Any true NASCAR fan who saw LeBron James’ “The Decision” merely yawned, grabbed the clicker and used the magic of DVR to immerse themselves in “Stroker Ace.”
Why watch King James’ version? Been there, saw that.
Three years earlier, Dale Earnhardt Jr. was in exactly the same spot. He anguished over his options: (a) stay with the family team that had been his only home (similar to James’ opportunity to remain in Ohio) or (b) succumb to “if you can’t beat them, join them” logic and double down with Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson at Hendrick Motorsports (similar to James’ partnership with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh).
For men who face the kind of scrutiny Junior and James do, there was no correct answer. Stay put and you get some polite golf claps for staying loyal to substandard surroundings, but risk forever being labeled an underachiever. Form that conglomerate and (a) your success is considered sullied, since you didn’t have the chops to do it on your own, or (b) you fail to win anyway, and your entire skill set is questioned.
I thought having options was supposed to be fun.
Whether they know it or not, these two stars are kindred spirits, and it would be nice to see them both gain some peace within a few months of each other. James is three wins away from his first NBA title with the Miami Heat.
Junior isn’t as close, but he is fourth in points after two years in the abyss. More importantly, his demeanor after just falling short on gas at the Coca-Cola 600 screamed champion.
“Well be around for a long time,” Earnhardt said. “We’ll get plenty [of wins]. Don’t worry about that.”
For the second time this year he had been foiled by Kevin Harvick at the end of a race. When it happened at Martinsville Junior was downright fidgety, unsure of whether the success was a sign or an aberration. At Charlotte, there was no such doubt.
Denny Hamlin may be the hoops aficionado of the garage thanks to his pact with Michael Jordan. But hopefully Dale Jr. and his team are keeping an eye on the Heat and Dallas Mavericks.
They say you have to visualize your success before it happens.
If Junior sees James hoisting a trophy — and sees the potential irony — he may be a little closer to holding his own.