Damn near every media outlet by now has shared an opinion for the past week since LeBron James announced on July 8 that he would be “taking his talents to South Beach.” Now that the dust has settled, there are some interesting takeaways from all of this.
1. LeBron…you are…what we thought you were!
In the days leading up to LeBron being drafted by the Cavaliers in 2003, it was thrown all over the place that LeBron’s best natural talent was his passing. Not his scoring…but passing. This guy, at 6’8”, 250 lbs (at age 18!), an athletic marvel whose court vision was unlike anyone we’d seen at his age, was supposed to be Magic Johnson, not Michael Jordan.
That went all out the window, of course, when he dragged the 2007 Cavaliers to the NBA Finals*, which included the 48-point outburst against Detroit in the conference finals.
Suddenly, everyone expected LeBron to be/become/morph/surpass the greatest basketball player of all time. Sure, he has the natural talent to do it…but then again, so did a lot of other guys.
To be one of those guys, you gotta have it up here (I’m pointing to my head, if you can’t see.)
LeBron, as we have seen, doesn’t have it. And that’s fine by him. And that should be fine by you.
2. This is what happens when the inmates run the asylum.
I’ll give the Three Amigos credit…they worked within the rules masterfully, starting with those three-year extensions they signed in 2006 that made them free agents in 2010, then not even coming close to alluding where they would sign, created a sense of hysteria and anticipation that I have not seen in any sport in my lifetime.
And for the most part, everyone was fine with it, and LeBron, Wade & Bosh remained in everyone’s good graces.
Until they found a way to royally flush those good graces down the drain.
Remember when you were a kid and you wanted to have people over, and your parents either a) wouldn’t let you, or b) let a few over but for a limited time and you hated it? What happened as soon as you were 16 and your parents went on vacation and left you alone in the house?
I’ll tell you what happened. THIS happened.
3. Cleveland needs to get over it and move on.
Don’t get me wrong…it must SUCK to be a Cleveland sports fan right now. The Browns stink, the Indians stink, and the one hope your basketball team had to win a championship is probably condo-shopping on Star Island as we speak. But it’s not the end of the world.
As Seth Myers said on the ESPY Awards Wednesday night, “Cleveland, you don’t need LeBron James to win a championship…literally every single team that has won a championship has done it without LeBron James.”
Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and move on. After all, there are FAR worse things going on right now. Right now, I’d rather be a Cavaliers season ticket-holder than the owner of a hotel on the Gulf Coast.
4. Dan Gilbert scares me.
I know why he wrote that letter. He basically bent over and took it up the rear from LeBron James ever since he bought the team in 2005, and “The Decision” was basically the return on the investment. He was pissed. Hell, I could have seen myself writing a letter far more sinister.
HOWEVAH…the difference between him and I is that he pays people to prevent that letter from ever seeing the light of day.
What’s the purpose of having a PR department if you’re going to ignore/sidestep them to sound like a emotional 16-year-old girl whose high school quarterback broke up with her? And I know the Cavaliers have a PR department. I looked them up myself. Don’t believe me? They’re right here (click on the link and scroll to page 12. They seem like well-educated people.)
5. The Cavaliers can blame LeBron and LeBron can blame the Cavaliers. And they’d both be right.
What do Luke Jackson, Shannon Brown, J.J. Hickson and Christian Eyenga have in common?
Those are the first round draft picks of the Cleveland Cavaliers during the LeBron James era.
Those players have combined as many All-Star Game appearances and All-NBA team appearances as I do.
Combine that with some head-scratching moves from the Cavs’ front office like not trading Wally Szczerbiak’s expiring contract in 2009 and the Jiri Welsch trade*, and you can understand why LeBron would trade Lake Erie for Biscayne Bay.
At the same time, when LeBron signed that extension in 2006 and refused to even give a hint that he’d be a Cavalier past 2010, lots of free agents were scared off. It’s hard enough to get someone to voluntary commit to playing in Cleveland, but it’s even harder when you can’t promise that the lone reason you’d consider playing there isn’t a sure thing.
* – Here is the Cavs front office in a very large nutshell: In February ’05, the Cavs traded a 2007 first-round pick to the Boston Celtics for Welsch. He played a grand total of 192 minutes in a Cleveland uniform, scoring 2.9 points per game. Welsch was then traded to the Bucks for a 2006 second-round pick. Cleveland then traded that pick, No. 44 overall, to Orlando for some Eurotrash.
Meanwhile, Boston traded that’07 first-rounder, No. 24, to Phoenix in a deal that got them some young point guard named Rajon Rondo. The Suns picked used that pick to draft Rudy Fernandez. And if Cleveland had kept that ’06 second-round pick, they could have drafted Paul Millsap, who went three sports later.
6. Miami is (for now) the most hated sports city in America.
The second LeBron announced he was joining the Miami Cheats*, 49 states (led by Ohio, Illinois and New York) directed their venom to the southeast. Actually, make it 49 ½ states, because I doubt anyone living between Jacksonville and Orlando like the fact that the Magic may not even be the best team in their own division. Nevertheless, the Cheats* may have successfully become the NBA’s equivalent of Duke.
And this is scary for the rest of the NBA…because Duke wins.
*- I am convinced the seeds for all of this began in the summer 2006, when Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James, after all agreeing to sign those 4-year extensions, played for Team USA at the FIBA World Championship in Japan. USA Basketball had a young intern in Japan at the time named Nick Arison. Nick Arison is now an executive in the front office of the NBA team his dad, Mickey Arison, is the owner. Of course, that team is the Miami Heat. This would be the greatest tampering scandal of all time if it could be proved.
7. Can you blame him? (For the decision…not “The Decision.”)
You mean to tell me if you had a chance to do what you truly loved for a living…in one of the greatest cities on the planet…for an obscene amount of money…with the two guys you started in the mailroom with seven years ago…and your new gig would always have a chance to win Office of the Year (which meant more money for you)…YOU wouldn’t take it?
Yeah, I thought so.