Open Letter to Lebron: Please, Keep the Mouthguard in the Mouth

Dear Lebron:

I know you're getting a lot of heat right now (Whoa, did I just write that? Sorry, sometimes these things just happen!) for your, um, appearance in the playoffs. Apparently people expect to actually see you play basketball when you call yourself the King and tattoo yourself the "Chosen One." Especially when you aren't really Jewish. Strange how these things work, huh?

But honestly, I'm not really concerned with if you score or how much. Like everyone else, I want Dallas to win cause they aren't going to. But once the series is over I, too, will care much, much less about Dirk Nowitzki and whether he has a fadeaway or a fever.

No, I don't ask that you play better or worse. Go take a nap for all I care. Cheerlead on the bench. Make your teammates pancakes.

But whatever it is you do, I have one, small, meager request: please, for the love of God and women basketball, please -- keep your mouthguard in your mouth.

At first I wasn't even sure what the thing was. Because the thing about a mouthguard is that it only works when it's actually in your mouth. I actually looked on Wikipedia and checked!

And you see, Lebron, when you're playing a playoff game -- whether or not you're shooting baskets -- there's a camera that's on you. You know, taking your picture. Live! And spreading that picture around to millions of viewers. Millions! In, like, 200 countries! Do people in China really need to see that thing hanging between your lips like some sort of mangled chew toy?

I can't speak for everyone, Lebron. I mean, I read that there's an average of 15 million people tuning in to these finals. Maybe some of them are watching because they want to see your teeth molest a palm-sized plastic object draped in your saliva. Who knows? People are into some weird shit these days.

So maybe it is just me. And maybe I shouldn't be so harsh. Maybe it's just nerves. After all, you aren't the only one with the compulsive mouthguard-chewing habit: the problem seems to have gotten worse as the playoffs have gotten farther along -- as though the more pressure there is, the more your mouth is inclined to spastically expel whatever's inside it.

And there is a lot on the line. No wonder you and your fellow overpaid NBA players are feeling the heat (last time, promise). A lot hangs in the balance! If you don't win the championship, there will be real consequences. People could get hurt, get killed, lose their jobs!

Oh wait, I forgot: actually, nothing will happen. A couple of really rich guys with suits the cost of small African countries will be really pissed off, and a medium-sized city will be bummed and disappointed. For a few days. And then they'll remember it's summer and get back to having barbecues and watching baseball.

So really, there's no excuse. It's ineffective. There are 15 million people watching. It doesn't, actually, matter what happens. And, frankly, it's disgusting.

I know "decisions" are hard for you, Lebron, but I think this is one that shouldn't be too difficult. Take the mouthguard out, put it in, whatever. Just don't let me see it for the rest of the series.

And then, really, I don't care what you do.


Elizabeth Tannen