper. You also remind me of what makes Cleveland great despite all the challenges. Thanks. 

  • The Cuuuuuuuuuuugs

    Why are you making my head hurt? All this thinking is difficult… I’m going to have to go read some “Hey, Tony!”‘s to recover.

    All in all, I thought the discussion last night was well-balanced. Scott and Jim did a nice job balancing either other out AND actually providing straight answers to the other’s questions. In a society enamored with “Public Hall Discussions,” it was fresh to see respondents who didn’t care if they ostracized anyone by their responses.

    And the overall mood/vibe from the crowd convinced me of two things: First, that LeBron, unjustly or not, still needs more time away before being embraced again (think Jim Thome here). And secondly, ESPN will continue to air features, documentaries, and insider reports on the relationship between Northeast Ohio and LeBron James’ career.

  • kjn

    Fantastic review. This is why I come here.

    The more I kept hearing about this book, the more disgusted I got. Personally, I’d have serious issues with calling someone a whore just to encourage sales and line my own pockets. Lebron is the childish one in all this?

    Also, your review hit on something that I’ve been fixated on : the farther we get away from The Decision, the more I can’t help but notice the racial undertones to it all. I’m not going full Jesse Jackson here, but I think there is/was something clearly there. “Middle class white people upset at black youth for deciding not to work for rich white guy”.

    • 910Derp

      “Cavalier fans upset at homegrown superstar for deciding not to play for their team.” FIFY

      • kjn

        Both seem to apply.

    • http://twitter.com/cpmack Chris M

      By the way, to piggy back on what 910derp said, Lebron is still working for a rich white guy. Just not OUR rich white guy.

      • kjn

        “Middle class white people upset at black youth for deciding not to work for their rich white guy”.

        • http://twitter.com/cpmack Chris M

          Completely whiffed on the point, which is that he’s no longer playing for our team, so people are upset. But keep your bullhorn handy, Jesse.

          • kjn

            I’m not preaching. All I’m saying is that I saw some racial undertones in the Lebron thing.  Keyword: SOME. I understand the vast majority of dislike for the man comes from the simple fact that he doesn’t play for us.

            That said, I’ve personally heard and read some things that make me wonder if some of that criticism isn’t fueld by something else. When I read an old white guy preaching to a young innercity black guy about not knowing what it is to be a man because you didn’t have a father, yeah… I cringe a little. Bleeding heart and all.

          • http://twitter.com/cpmack Chris M

            There are SOME racial undertones in everything that happens in this country. It’s because we’re diverse, and that kind of thing comes with the territory. I’m also well aware that a select few idiots were tweeting racial epithets towards Lebron. That is going to happen, as truly unfortunate as it may be.

            the farther we get away from The Decision, the more I can’t help but notice the racial undertones to it all….Middle class white people upset at black youth for deciding not to work for rich white guy.”

            This just seems to imply a lot more than “some” racial undertones. Maybe I read too far into it, so I’ll just say that it looks like we’re on the same page here.

          • kjn

            Yeah, that final sentence wasn’t a profound indictment of Cleveland fans, but rather a bad attempt at an Onion-esque headline. Like I said, I’m not channeling Jim Brown or anything. I’m not here to troll. So I’ll just leave it at.

          • kjn

            Yeah, that final sentence wasn’t a profound indictment of Cleveland fans, but rather a bad attempt at an Onion-esque headline. Like I said, I’m not channeling Jim Brown or anything. I’m not here to troll. So I’ll just leave it at.

    • Anonymous

      Not Quite. Allow me to make a suggestion……it’s not white v negro. It’s a matter of CLASS ethos. LeBron was being paid enough to engage in loyal behavior. Gilbert made a huge investment in him. There is something to be said for maintaining a group when the cost of morality/loyalty is affordable. For LeBron, it was not too high.  LeBron engaged in stratospheric indulgences of self-interest when they weren’t necessary at an enormous cost to Gilbert.  He displayed the new American culture of atomized, small group interest pursued with indifference to those who are excluded from future benefits.  Humans are now reduced to their most utilitarian element. It’s the ethos of a deprived class.

      • Ripvanracer

        You are saying as long as somebody gives you enough money, you should be “loyal” to them for the rest of your life? WOW (see racism post above) The point you missed was that Gilbert soley bought the team to PROFIT off of Lebron. He NEVER spent his own money when they were overpaying all these 2nd rate free agents. Gilbert was spending the money that Lebron was bringing in because of his popularity and filling the Gund every night. Anybody knows (except Gilbert) that you can’t revamp a whole team every year right before the playoffs and expect to win. It was no surprise one of the top executives in the league (Ferry), and one of the top players in the league (Lebron) couldn’t get out of Cleveland fast enough after Gilbert fired one of the top coaches in the league (Brown) If you don’t believe me about Brown, then go ask the Lakers.

    • Believelander

      Uh….no. He went to Miami to work for a rich white guy. “Middle class white people” are actually middle class CLEVELANDERS (you know, the white, black, asian, hispanic, and everything in between) feeling like the black youth lied to them all. I couldn’t care less about Fatty McOwnerson on a personal level.

    • Believelander

      Uh….no. He went to Miami to work for a rich white guy. “Middle class white people” are actually middle class CLEVELANDERS (you know, the white, black, asian, hispanic, and everything in between) feeling like the black youth lied to them all. I couldn’t care less about Fatty McOwnerson on a personal level.

  • Vari

    Gladly promote Raab’s book with a hope to foster the continued hatred for LeDouche!  Hope everyone in Cleveland makes Raab all the richer for fueling the bitter hatred towards that turncoat.  Bravo Mr. Raab!

  • Anonymous

    FrOrange.  You get it. The ambiguity of right and wrong.  Good man.

    “Reason is 90% of treason. Intelligence is what the other side uses”.

    Raab uses that defect of human character to cast LeBron as all bad.

  • Anonymous

    I think that James is an egotistical narcissistic d-bag.

    The coughing incident during the NBA Finals was one of the most repugnant and revealing moments in modern sports history as far as I am concerned.

    If one could ever argue that there was a great moral and karmic victory of good over evil based solely on what happened “between the lines” in team sports, I would be hard pressed to refute the argument of someone claiming that it was the Mavericks beating the Heat  in the NBA Finals.

    But I applaud and commend you for repeatedly insisting and claiming that the story is more complex and cannot be told in a vacuum that walls off the narrative from the larger culture and society.

    That is the easy, cheap and sensationalistic road, and all you end up with incoherent heat and no penetrating light or The Whore of Akron by Scott Raab in this case.

    Makes for a good book tour–but it is no goddamn journey.

    Although I think that the economic and environmental factors that you point to when calling for a more complex assessment of James “decision” becomes a crutch that you lean on a bit too hard at times, it is a valid and vital point that needs to be made.

    I also really think that this is a story that you need to tell (or maybe were even born to tell) in a different medium or “platform” as the kids call it nowadays.

    A book by Peter Pattakos about James and NE ohio that assigned as much weight to the machinations and life of casino capitalist Dan Gilbert…that is something that would be worth infinitely more than the rantings of Raab that are devoid of substance when you get down to it.

    • Vari

      I agree with that assessment, however.  I don’t really believe Raab was looking to write a “think piece”.  He was writing with the same vitriol that Gilbert wrote his “open letter” with.  Which a great deal of fans will certainly connect with.  Raab could write a 300 page book that just said “F*ck the Steelers!” over and over again and people in Cleveland would be calling for the Pulitzer! 

      • http://twitter.com/cpmack Chris M

        300 pages of nothing but “F*ck the Steelers” should probably win a Pulitzer, if for no other reason than to make Grossi’s head explode.

      • http://hardawayhatespittsburgh.blogspot.com PittsburghisforManLovers

        You’re getting the hamster wheel turning in my head

  • Anonymous

    Everyone….tone it down. All this praise will expand Pete’s opinion of himself to Hindenberg proportions. Remember,  he can be quite a fuss-budget and has an unhealthy and potentially violent focus on Tony Grossi. 

    I’m one of Frown’s biggest fans, but worry about being an accessory when Grossi is found dissolved in caustic lye one day.

    • Anonymous

      Hindenberg: The Inflation an utter disaster of a Northeast Lawyer and Blogger’s Ego

      • Anonymous

        and*  <- stupid keyboard

        • Anonymous

          Thanks everybody for the kind words, especially rgrunds.

    • Anonymous

      Big big like for fussbudget.  

      • Anonymous

        You’re such a generous person. Hope your kids appreciate you.

        • Anonymous

          They do.  I’m lucky that way, thanks. 

  • Ron Brinker

    Fantastic. Another home run for Frownie.

  • Anonymous

    all this obscures the fact that LB is a choke artist that – sans a game in Detroit like 6 years ago – has failed at all big 4th quarter moments of his career, dating back to his high school days where the one close title game he played in he passed up the final shot and his team lost.  

    i have certainly toned down my anger towards him, probably have some sympathy for him, and have found other off-court things I like about him, but PLEASE lets not let all the irrational haters (like i used to be) let us forget that he is, by definition, a loser on the basketball court. 

  • Jaceczko

    While I appreciate what you’re doing here, Frowns, I’m afraid you’re just feeding a troll.

  • Anonymous

    F-ing white people. LOL.

  • Anonymous

    Oh, and love the review.  Especially that last double-asterisk bit.

  • Anonymous

    cheddar bay:

    gavin is down for for NIU -17;  fsozac is taking ball st. 

    • Anonymous

      brosef also got a pick in for NIU.

  • Anonymous

    i’ve very much enjoyed the excerpts i’ve read.  i look forward to receiving my pre-ordered copy.

    my understanding -based in the excerpts and raab’s jason whitlock podcast- was that the book was not an attempt to understand lebron from afar.  it was an attempt to give voice to the inarticulate and shameful feelings lebron stirred up in clevelanders.

    So why package Raab as Captain Ahab to LeBron’s big fish?
    why indeed.

    that’s about as far as i should go having not read the book yet.

    • Anonymous

      “the book was not an attempt to understand lebron from afar.  it was an
      attempt to give voice to the inarticulate and shameful feelings lebron
      stirred up in clevelanders.”

      I think p gets to this well below.

    • Anonymous

      More to your point, here’s a facebook ad that directly promises an answer to “what happened”?

      http://www.clevelandfrowns.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/What-Happened.jpg

  • Anonymous

    i’ve very much enjoyed the excerpts i’ve read.  i look forward to receiving my pre-ordered copy.

    my understanding -based in the excerpts and raab’s jason whitlock podcast- was that the book was not an attempt to understand lebron from afar.  it was an attempt to give voice to the inarticulate and shameful feelings lebron stirred up in clevelanders.

    So why package Raab as Captain Ahab to LeBron’s big fish?
    why indeed.

    that’s about as far as i should go having not read the book yet.

  • Anonymous

    ” And poverty probably tends to complicate the uptake on these important lessons about finger-pointing, too.”

    Immorality teaches immorality. Poverty has nothing to do with morality.

    I grew up in the projects* on the west side in the 50’s. Most were single parent households, some had 5-7 kids in a 2 BR barracks. Many of us became successful –  in all walks of life. Physicians, attorneys, CPA’s (at least one), priests, ministers, community leaders of ever stripe.

    Poverty gives you an excuse but only if your weak enough to take it.

    * There were quite a few federal housing projects around Cleveland back then. Our “homes” were old tar paper covered former WWII barracks. The heat was a coal stove. Rent was $30/mo. 

    • Anonymous

      Thank you for sharing, Terry, but don’t you think it’s a safe guess that this integrated development that you grew up in in the 50s was a lot different from the PJ’s that LeBron grew up in in the 90s?

      • Anonymous

        Yes, much different. 

        We had no food stamps, WIC, Great Society, Head Start, Job Corp, VISTA, War on Poverty, Office of Economic Opportunity, etc., etc.

        Adults were forced to act like adults. Hard work was celebrated. Children grew up fast and responsibly.

        • Anonymous

          What a concept, huh?  I remember being mindful of our sports activities because we had no health insurance.  How we survived the inhumanity, I’ll just never know. 

          Being equipped to handle pretty much anything life throws at us…priceless, wouldn’t you say?

           

          • Anonymous

            Frowns seems to have banned me due to my pro-freedom, anti-gov’t health care opinions. My posts no longer register on his site.

            He’s an open minded liberal don’t you know.

            God bless & Go Browns.

    • kjn

      Are you saying that staying or leaving the Cavaliers was a moral decision?

      • Anonymous

        No.

        Frowns argues here (and in prior posts on James) that poverty was a contributing factor in the lack of scruples displayed by James.

        I’m arguing that poverty has nothing to do with a moral upbringing or the lack thereof.

        Morality, or the lack of it, knows no financial barriers. I’ve known poor thieves & liars, rich thieves & liars and thieves & liars of every economic strata in between.

        • Anonymous

          “I’m arguing that poverty has nothing to do with a moral upbringing or the lack thereof.”

          5,000 years of recorded human history tends to conclusively prove otherwise. It’s great that you grew up in an integrated urban project in the 50s. Cleveland was an especially great place for that at the time, and back then America was a place where it was much easier to make something from modest means than it is now. But exceptions generally don’t prove rules, and it’s still probably safe to assume that being raised in poverty by a crack-addicted single mother makes it harder on someone’s development than being raised under most other different circumstances. To suggest otherwise is actually insane, and really isn’t adding anything to the conversation. The subject is LeBron’s failure here, not Gloria’s.

          • Anonymous

            “Cleveland was an especially great place for that at the time, and back
            then America was a place where it was much easier to make something from
            modest means than it is now. But exceptions generally don’t prove rules”

            My point here is that it was NOT the exception but the rule. The exception was the bumb. Cleveland was like most other cities & if you think it  was “much easier to make something from
            modest means than it is now” you are wrong. The same characteristics that pulled us all out of poverty then (and every other point in history), are pulling people out of poverty today. Do you think study, hard work, saving and obeying the rules of society are concepts that only worked in 1950’s America? Please. The difference is that there was no taxpayer funded hammock in the 50’s & early 60’s. You knew you had to work so dammit you worked.

            All of these federal, state, local “poverty” programs for the poor are the equivalent of a new guaranteed contract for an athlete. Once you start getting it you need not work as hard or not at all. Your motivation & performance suffer. Unfortunately the “Performance” that suffers is your performance in life.

            To suggest otherwise is actually insane.

          • Anonymous

            I see the common denominator being family structure, or lack thereof.  Parental guidance trumps economic means and any other factors that are at play in the development of a person’s sense of who they are and what they can or cannot achieve. 

            How the forces of society affect us during our lives is determined by the early influences of those who brought us into the world, regardless of whether that is two parents or just one.  LeBron hit the jackpot in the athletically gifted sweepstakes, but it’s really quite meaningless because he came up empty in the drawing that really matters.

          • Bandit

            If I were to take this to its logical conclusion society should simply eliminate those in poverty and thus eliminate any issues of substandard morality. Which is simply not the case. Nor would this explain the historical fact that socialism does not breed morality. It is safe to say that perhaps being subject to poverty and a crack addicted mother does not lend one to being surrounded by the best mentors to influence your growth or provide for the simplest understandings of common decency. However in LeBrons case as has been pointed out, he was surrounded by a host of role models from his junior high schoool years on, and still learned nothing of decency, loyalty or respect. Either that reflects upon the role models who surrounded him, or on his personnel lack of selfawareness or both.

  • David McCullough

    When I read that the book was being written, I looked forward to some insights on LeBron and the entire situation regarding his leaving the Cavs. Not rumors, but something like ‘the story behind the story’ that Raab could get with his NE Ohio access which a super national writer like Adrian Wojnarowski (who revealed dozen of points) could not.

    The excerpts I read were a cross between a Terry Pluto superficial book about Cleveland sports with some anecdotes sprinkled in, mixed with Hunter Thompson’s gonzo journalism, and a big dosage of a self-centered writer that thinks America is interested in an area he so loves yet chooses not to live in or bring his children up in, as he’s still trying to find himself and to come to terms with being an adult (now in his 60’s). It reads like a guy you grew up with that you haven’t seen in 25 years, meet at a reunion, he shows up high and carries on about how hip he is, while you want to say, “I knew all that years ago, and please quit touching me and breathing on me.”

    My guess is that this book will sell less copies then Pluto’s self-published books do. It will be forgotten by most that heard about it, and not missed by the rest of the people. Perhaps Raab can give out copies at his son’s bar mitzvah.

    • Anonymous

      or Gilbert’s kids’ bat/bar mitzvah’s..  

  • Anonymous

    Thanks everybody for the kind words.

  • http://sheahey.blogspot.com Coachie Ballgames

    great review. 
    projecting our wants and hopes onto a stranger is infantile. expecting strangers to adhere to a moral code we would never adhere to ourselves is bizarre and part of what makes most sports media intolerable. 

  • http://twitter.com/Dennymayo Denny

    It’s been a while since I last stopped by, Pete – but I’m really glad that I did. I’m going to read the book eventually, but wait until some of the din has gone away and I can read it fresh without anyone’s opinions ringing in my ears.

    It’s going to be tough to get your opinion to stop ringing though. Great piece.

    • Anonymous

      Thanks, Denny. Really, don’t be a stranger.

  • Anonymous

    your review reminded me of this: “our awareness is all that is alive and maybe sacred in any of us.  everything else about us is dead machinery.”*  i think lack of awareness is what allowed lebron james to turn into a piece of dead machinery when it came to his evaluating the wisdom of “the decision,” and I think lack of awareness is what allowed (allows?) scott raab to hate lebron james for the decision without even trying to understand, in any meaningful way, how and why lebron did what he did.  the difference, of course, is that there is a really good argument – not made anywhere in raab’s book, apparently – that lebron’s lack of awareness was not purposeful (or at least not entirely purposeful); instead, it was what  happened when a perfect storm of abject poverty, unbridled success, absent or terribly bad counsel, and lavish spoiling came together.  the same can’t be said of raab – his lack of awareness about the micro and macro elements that led to the decision is most certainly purposeful.    and while it’s fair for raab (and the rest of us) to criticize the way lebron held himself out to the world when he made “the decision,” offering up criticism that lacks real awareness – and apparently that’s part of what this book does – is not fair, or productive, or helpful.
     
    i  guess it might be true that some things hit you so hard that you turn to dead machinery when trying to evaluate them – when that happens it’s not so much that you are purposefully unaware of complicating factors; it’s that you are actually temporarily insane and therefore unable to evaluate an event in a rational way.  and it would be ok, actually, if raab’s book was exactly that: a memoir about how he, a long suffering, diehard Cleveland fan, was rendered temporarily insane by “the decision,” such that he could not evaluate lebron’s motives rationally, and instead could feel only abject hatred.   but that’s not what the book is, or at least that’s not what raab is saying the book is (and, as you point out, how he holds this book out to the world counts for raab in the same way that how he held himself out to the world during “the decision” counted for lebron). it’s really sad – and awful – that this book, which could’ve been a moment of awakening, and a stepping off point for moving from temporary insanity to  awareness and enlightenment, is instead a celebration of being – and staying – eyes wide shut.  

    *kurt vonnegut, of course    

    • Jack

      Excellent post. As someone who sympathizes with those hurt by the decision, I can’t buy what Raab is saying. Maybe it’s the fact that he essentially did the same thing as Lebron while having a much worse history. I know his point is that he has done the same thing, saw the light, grew up, whatever but Lebron isn’t a 59 year old reflecting on his life. Raab seems almost ingenuine to me. Haven’t read the book nor do I plan to.

  • Anonymous

    Bomani Jones is not optimistic about the ability of the average book buyer to cut through the Gilbert-brand reductionism here. https://twitter.com/#!/bomani_jones/status/136598932829650944

  • Sam Sneeda

    The ridiculous title is enough for me not to read…I’ll trust Frowner’s take.

  • Bandit

    Some how after reading the book and this column, I can see little difference in the preception of Gilbert in Cleveland vs that of No Show Holmgren. Both self serving meglamaniacs destined to direct Cleveland sports down the tubes. Although in the case of Gilbert at least he believes what he says, and the Heat may never win a championship with the self appointed King of Sycophants.

  • Anonymous

    Anyone else who bought Whore of Akron get a defective copy?  Mine goes up to page 50, has the chapter title page for chapter three, but then jumps back and has page 21 through 50 again, before picking back up with chapter three.

    • Anonymous

      Actually, it skips chapter 3 entirely.  Am I missing out on anything?

      • Anonymous

        Sounds like you got a defective copy. If it makes you feel any better, my copy was defective, too. It didn’t contain any questions about how LeBron’s decision might have been impacted by seven
        years of undiluted obsequiousness on the part of the Cavaliers front
        office, the press that covered the team, and everyone else at the
        periphery of LeBron’s sychophant posse, and it there weren’t any questions in it about what LeBron’s decision to leave Gilbert’s employ might have have
        reflected of a desire to work under leadership that’s different
        from the kind that alternates between “covering up” and whistleblowing.

  • http://twitter.com/byRiverBurns River Burns

    Instant classic.  I didn’t want it to be like this, but I can’t deny that all of this is the truth.

    This right here is the reason so many people keep coming back to this site.

  • http://twitter.com/static06 Tim Blank

    ….you have no idea how refreshing this was to see a Clevelander actually take shots at other folks rather than LeBron for that whole debacle. I read this from DC where he was Kyrptonite to the Wizards for three straight years. This story on its face is nothing but pedantic fanboyism that I’m used to seeing out of Star Wars fans, its just so refreshing to see someone like you point out the other factors.

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