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The Most Important Lesson LeBron Has Taught Us: A Statistical Freak

by Leslie Ungar

NE Ohio thought this day would never come. If you listened to sports radio, former players and talking heads also thought this day would never come . . .  the return of LeBron “The King” James to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

As in the Odyssey, I thought LeBron would return someday to the Cavs. In the Greek epic, Odysseus’ struggled for 10 years to return home after the Trojan War. I don’t know how it felt to LeBron, but for much of NE Ohio LeBron’s exit felt like more than 10 years.

The problem with the day of The Letter, is that it defies statistical odds. There are almost no examples in the last fifty years of a player in any sport returning to his team of origin in the prime of his career. And here is why this is important to note.

We observe sports and politics because they are such public lessons. Our challenge, the challenge of mere mortals, is what behavior to emulate and what to not emulate.

LeBron’s second decision was an exception and not the rule. That is one of the many lessons from our NE Ohio odyssey. Vendors and fans alike are thrilled with the return. The problem is that it is not a return anyone can count on in their company, their team or their family. It is an exception and not a rule.

One day we may experience no traffic on the way to work. The fact is that it is an exception and not a rule. We have to make our “leave time” based on the rule not the exception.

Steve Jobs changed the world and became fabulously wealthy while doing so. The problem is that he is an exception to what a high school grad can accomplish and not the rule. It would be harmful for young people to point to him as an example as to why to not go to college.

First LeBron was a statistical freak because of his size and stature while in high school. Then he was a statistical freak because of his smooth and productive entry into the NBA. Now he is a freak for his return.

Our heroes teach us many lessons. One lesson here is that we have to focus on the rule and not the exception. We lived through the decision. We are all WITNESS to the return.

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