LeBron James: The politics of The Decision

LeBron James can never run for Senate in Ohio after Thursday's announcement that he's heading for Miami.

Craig Ruttle/AP
A LeBron James fan waits outside the Greenwich, Conn., Boys & Girls Club before his press conference announcing his move to the Miami Heat Thursday night.

All-universe basketball hegemon LeBron James is moving from the Cleveland Cavaliers to the Miami Heat. What does that mean for the Republicans’ chances of winning back the House this fall?

OK, OK, so maybe those two sentences are not exactly, you know, related. But it’s pretty slow in Washington at the moment, and now that Anna Chapman has gone back to Russia, we have to talk about the political implications of something. Plus, lots of politicians lobbied Mr. James in an effort to win him for their states. President Obama even made a pitch for his hometown Chicago Bulls.

So here are three LeBron-related political talking points. Discuss.

LeBron James can never run for the Senate in Ohio. Until yesterday, James was perhaps the most popular person in Ohio. He’s dropped to the least popular in a day. Talk about a slide in the polls.

It’s not a stretch to think he might opt for politics after his playing days are over – lots of stars do, even impossibly tall ones. Remember Sen. Bill Bradley? But if James ever thought about representing his home state in Washington one day, now he can forget it. Yes, we guess it’s true he could still run, technically speaking. But candidates whose main issue is defense against extraterrestrial invasion would get more votes.

At The Atlantic, Josh Green thinks the James move will help Ohio’s Tea Party-backed candidates, on the theory that the Tea Party is the party of anger, and nobody’s angrier right now than Ohio sports fans.

LeBron James – Florida kingmaker? In case you haven’t noticed, they’re having a very entertaining Senate race down there in Florida. You’ve got Republican-turned-independent Gov. Charlie Crist running against likely GOP nominee Marco Rubio – who would have trounced Crist in a primary ­– and Democrat Kendrick Meek.

Prediction: they’re all going to vie to be the best friend of the most popular new guy in town, even though he’d make them all look tiny on the podium.

“Welcome to the Sunshine State, LeBron James! . . . GO Heat!,” wrote Crist on his Facebook page last night.

“Boom! @KingJames lands in Miami. Now THAT is how you make an entrance,” wrote Meek on his.

LeBron James = Harry Reid? Strained sports references are a staple of poliitical discourse. The megawatt LeBron move will produce more of them.

Here’s Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, appearing with President Obama on Friday in Las Vegas: “We’ve all watched very closely ... the LeBron James situation. I don’t know much about those basketball teams, but I know about a team that I’ve served on now for the last 18 months. It’s been a good team. We’ve been able to accomplish a lot.”

In other words, Senate Democrats are like an NBA team, or something like that. But are they the Cavaliers, or the Heat? That’s the real question.


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