Friday, July 09, 2010

I would've rather he signed with the Knicks

So LeBron James signed with the Miami Heat, teaming up with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh to form one super, cash strapped team. I really don't care what this does to his legacy or how this affects the NBA or sports in general. LeBron has no real control over those things. But he did have control over how he handled himself during this free agent process. And he handled it poorly, to say the least.

Obviously, having LeBron bolt during free agency would've sucked regardless of the result. There's no right way for him to have ditched the Cavaliers. No matter what, if he left, Cleveland fans would've been pissed off (not that I can blame 'em).

But it's the way he did it that is so.... frustrating? Aggravating? Infuriating? All of the above?

LeBron could've taken the normal free agent tours, visited various franchises as they pitched him business plans and then weight his options. He could've announced his new deal at a press conference, like literally every other professional athlete. It would've sucked, but it would've been par for the course.

But no, that's not what LeBron decided to do. Instead, he made all those heavy hitter come kiss his ring at an office in downtown Cleveland (after he went on Larry King and said the Cavs "have the edge"). He announced that he would reveal his choice during 1 hour live special broadcast on ESPN (allowing them to run the Cleveland Sports Misery Montage in prime time).

Oh, and he called the special "The Decision". The Drive, The Fumble, The Shot... The Decision. Awesome. Thanks for giving us the finger on your way out!

There are people out there that will say that LeBron doesn't owe Cleveland fans anything. And to a certain extent, they're right. LeBron gave this city seven years of high quality basketball and when became a free agent, he chose a new destination.

Does he owe us anything? No. But a little fucking respect would've been nice. I don't think that's too much to ask.

This is a town that watched him grow up, followed him since high school and 'witnessed' him become the MVP that he is. They cheered him, ignored the slights (the Yankees hat, the gratuitous flirting with other franchises), looked past the faults (hooray for more heat checks!) and stuck behind him in the face of national criticism (the worst part of this whole debacle is that I now find myself agreeing with Skip Bayless. Kill me).

And the franchise let his family and friends follow the team around. They built a new practice facility and upgraded the lockeroom and arena. Oh, they also built two 60 win squads.

And for the seven years of good times, LeBron slams the door on Cleveland in the most public and painful way possible.

What kills me is, he doesn't even seem to understand what he did wrong. He seemed completely oblivious when Michael Wilbon suggested that he might be hated. During his ESPN interview, he acted like the fans should be grateful because he "took the franchise to places [us] fans have never seen". Gee, thanks.

And sure, he's right. I'd never seen the Cavs have a 60 win season or get to the NBA Finals. But it's not like he should be bragging about any of this. His team had homecourt advantage these past two seasons and never even got to a Game 7 before bowing out. I've sure as hell seen the Cavs bow out in the second round before... but just not while their best player blatantly quit.

And that's right. James quit against Boston. There's no other way to put it (Dan Gilbert sure as hell knows). LeBron needed to step up and he failed. The Cavs had the better team but LeBron never stepped up and became a leader. It was a squad built entirely around him, to "win now." And when I read shit like this, I just want to scream.
A source with knowledge of the conversation, said James recently told a friend he would sign with the Heat because he didn’t see enough effort from his Cavaliers teammates in the playoffs
That's what was so frustrating about this ESPN lovefest, it's like LeBron's performance against Boston never happened. James (...and the Cavs) lost because his teammates (on those back to back 60 win teams) just weren't good enough (it certainly wasn't because James never developed a post game or decent shot selection). LeBron's teammates suck and that's the story and everyone seems to be sticking to it.

Nevermind the fact that Danny Ferry and co had to build and rebuild these (60 win!) Cavalier squads on the fly while James was holding a gun to their heads and playing footsie with the entire league. I highly doubt Mike Brown survives the Orlando series or Gilbert picks up Antawn Jamison's salary if they had a solid commitment from James. The Cavs could've done more (Trever Ariza?) had LeBron committed to them.

Instead, James decided to bolt and sign with the Heat for five seasons, which is a bigger commitment than he ever gave the Cavs (and seriously, Miami? With the fans that never show up to games? At least the entitled New York fans would've appreciated their talents on a night-in, night-out basis. Talk about a town that doesn't deserve it).

All I know is, the Heat better win at least 60 games next season. At least. I mean, we all know James can carry a squad of scrubs to 60 win seasons, he sure as hell better be able to do it with two All-Stars.

No pressure, Bron-Bron. You dick.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more.

Although, I disagree with one thing. I do feel like this will forever be a blemish on his so called legacy. It proves LeBron isn't the fighter he appeared to be in so many big games ('07 Game 5 vs. Detroit). It forever leaves our last memory of him as Game 5 vs. Boston. Everyone knows the old saying, "When the goings get tough, the tough get going." Right out of town.

If he feels better winning a championship by getting together with his superstar best friends, who he met with before free agency to discuss their futures, then good for him. Go win your championship. But know that you're acting like a kid meeting his buddies for a pick up game. You want to win, but you don't want to have to work to hard for it. It's like stacking the deck in a game of poker or turning the cheat codes on in a video game.

I'm not mad LeBron left. I'm really not. But I don't like being spit at on your way down 71 South towards Florida.

Nick...

Anonymous said...

Yo Ben....Josh here...writing from Japan....(Jess's bro)...

I've been reading your blog pretty religiously since the post-season and I've been digging it, but never felt compelled to comment until now.

I held my tongue (or keyboard as it were) during the disgusting playoffs collapse cause I didn't want to jinx anything. I saw it here on shitty streamed video on my laptop 13 hours ahead of you guys....I watched the greatest player we ever had throw up his hands and GIVE UP before the game was even over.

I think I knew then what it meant, but I held out hope...I held out hope just like everyone else until those two little words "SOUTH" and "BEACH" came out of his mouth and I knew then with utter finality that it was all over.

I wanted to believe that he had guts and balls and killer instinct and that someday he'd grow up and be a MAN and finish what he started....but deep down I knew he was just a quitter. I just didn't want to admit it.

A few hours ago, he kicked us in the balls and while we lying on the ground gasping for air, he stood over us and took a big old Cleveland Steamer right into our collective mouths.

I don't know what else to say. Still in stunned disbelief I guess. I never stopped hoping. You'd think that after the Browns' playoffs in the 80s, and the world series in 1995, the world series in 1997, hell even the playoffs against the Red Sox in 2007, not to mention the playoffs collapses in the last four years for the Cavs, that I would have learned my goddamn lesson to never, EVER have HOPE......but no. I still thought he was gonna stay.

Jess was right to root for the Spurs all these years. They have players and a coaching staff with INTEGRITY.

I just feel sick now. I want to fly home and personally rip that "WITNESS" banner down myself with my own two hands.

We are ALL witnesses...my ass.

One final note....personally if there is one TINY thing to be glad for, it's that he didn't go to the Knicks. NYC with their sense of entitlement, photoshopping him in Knicks jerseys during the regular season, as if it were all a done deal. Fuck those guys. Still...NY can't even imagine the feelings of betrayal we are feeling now.

Anonymous said...

One thing I forgot to mention in my previous post.

"LeBron James has to do what's best for LeBron James."

Really Bron? Referring to yourself in the third person? I mean seriously? Grow up kid.

Nick...

davemanddd said...

you said that "he made all those heavy hitters come kiss his ring" and i can't help but wonder "what ring"??? they didn't kiss any ring. they actually kissed his ass and gave him a reach around hand job. after all that, lebron gave cleveland fans a giant golden shower in front of a nationwide tv audience. who says you can't put an an x-rated porno film on tv??? lebron just did it. 'nuff said.

Ben said...

Josh, what's up man? I never knew you gave a crap about Cleveland sports.

God damn Jess and his stupid Spurs... blah.

Dave - I meant kiss his ring as in the whole paying respect to the mafia don stuff. But ya, the whole Decision was pretty god damn brutal.

Anonymous said...

Yo Ben!

Yeah, I've given a crap about Cleveland sports for a while, mostly by default cause it's where I'm FROM you know? But I think I may have to take up a less painful pastime, like hitting myself in the balls with a hammer.

I've been living overseas for MOST of LeBron's 7 year tenure in the Cavs, and I think that was the reason his betrayal hit me so hard. He was a symbol of my hometown, my roots, that I could be proud of and share with people over here. Basketball is not popular in Japan, but SOME people know who he is.

No matter how sucky things were back home, at least we had that ONE really awesome thing to be proud of...the greatest basketball player. And now WE are the ones that got played. That just sucks.

Jess had the right idea all along...Go Spurs!!