In the interest of full disclosure let me start out by declaring that I’m a die-hard Laker fan who has never thought much of LeBron James.However , inspite of that, I think that I am , first and foremost, a basketball fan and can address this topic objectively. Here then are my thoughts about LeBron and The Decision.
1. LeBron is right when he says that this is a business. He has fulfilled his contract and has every right to sign with another team.That having been said, he showed an utter lack of class in the manner in which he went about his free agency. I have no doubt in my mind that LeBron, Bosh and Dwyane Wade had agreed weeks, if not months ,ago that they were all going to sign with Miami . I just don’t believe that LBJ made up his mind only yesterday after a talk with his mother the previous night. All these meetings with the Nets , the Knicks, the Bulls and other suitors were just a charade; the failed attempt to get Bosh to join him in Cleveland was merely a smokescreen.
2.He could have shown more sensitivity to the feelings of the fans in Cleveland. In fact , he should have done so. The fans in Cleveland supported him through good times and bad and they did not deserve to be kicked in the teeth as LBJ did, unceremoniously dumping them after having kept them dangling for weeks. At ESPN’s televised circus, LBJ thanked all and sundry but he had not one word for the fans in Cleveland. No thank you for them , just… nothing.
3. I don’t agree that the Cleveland management did not try to get him a supporting cast. They tried , they tried hard but they failed. Let’s not forget that his supporrting cast was enough for the Cavaliers to get the best regular season record two years in a row. Let’s not forget that this past season, Danny Ferry went out and got Shaq( for a whopping $20 million) and Antawn Jamison and that the Cavaliers will be responsible for Jamison’s huge contract for another two years . The Cleveland management did not make the right moves but they cannot be accused of not spending money.
4. About Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert , I am of two minds. On the one hand, he has a right to call out LeBron after the way in which LeBron gave up during the Celtics series and after the way in which he walked away from the Cavaliers.Gilbert’s umbrage was justified but it was stupid of him to say that the Cavaliers would win a championship before LeBron and Miami do. At the same time , Gilbert bears a share of the blame for pampering James so much over the years. The press has until now been extraordinarily gentle in its treatment of James. The privileges he demanded for for his entourage, his petulant behavior towards opponents, his theatrical showmanship and his lack of heart have been glossed over all this time but expect the stories to come out now that the gloves are off.
5. I understand that having a LeBron James on their team meant a lot to NBA executives and GM’s but it was disgusting to see them grovel before James amd his “team” . I’m glad that at least that spectacle is over.
6. In past years , fans cried foul when the Lakers got Pau Gasol from Memphis and the Celtics got Kevin Garnett from the Timberwolves . There was talk of collusion and sweetheart deals. Why doesn’t this player collusion( when three star players decide to join forces) invite similar fury ? I also am leery of Pat Riley’s role in all this.
7. It is a little too early to say what this does for the Miami Heat. The Las Vegas oddsmakers have already made them 8-5 favorites to win the NBA Championship in 2011. It is a little premature to hand them the trophy until one sees how the Miami roster is fleshed out and how the three superstars play together. Those who point out that other superstar trios ( West-Baylor-Chamberlain @LA), Olajuwon – Pippen-Barkley @ Houston )were not able to win a championship are forgetting that one or more parts of those trios was old and fading. In this case , all three players are young and just entering their prime. Concievably, they could string together several championships in a row before they are done, though what this does for the credibility of the NBA I don’t know. Hopefully, my Lakers will hold them off in 2010-2011, and other GM’s will do whatever it takes to build up their teams and provide stiff opposition.
8. Whatever happens , The LBJ story will be entering a new phase. In moving to the Heat, he has lost a lot of his aura. This move acknowledges that he needs Wade and Bosh to get his ring and if and when he does it will not mean as much as having won a championship in Cleveland. Besides, Dwyane Wade is and always be the top dog in Miami ; LBJ will have to get accustomed to being Number 2, playing Robin to Wade’s Batman.
9. Fans have short memories but it will be sometime before the public forgives LeBron his cowardly abandonment of Cleveland. For the forseeable future he will be the most reviled superstar in the NBA and that will be a relief to Kobe Bryant who attracts as many haters as he does fans .