Thursday, July 29, 2010

Breaking: Water is Wet

So some jackass wore a Miami Heat #6 LeBron James jersey to Progressive Field last night:
A fan wearing a Miami Heat jersey of LeBron James drew the ire of the crowd at a Cleveland Indians game and was escorted out of the ballpark.

Fans in the left-field bleachers chanted obscenities and pointed at the man Wednesday night during the sixth inning of the Indians' 8-0 loss to the New York Yankees. Hundreds of fans joined in before security led the man out of Progressive Field.

As he left, some fans followed him toward the gate with more derisive chants.


Look, I know not everyone will agree, but when you wear an opposing jersey to another team's stadium, stuff like this is going to happen (at least the trash talk and what not). And when you rock a #6 Heat jersey less than a month after LeBron skipped town, well, not saying you deserved it... but you were pretty much asking for it:

First, there's no defending the indefensible.

Simply put, the guy is an asshole. He knew exactly what was going to happen.

There's perhaps no worse place in America that you could wear a LeBron Heat jersey than the bleachers at Progressive Field during a game against the Yankees. Anywhere else in the stadium and he might not have taken much abuse — sparsely filled sections and families with kids don't really provide the right mix of alcohol and crowd-induced rage to carry an obscene chant. But the bleachers were filled to the brim because of A. Rod's possible 600th home run, and they were filled with the commoners, beer-addled, angry at a lopsided game, and already in midseason form spewing venom at Yankees fans who had invaded The Jake.

It began when the offending party waltzed through the home run plaza. An "asshole" chant broke out immediately.

I was standing on the porch the entire game so I'm not entirely sure what went down when the guy reached his seat in the bleachers, but judging from the events later in the night, it was a lot of the same thing witnessed in the beginning.

Eventually he was escorted out of the stadium by police. Whether this was for fighting, vulgarities, or just being a douche, I have no idea. From the video evidence, it looks like he might not have been sitting in the right seat, or fans weren't letting him sit in the right sit, or he just wanted to try sitting in ten different seats.

Should the guy forced to leave simply because he wore a different jersey? No. But when you wear the opposition jersey to a game, you have to expect to take a little heat. However, one of my most fun sports experiences was when I went to the OSU-PSU game in Happy Valley. Of course, I wasn't talking shit and trying to piss the natives off like this moron.

Can't wait til someone tries this at a Browns game. Not gonna end nearly as well.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Talk about selling high

The Tribe shipped Johnny Peralta to Detroit Tigers for a minor-league pitcher:
Those Indians fans who love to criticize Jhonny Peralta -- the number seemingly grew exponentially each year -- finally can relax.

Peralta was traded to the Detroit Tigers on Wednesday for minor-league pitcher Giovanni Soto.
Now, I didn't hate on Peralta as much as most Indians fans, but that's probably just because I don't catch their games day-in, day-out.

I just know that Peralta drove the die-hard Tribe fans absolutely bonkers. He seemed lazy, his defensive range was terrible and his offense output has dipped these last few years.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


(Note: Heh. I did not expect this post to grow this large. What started off as an overreaction to Bud Shaw making a crappy Evil Empire joke morphed into a giant LeBron thesis paper (footnotes!). It's quite long but I feel it's fairly coherent, though it does ramble at times. Proceed at your own risk. It needs editing it, but I'm lazy and sick of thinking about this subject but I don't feel like tossing the whole thing. Hopefully, this is the last time I write about LeBron until he actually does something on a basketball court).

Bud Shaw: New York Yankees' empire is not as evil as Miami Heat's.

Evil? Let's all take a step back, shall we? I think it's safe to say that we can all agree that LeBron James could've and should've handled his exit from Cleveland better. Had he written a letter like this, his departure would've stung a lot less.

But nothing about this process was, you know, evil. After seven years, six All-Star appearances, two MVP's and the franchise's only trip to the Finals, LeBron acted like an asshole when he left. Egotistical dickhead? Yes. Evil, unfeeling, traitorous monster? No. (You know what's evil? Taking a speech about overcoming racism, editing it to make it look racist and releasing to the public, stoking racial resentment in order to score cheap political points, resulting in a woman losing her job and thrusting her into the public eye. And then lying about it. THAT'S evil. /Not to get all political or nuttin...).

I guess I'm kind of surprised that I'm in the minority in disagreeing with Bill Livingston's call to never retire LeBron's number. I can't help feeling that we're overreacting just a tad.

I think I understand the grievances pretty well. They are, in no particular order: he signed a contract with Miami that was longer than any he signed with Cleveland, he didn't like the same baseball team as the rest of us, Game 5 wasn't the first time he gave poor effort*, he's helping recruit more players to Miami than he ever did to Cleveland, he didn't marry his girlfriend, he was a bad tipper**, he left via The Decision, he quit in the Boston series (most notably Game 5***) and, finally, he's a big time jerk/cocksucker/quitter/fraud/traitor/asshole/liar/douchenozzle/scruffy looking nerf herder.

Safe to say, Cavs fans are pretty pissed. Oh, and as for Bill Simmons and this mailbag quip:

Q: You missed one thing at the NBA draft that only a hypersensitive Seattleite still mourning the loss of the Sonics would catch: Kevin Durant was seated in section 206 at last night's draft. 206 is Seattle's area code. Kill me now.
-- Ben, Seattle

SG: Remember, Cavs fans -- things could be worse. You could live in Seattle.

Um, the Browns franchise moved away and won a SuperBowl five years later. Oh, and the team we got for compensation has been worse than putrid. Plus, we live in Cleveland. Your move, Seattle.

I know we all feel betrayed that LeBron left and the way he went about it was stupid. But this is as mad as we're ever gonna be (well, probably. If he shows up to Miami with a jump hook and a turnaround fade, I'm gonna murder someone). Obviously, the Cavs won't be retiring LeBron's number anytime soon but I don't think "at some point in future" is really out of the question. Right now, the wounds are still too fresh and LeBron is still playing in the league. But if the worst thing he did was "act like a dick on his way out", then I'm pretty sure it's possible to reconcile. Time heals all wounds.

It's not like it would be the first time a sports franchise has honored a player who fought with management or left on bad terms. Hell, Brad Daugherty all but shunned the Cavs franchise after he retired (I SWEAR this is true but I can't find a link to save my life), but number 43 is hanging from the rafters. Hell, if Dave Winfield can write stuff like this about George Steinbrenner,
then I'm pretty sure Dan Gilbert and LeBron can patch things up. Of course, it would take an actual apology from LeBron but we got time.****

Look, I'm not going to tell anyone not to be mad at LeBron. But when my Twitter timeline (@BenCox83) is routinely full of Cavs fans sending LeBron('s intern that manages his twitter account) these vile, personal life bashing, hate filled tweets. I don't like it. I feel like we're headed someplace wrong. (My favorite type of 'CLE fan to LBJ' tweet? The "Fine, leave asshole, Cleveland is a football town anyways! Fuck you!!" ones. Nice. "Yeah, we only watched the Cavaliers because of... you. Oh." That showed him!)

Like many people, I really enjoyed Will Leitch's take on The Decision (emphasis added):

Loving sports, by definition, requires a certain suspension of disbelief and logic. We are all pouring our hearts and souls into cheering for men (and women) who do not care about us, who are not like us, who are not the type of people we would ever associate with (or even meet) in real life. We deify them because it is hard to find people to deify in the real world: Sports spans every age group, ethnic group, political persuasion, and all else that serves to divide us, separate us. We cheer for athletes because sports does not matter, not really. We cheer because sports is, ultimately, harmless.

And we trust that they will at least pretend. We trust that they will recognize the ultimate ludicrousness of this whole enterprise, that these are grown men wearing tank tops, throwing a ball up and around, running on wood, that this all exists because we allow it to exist, that the illusion must be maintained. We trust that they understand how good they have it, how much we give them, against our own self-interest. We trust that they are not laughing at us.

I get being pissed at LeBron James for how he handled his exit (including the Boston series) and that some of his conduct was shameful. But the dude isn't evil or some sort of diabolical figure.

LeBron is a 25 year old kid who grew up without a father and whose mother was in and out of his life for much of his early years. He was on the cover of Sports Illustrated at the age of 16. He had multinational shoe corporations seeking to give him millions of dollars before he made his first NBA basket. The Cavs catered to his every whim, including hiring friends and family to official and unofficial team positions. Local sportscasters feared to criticize him. He's one of the two best basketball players on the entire planet and has made millions upon millions of dollars playing a game and endorising products. He's being advised by his high school buddies and some shady dude who calls himself World Wide Wes.

And really, we're shocked that this 25 year old child star has a huge ego and handled a major life decision poorly? Seriously? Spoiled child millionaire acts like egotistical fuckstick. No way! I mean, hell, when I was 25 I made some stupid decisions and handled some relationships (both personal and professional) pretty fucking poorly. At the very least, my communication skills left something to be desired (also, turns out Barnes and Noble frowns upon an employee calling his supervisor a "Cave Troll" on this blog. Who knew?). It happens. You grow up.

And in all seriousness, I can't
really begrudge LeBron for heading to Miami. He gets to play with two of his best friends (one of whom just happens to be an MVP candidate) in sunny Florida. Man, that sucks! Do you know how many of my high school friends no longer live in the Cleveland area? And as the piggybacking on Wade, I don't buy that Michael Jordan or Magic Johnson wouldn't have teamed up with another star if presented the opportunity.

And while I love Bryant Gumbel's take on LeBron:
Despite such evidence to the contrary, LeBron James seems to think he needs a ring to change his life and secure his legacy. Maybe he’ll get one, maybe he won’t, but it’s probable that no amount of rings will ever remove the stench he wallowed in last week. LeBron may yet find that in the court of public opinion, just as putting on a tux can’t make a guy a gentleman, winning a ring can’t make one truly a champion.
I also can't blame LeBron for being so ring focussed. That's all you hear about now days; Jordan has six and Kobe has five, which is one more than Shaq (and Barkley, Malone and Ewing have none. HAHAHAHAHAHA). Alex Rodriguez was still on the field wearing his glove when he was asked "A-Rod, does this World Series title validate your career?" Hell, the Plain Dealer even called LeBron out on if when he left. "Seven years, no rings."

The message is pretty clear: championships matter. The end.

Can you blame LeBron for trying to team up with other All-Stars? Is there anyone on the Cavs close to Chris Bosh's talent, let alone Dwyane Wade's? Plus, winning a ring will redeem his exit from Cleveland, at least in the eyes of most people (I mean, look at Ray Lewis and Ron Artest). In sports (and especially in the NBA), rings are the barometer that which the greats are judged. I can totally understand LeBron making the move he did.

When it comes down to it, even though I know LeBron did the Cavs and their fans no favors on his way out, again, the last seven years did not suck. I had fun. I enjoyed myself. I won't be burning any jerseys. Maybe I'm keeping my expectations low, but I liked having the Cavs matter again. Coming back to Gumbel, I know this was meant about LeBron, but I feel it goes for us fans too:
Even though he never won a title, Dan Marino is still the biggest hero in Florida. And in Boston, all those Celtics championships are dimmed by the unforgettable brilliance of Ted Williams, who never won anything. In Chicago, Gale Sayers and Dick Butkus have legendary status despite playing on losing teams. And even in the NBA, where guys seem obsessed with being viewed as ‘the man’, real men like Barkley, Ewing and Baylor are ringless, but revered.
Sports is fun when your team is good. I feel like this pretty is simple. You know when the baseball playoffs are fun and interesting? When the Indians are involved. You know when they're tedious and boring? The rest of the time. And Cleveland winter's suck a lot more when Lamond Murry is the Cavs leading scorer.

Yes, the ultimate goal is to win the title, but only one team can do that each year. But it's not like the fans of every other team wasted their time (or did they?). This city hasn't had won a title since 1964 and LeBron was our best chance in quite some time. It didn't happen.

We. Want. It. So. Bad.

But even though our teams haven't won, I've really enjoyed their attempts. The Manny-Thome Indians were a ton of fun, the Price-Daugherty Cavs were my childhood team and I'd like to think the CC-Victor Indians were pretty well loved. Sure, no titles but a lot of fun, no? Nagy surviving by the skin of his teeth in 97 against Baltimore, Carmona pitching while being surrounded by nats against the Yankees in 2008.... Good times.

I guess I'm just surprised to see LeBron turn into Bill Buckner. One big mistake (how he handled leaving) erases everything else he did (though less than a month has passed, we're still a bit raw). I'm not saying I'll be rooting for him in Miami or that I condone how he handled himself, but him being a douchebag doesn't ruin the rest of his tenure for me.

While the Cavs certainly won't be retiring his number anytime soon, I'll be shocked if #23 isn't hanging from the rafters after LeBron calls it a career.

*I'd say if you asked Cavalier fans the question 'when did LeBron show poor effort?' 90-95% of them would say Game 5. Though I feel some fans would say LeBron showed poor effort constantly, especially in the regular season after a few playoff runs. Now, it's really really hard to point to LeBron's stats from 06-07 (27-6-6) and 07-08 (30-8-7) and claim the guy was loafing (which isn't exactly what I'm saying). But that's because LeBron is so freaking good. The guy can put up 25-6-6 without even trying. Trust me, I've seen him do it.

Throughout LeBron's tenure, I've ragged on about his heat checks, poor shot selection (dagger three!!) and lack of willingness to head to the block quite a bit. All of these problems stem from lack of effort. Have you ever played in a basketball game where
you know you're better than your opponent or you're tired or just simply bored? I have. You know what you do? You settle for jumpers. You stand around. You make a few shots and you think "hey, I'm feeling it, I think I'll hoist another one" (and then you do and piss off all your teammates). Issues like these are what makes LeBron (and Shaq before him) so frustrating. For as good as he was, he could be even better.

LeBron could've created easier shots for himself (and his teammates) by learning some simple post moves, he could've increased his scoring by 2-3 points a game by shooting 80-85% from the line, he could've been an absolute nightmare moving without the ball. Standing around and holding ball for 15 seconds before settling for a long jumper isn't the most efficient way to get your points (and rip Coach Mike's offense all you want, but again, I can't imagine he said, "alright Bron-Bron, do nothing for 10 seconds, take a jab step and chuck it")

**I can't prove it at all, but I've heard this
from a bunch of people

***My personal theory is that LeBron realized (after seeing Mo and Jamison get torched repeatedly) how much work he'd have to do in order to simply get the Cavs out of the second round, gave up. He knew he was leaving and he didn't want to deal with it.

****I really don't think it's out of the question that within the next 20 years we'll have some interview from Bron-Bron where he states he's sorry for the way he left, he was young and immature and he could've handled himself better. Granted, I don't think this interview is gonna happen anytime soon, but I believe it'll happen at some point.

The Cavs did something

Chris Grant, in his first real move of his career, traded Delonte West to Minnesota for Ramon Sessions. Exciting!! Whoooo!!

The Cavs reached a deal with the Minnesota Timberwolves to trade for guard Ramon Sessions. The Cavs will send Delonte West and Sebastian Telfair to Minnesota in exchange for Sessions, center Ryan Hollins and a 2013 second-round draft pick.

The team had been looking for a player like Sessions, even signing restricted free agent guard Kyle Lowry to an offer sheet two weeks ago, and had been actively shopping West. With his contract set to become fully guaranteed by Aug. 5, it was the team's hope to trade West by this week.

I hate seeing Delonte leave (sorta) but this isn't a terrible deal. Actually, it's a fairly decent deal. The Cavs are getting a quick, starting caliber point guard and a dude who's 7 feet (can't teach size!) for basically an expiring contract and garbage (no offense to Bassy Telfair).

I admit, I'm not all that familiar with Ramon Sessions. All that really comes to mind is that, as a rookie, he had some crazy stat lines at the end of the 2007-2008 season (like a 20 point, 24 assist game) and then became one of Minnesota's billion point guards.

Terry Pluto likes the deal and he kinda talks me into it:

Ramon Sessions is exactly the type of player the Cavs should be adding at this stage of their life without LeBron James. That's especially true because the price for Sessions was minimal, in terms of contract ($12 million left over three seasons) and cost in the trade. Delonte West and Sebastian Telfair were shipped to Minnesota, where both are expected to be cut for salary cap purposes.

Meanwhile, Sessions could start, or at least be the Cavaliers' first substitute in the backcourt.

So why is a Minnesota castoff someone the Cavs need?

Because Sessions is the point guard who loves to motor the ball down the court on the fast break. He is very effective in the pick-and-roll, and he has the quickness to drive to the basket.


Sessions has started 47 games in his pro career, averaging 14.7 points, 8.4 assists and 4.3 rebounds while shooting 45 percent in 35 minutes per start. With the Bucks in 2008-09, it was 38 starts, 15.2 points, 7.5 assists, 4.5 rebounds and 45 percent shooting.

When given a chance, he delivers impressive numbers. He is the type of guard that new coach Byron Scott loves, because of his tendency to play in high gear, but not throw the ball all over the gym. He is a terrible 3-point shooter (10-of-56 for his career), but smart enough to know not to shoot often from that range.

The Cavs have a backcourt jammed with guards who love to fire away from long distance -- Anthony Parker, Mo Williams and Gibson. They don't have a pure point guard such as Sessions.

While I see what Pluto is saying (he fits Scott's system, he's young and he's cheap!), I can't get over the fact that the Cavs have reunited the point guards from the 07-08 Milwaukee Bucks. Yay?

Kelly Dwyer sums up the Cavs side of the deal thusly (emphasis added):

And, Cleveland? You're still pretending to use stopgaps?

Unless the Cavs are planning on a massive overhaul soon — trading away big parts like Mo Williams and Antawn Jamison for cap relief, draft picks, young prospects; or any combination of the three — the team is just deluding itself. Which, considering the fact that Dan Gilbert owns it, sounds about right. Preferring to save face and pass on obviously rebuilding after its failure with LeBron James became so, so public.

I'll give them the same optimistic bent I gave the Timberwolves last summer. If they're picking up Sessions as an asset — a good scoring guard who is worth twice what he makes and has a contract that, with a player option after two more seasons, expires soon — then good on them. This is sound value for money, and players.

But if you're going to try and back up Mo Williams with the same version of himself, minus all that accurate shooting? Then you're mistaking yourself for a team that actually matters. And, worse, wasting your fandom's time. Kindly rebuild, soon. They showed up for 2002-03, if you'll recall, so they'll definitely show up now that most of the tickets for 2010-11 have been sold, and now that your team has achieved martyrdom.

I have a hard time disagreeing with that.

I completely understand the not wanting to rebuild. I'd always get so frustrated with people who'd say shit like, "without LeBron, the Cavs would be no better than the Nets/Knicks." I fully believe that the Cavs could've and would've been a playoff team sans LeBron. Would they be a championship contender? Hell, no. But they could've snuck into the playoffs as a 6th-8th seed.

And gotten whooped in the first round. And earned a mediocre draft pick for their troubles. And then repeated the whole thing over again the following season.

How often have the Cleveland Cavaliers been relevant in the NBA? How many eras were they, you know, good? I'd say three times and I'm willing to hear arguments for a fouth. To me, it's safe to say there are three distinct eras of Cavalier success: 1975-1978 (Miracle of Richfield), 1988-1994 (Price-Daugherty) and 2003-2010 (LeBron). Exciting players, big playoff games... fun times.

You know what preceded all of those runs? High draft picks. Like, really really high.

The Cavs drafted guard Austin Carr 1st overall in 1971. In 1986 they took center Brad Daugherty 1st overall (and guard Ron Harper 4th). And, of course, LeBron James was chosen 1st overall in 2003. Three eras of basketball greatness (or basketball very-goodness) all brought about by the first overall pick.

I don't think that's a coincidence.

Look, this deal isn't terrible. Both Pluto and Dwyer say Sessions is an asset. That's good. But to what end? I don't need to spend next season watching the point guard rotation for the 2007 Milwaukee Bucks. We know how that turns out (26 wins, 56 losses).

Don't get me wrong, I'd enjoy watching a scrappy, fast paced Cavalier team try to make the playoffs (you think Gilbert doesn't want to face Miami in the first round?). That's not a terrible way to spend next season. But I worry that, at the end of the day, going that route is simply a year wasted before their actual serious rebuild. 44 wins won't get them anywhere.

(And as much as I'd love to see the spectacle of a home playoff crowd for Game 3 of Heat-Cavs, I'm not sure I want to witness (har!) an angry LeBron dropping a 50-18-13 in a rage induced beat down while talking heads scold us classless Cleveland fans for our uncouth t-shirts, signs, chanting and battery throwing).

Basically, I'm reserving judgment on this deal until I see what else the Cavs have in store. I don't hate it. Sessions is a nice, cheap player. They got him (and a 7 footer) for practically nothing. But I want to know what the Cavs are going to be doing with Mo Williams Daniel Gibson and Ramon Sessions all on the roster. What's the plan? What's the end game? Best case scenario?

(Also, I'll miss you, Delonte. You rapped about hot sauce, you got arrested while riding a three wheeled motorcycle (with three guns, including one in a guitar case), you taught me about the Golden Panther, you occasionally did shit like this and this, you made sure J.J. got your donuts (and I purchased a shirt for the occasion) and you may have derailed a title run by banging LeBron's mom. It's been fun. You were definitely one of my favorite Cavaliers of the LeBron Era. Best of luck).

Saturday, July 24, 2010


Bill Livingston is a cranky old man:
Before the Cavaliers retire LeBron James' number 23, they will win that championship owner Dan Gilbert promised would arrive before James' first one in Miami.

The number 23 will never hang in the rafters on Gilbert's watch. It is entirely appropriate that it never hangs there at all.


I believe we will want to remember the six good players (Austin Carr, Bingo Smith, Nate Thurmond, Mark Price, Brad Daugherty, Larry Nance) whose numbers hang in the rafters, not the indisputably great player who left in a manner designed to inflict the most emotional pain on the fans and do the most harm to the franchise.

James simply does not belong with men who took pride in the jersey and played to honor the city and its fans.
Um, the guy is the Cavs all-time leading scorer and won two MVPs in a Cavalier uniform. Yea, he's a total dick. I get that. And I get that we're all pissed at him for how he left the team. (Basically, it's the 'Pete Rose was an asshole, but he was really good at baseball' Hall of Fame argument).

But again, the last seven years didn't suck. You can't tell me those years weren't fun. Yes, the way LeBron left was terribly shortsighted and narcissistic but it doesn't invalidate all the things he did on the court.

The Cavs have retired Nate Thurmond's number and Nate the Great played a grand total of 114 games in Cleveland. 114! If Nate's number is retired, I don't care if LeBron decapitated Moondog and wiped his ass with a Mark Price jersey on his way out, his number deserves to be retired.

(However, before LeBron gets his number retired, World B. Free needs his jersey in the rafters. Should've happened years ago).

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Cavs did something, but not that

The Cavs may have missed out on Matt Barnes...
NBA free agent and Del Campo High graduate Matt Barnes has agreed to a two-year deal to join the Los Angeles Lakers next season, Barnes said Thursday.

Barnes made the announcement Thursday night to fans attending the Sacramento Tweetup event in Sacramento.On his Twitter feed, Barnes tweeted, "Its official I AM A LOS ANGLES LAKER. I wanna thank u for all ur patients and understanding. This is a dream come true!!!"

The agreement is a reported two-year contract worth $3.6 million, according to Yahoo! Sports.
The Cavs reached an agreement in principle with rookie free-agent power forwardSamardo Samuels on a multiyear contract, agent David Baumanconfirmed to The Plain Dealer.

Samuels (6-8, 240) is a low-post player expected to play power forward and center. The deal is believed to have a partial guarantee for the first season, which makes it likely Samuels will make the team. He was impressive during the Vegas Summer League with the Chicago Bulls, averaging 12.6 points and 7.4 rebounds. His biggest statement came when he scored 17 points with seven rebounds and outplayed Sacramento Kings draft picks DeMarcus Cousins and Hassan Whitesidein a game last week.

A high-profile recruit when arrived at the University of Louisville, Samuels averaged 15.3 points and seven rebounds as a sophomore last season before declaring for the draft.
I'm okay with both of these developments. I admit, I have no idea who Samuels is, but it sounds like he's got some skills (I do love me some low post) and it's good to hear that he was a "high-profile recruit" and that he'd be entering his junior year (so he's got time to improve).

As for Barnes, he'd be a nice player to have, but I wouldn't want the Cavs to overpay to get him. Cap space isn't the end-all, be-all for the Cavaliers (I mean, they're still located in Cleveland afterall) but the last thing they need to do is to tie up a bunch of money in overpriced, aging (Barnes is 30) role players.

Back to Samuels. This is the type of player the Cavs are going to have to target for a bit. Low risk, high(-ish) reward, overlooked, young players. The Cavs need to stick a couple of these low draft picks and undrafted signings and maybe take a flyer on a guy like Adam Morrison. I know he's a joke, but your hope is that guys like Morrison have learned from their mistakes in their first few stops and now know what it takes to succeed in the NBA (like what happened with Chauncey Billups and Ben Wallace).

The Cavs are kind of in no-mans land right now. They have enough good players that they aren't going to completely suck but they certainly won't be contending for a title in the coming season. LeBron kinda screwed up their offseason (ya think!?) and they've been pretty quiet but I wonder how active they'll be at the trading deadline. Maybe they'll be like the Tribe and end up shipping veteran guys like Mo Williams, Antawn Jamison and Shaq (provided they resign him, which isn't out of the question) to contenders in late February and start hoarding draft picks and young talent.

Wait, did I just compare the Cavs to the Indians? Fuck.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

News that would've excited me three weeks ago

Chris Paul has demanded a trade:
When Paul was quoted a few weeks ago as saying he'd be open to a trade if the Hornets aren't committed to building a championship team, it was only a small hint as to the size of the chasm that exists between the franchise and its cornerstone player. Paul, in fact, has put into motion an aggressive exit strategy that will accelerate in the coming weeks, and his clear intention is to be traded before the start of the 2010-11 season, a person with direct knowledge of his plans told Wednesday.

"He wants out," said the person, who has been briefed on Paul's strategy but spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss it publicly. "He wants to play with another superstar. He wants to follow LeBron's model of teaming up with other great players."

Paul's list of preferred destinations consists of the Knicks, Magic and Lakers, and members of his inner circle already have sent word to the Hornets of his desire to be traded to one of those teams, sources say. If Paul has his way, he's played his last game in a Hornets jersey.

There's been some talk on twitter that the Cavs should go after Paul. I mean, I'd love watching the guy but A) I don't see how it's possible and B) I'm not sure he'd be any happier in Cleveland than he is in New Orleans.

I find it humorous that Paul's trade demand comes after he joined LeBron's marketing group, LRMR. Did he watch The Decision and think "I want to get in on THAT!"? This trade demand will do wonders for his reputation. (And funny how this comes out AFTER LeBron bolts for Miami's beaches. No chance he'll end up in Cleveland).

I don't have a dog in this race, but I'd rather Paul end up in Orlando rather than New York or Los Angeles. I'd pretty much cry if he ended up with Kobe and the Lakers. The Knicks would be kinda neat, seeing Paul run D'Antoni's 'seven seconds or less' system, but I don't know how good they'd actually be.

But Orlando... Chris Paul teaming up with Dwight Howard would definitely make the basketball dork inside me quite happy. Teamed with Paul, Howard would end up shooting like 80% from the field while getting roughly 85 dunks a game... Paul made Tyson Chandler look good... with Howard?? Yikes. Pick and roll of doom.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Cavs have almost done something

But there's a good chance it won't happen (but it might!!):
Forward Matt Barnes intended to turn down a multi-year offer from the Cavs on Monday and agreed in principle to a deal with the Toronto Raptors, sources said. ESPN reported the deal was worth two years and $10 million. According to a league source, the Raptors' offer was significantly higher than what the Cavs offered.

However, the deal would require a sign-and-trade with Barnes' old team, the Orlando Magic. The mechanics of that deal weren't finished Monday night. There is a possibility it could fall through and Barnes could reconsider the Cavs' offer.
Awesome! The Cavs are in the hunt for Matt Barnes! But probably won't get him. This is after they lost out on Brad Miller because they didn't want to give him $15 million over three years and had the Rockets match Kyle Lowry's contract offer.

I dunno, I'm both annoyed that the Cavs are pursuing these decidedly mediocre players (though Barnes would be nice for a running team) and frustrated that they keep losing out on these same mediocre players.

However, I'm glad Chris Grant is following in Danny Ferry's footsteps in some aspects, as Windhorst explains:
The major reason the Cavs aren't able to complete deals at the moment is they are unwilling to outbid other teams. After losing LeBron James, the team likely will have to pay a premium to get mid-level free agents such as Miller and Barnes.
Good. The only thing worse than signing Brad Miller or Matt Barnes is paying for the privilege. The last thing the Cavs want to do is be an expensive, mediocre team. If they want to rebuild, go right ahead. If they want to field a scrappy team and attempt to make the playoffs (to face the Heat....), by all means, go that route. But if you're going for that scrappy team, you can't be giving large contracts to over-the-hill centers or role player swingmen.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

James was never signing here

At least, that's what Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski says (and I believe him):

Within an hour of the Cavaliers’ season ending in Boston, James’ inner circle, including power broker William Wesley, agent Leon Rose and business manager Maverick Carter, stood outside the visiting locker room grumbling about coach Mike Brown.

James had wanted Brown gone a year earlier after the Cavs lost in the Eastern Conference finals to the Orlando Magic – despite Brown guiding Cleveland to 66 victories while winning the league’s Coach of the Year award. Ferry debated Gilbert to keep Brown. He won out, but Ferry knew it would be tough to make that case again in 2010. Every decision the Cavaliers made had to be run past James. He didn’t always get to decide, but he had to be consulted.

This time, Gilbert believed he had to fire Brown to have a chance of re-signing James. When he was fired, Brown purposely left his star’s name out of a public statement of thanks. He knew James had led the movement for his dismissal for more than two years and Brown no longer needed to pretend that he liked, or respected James.

Ferry warned the owner there wouldn’t be a better coach available to hire. Eventually, Gilbert pushed out Ferry, too. The owner wanted to take over a bigger portion of the basketball decision-making and Ferry’s stubbornness made that difficult for him.

The franchise was in complete upheaval, and Gilbert had the Cavaliers trying everything possible to impress a non-responsive James. The Cavaliers star had started to fully distance himself from the organization. He refused to get on the phone and discuss his future with Michigan State’s Tom Izzo, whom Gilbert had offered $30 million to take over as coach.

Before the Cavaliers ever reached out to him, Izzo turned down a less lucrative offer to coach the Chicago Bulls. James wasn’t returning Gilbert’s calls and messages – never mind willing to talk with Izzo. Before Izzo finally turned down Gilbert, he was delivered a direct line to two of James’ close NBA friends, who told him he should only take the job with an expectation he’ll never coach James in Cleveland. Gilbert tried to sell Izzo, but the coach feared there wasn’t a single influential official in the Cavs organization who truly had a relationship with James.

Wow. I highly suggest you read the whole thing.

There's a lot of good tidbits, including:

* James was nearly left off the 2008 Olympic Team due to his immaturity

* Mike Brown didn't really care for LeBron

* Gilbert wanted to fire Brown after the Orlando series

* The Cavs kept film sessions short because James would fall asleep or get bored

* Pat Riley doesn't want to coach again (doesn't like the grind)

* Tom Izzo was told that he wouldn't coach LeBron in Cleveland

* LeBron was irked that Derek Rose never reached out to him to play in Chicago

and much much more.

I have to say, I've hated on Wojnarowski in the past, but he's done excellent work throughout this entire free agent period.

If it's any consolation to Cleveland fans, James comes of like a complete ass throughout this process. The TV show, the lying (Cavs have the edge!!), the drama... he looks like a spoiled, petulant child.

A spoiled, petulant child who happens to be the two-time MVP....

While I'm still pretty pissed at LeBron for how he handled this crap, I can't deny that I'm intrigued to see how the Heat mesh and gel next year. The basketball dork in me is fascinated by the team that Miami is putting together.

Also, you won't see me giving away or burning any of my LeBron gear. Despite all the time Iput in watching the guy, this was never personal for me. The dude is an ass and I wish he stayed here, but the last 7 years didn't suck. The Cleveland freaking Cavaliers mattered. They were on national television a billion times a year. It. Was. Fun.

And yes, they didn't win a championship. The Cavs didn't get to the promise land. But neither did Kosar or Newsome or Lofton or Thome or Manny or Price or Daugherty or Sabathia or Victor and we still love those guys, right? Only one team can win every year but it doesn't mean if you fall short it was a waste.

To me, that's LeBron's biggest mistake, he could've still left and still been loved (sorta) but his decision to air The Decision will cost him big time in his home state:

Back in Akron, James still wanted to go through his live hourlong television show on July 8 to announce his decision. This had been Maverick Carter’s big idea, his production, and still people around him worried about the fallout in Cleveland. Several friends told James this was a bad idea to do to his hometown, that leaving the Cavaliers live on national television would make this a public-relations disaster for him.

James didn’t seem to agree, didn’t think it made a difference. Mad was mad, he thought. He would take a beating, but it would subside and people would love him again in Cleveland. The TV event had delivered hope to the Cavaliers that they would keep James because they never believed he would go on air and open himself to such a visceral reaction.

He strung the Cavaliers along until the very end.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Cavs Nearly Did Something

Chris Grant hasn't been sitting on his hands! The Cavs inked Houston Rockets backup point guard Kyle Lowry to an offer sheet (4 years, $24 million) but the Rockets matched roughly 12 hours later. So.... great.

It seems like the Cavs assumed that would happen and they're already moving on:
It was not a surprise to the Cavs, who had attempted to work a sign-and-trade deal with the Rockets prior to having Lowry sign the offer sheet. The Rockets refused, confident they'd match the offer, which they did.

So the Cavs went to the next course of action, league sources said, and began stepping up their efforts to trade for a guard with the same traits as Lowry. It is possible the team could make such a move by the end of the week.


So while the Cavs have a quality point guard in Mo Williams, they obviously intend to acquire another one. Two players believed to be on the radar are former Ohio State star Mike Conley and Minnesota Timberwolves guard Ramon Sessions.
I'm not really high on either of these guys, but if I had my pick, I'd go with Conley (and not just because he's from Ohio State). Conley is young, has a shorter contract (has a qualifying offer for 11/12) and is coming off his best season as a pro. Sessions is older (though only 24), can't get off the bench in Minnesota and is owed nearly $13 million over the next three seasons.

The Cavs are looking into a possible sign and trade for Shaq either to the Knicks or possibly the Hawks:
The latest rumored landing spot for Shaquille O’Neal is Atlanta, as the Cavaliers reportedly have talked about doing a sign-and-trade with the Hawks to acquire swingman Marvin Williams.
I'm not really all that thrilled about Marvin Williams. Yes, he's young (only 24) but his points per game declined the past two seasons and his rebounding numbers dropped last year too (to be fair, he averaged just 30 minutes last season, lowest since his rookie year). Most disturbing, he's owed $30 million over the next four seasons.

Now, maybe you think that the former #2 pick could thrive in new coach Byron Scott's up-tempo system. Maybe. But it's not like the Hawks were a slow paced team (though they did go through a lot of isolations). I'm not totally against the idea of taking a flyer on Williams, but only if the Cavs are trading someone like Mo Williams rather than Shaq. By trading Mo for Marvin, Cleveland would be giving up salary for salary, instead of trading a free agent for a guy with four years left.

Although, do you know who would look good in Coach Scott's running system? 2009 first round pick Christian Eyenga. Windy had a nice bit about him at Summer League and the dude can jump, I'll tell ya what:

So the Cavs are making some small waves in free agency and they're adjusting to the new offense in summer league (and J.J. Hickson is dominating the young guys).

The post-LeBron era (or the post-Z era!) has officially begun.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Z signs with Miami

Zydrunas Ilgauskas is no longer a Cavalier, for real this time:
Saying he's chasing a dream to win an NBA title, Zydrunas Ilgauskas is leaving the Cavaliers after 14 seasons to join LeBron James and the Miami Heat.

The Cavs had a contract offer on the table and told Ilgauskas he was always welcome with the organization, but with the team in rebuilding mode, Ilgauskas chose to accept a two-year, $2.8 million offer in Miami. The second year will likely be a player option.

"It was a tough decision for me; very emotional," Ilgauskas told The Plain Dealer. "I spent 14 years of my life here. I came in as a young boy and grew up to be a man. Cleveland had a lot to do with that."

The Heat, who had no centers under contract, began recruiting Ilgauskas after James signed last week. James was part of the recruitment effort.

"Obviously (LeBron) related how much he'd like for me to join him," Ilgauskas said. "I looked at all my options. When I stepped away from all the hoopla that surrounded free agency, from a basketball standpoint, for me personally, it was the best decision I could have made."

Couple things...

Obviously, I'm gonna miss Big Z but it's not exactly a big blow at this point. Without LeBron, the Cavaliers should be entering a rebuilding period (Dan Gilbert's ill advised promise to win before LeBron not withstanding) and rebuilding teams don't need old centers. Z barely got any minutes in the playoffs anyways (a combination of his diminishing skills and Mike Brown's stubborn refused to see that Shaq sucked) and I don't mind the big fella chasing a ring, especially at his age.

Though I will say, Z's move to Florida has me quite conflicted. When LeBron took his talents to South Beach, it was a fairly easy decision not to root for the Heat. But now with Z in the fold, I can't simply root for Miami to lose, I've now got to root for LeBron get injured (nothing serious like an ACL tear or anything, but maybe his... elbow? Heh) and THEN hope for the Heat to win the championship without James. Much more complicated. (I'm just kidding, by the way. I never root for injuries. Except when the Steelers face the Ravens. Then I hope Ray Lewis sacks Big Ben, somehow snapping both their necks in the process. I keeed!).

Also, of course LeBron helped recruit Big Z to Miami. LeBron also met Derek Fisher at the airport for Fisher's free agent visit. Brian Windhorst tweets:
Western Conference executive: "LeBron has done more recruiting in the last five days than he did in the last 3 years."
Sounds about right. Remember, LeBron never even spoke with Tom freaking Izzo when Izzo was considering the Cavaliers job (but Bron-Bron was still undecided at the time...). When Cavs fans say that LeBron quit or his heart wasn't in it, this is the kind of crap we're talking about (also, Round 2 vs Boston).

Finally, Henry Abbot of TrueHoop tweets:
I'm waiting for someone to tell me that joining the Heat revealed some flaw in Zydrunas Ilgauskas' character.
HAR! I knew someone was going to make a snarky comparison between LeBron's and Z's respective departures and the fan/media reaction. I know Henry is trying to be funny here but man, if someone can't understand why Cleveland fans would have different reactions to LeBron and Z bolting for Miami, I'm not sure I want to waste my time explaining the difference. (As for an answer to Henry's question, Z is a roll player, not the 2-time MVP. Though, speaking only for myself, the only thing about LeBron's move to Miami was the way he handled it publically).

Hell, I'm just waiting for someone to say that Cleveland fans are racist. I mean, we freaked out when LeBron, a black player, left but we're all hugs-and-kisses for Z, who is, obviously, Lithuanian.

But in all seriousness, this really feels like the end of an era. Z's been a Cavalier seemingly forever and the squad during his rookie year is one of my all-time favorite teams. That 97-98 Cavs team (coached by Mike Fratello!) started four rookies (Z, Brevin Knight, Derek Anderson and Cedric Henderson) and a not-quite-out-of-shape Shawn Kemp. They ended up bowing out in the first round to the Pacers and the future looked bright right up until Z's feet broke and Kemp used the lockout to sample all of Baskin Robbins' 31 flavors.

Even with all of LeBron's antics, having Z on the Heat roster would make a potential Miami championship just a teensy, tiny bit easier to stomach. Still, seeing Z get to the promise land in a different uniform will be bittersweet to say the least.

I wish him all the luck in the world.

Monday, July 12, 2010

More LeBron Fallout

In a surprise to absolutely no one, Dan Gilbert was fined by David Stern for his and subsequent interviews:
Shortly after James' announcement, Gilbert fired off an incendiary letter to Cavs fans, vilifying the 25-year-old and calling his decision to bolt Cleveland as "narcissistic" and "cowardly behavior." He also guaranteed his team would win an NBA title "BEFORE THE SELF-TITLED FORMER 'KING' WINS ONE."

Gilbert took it a step further when he later told The Associated Press in a phone interview that he felt the NBA's two-time MVP quit on the Cavs during the playoffs the past two years, and that James "has gotten a free pass." He also said James should be held accountable for his actions.


Gilbert is attending the owners' meetings in Las Vegas, where NBA commissioner David Stern said Monday he was fining the Cavaliers $100,000 for the comments.

"He was completely correct in expressing his disappointment," Stern said, adding that Gilbert's statement and the sentiments he expressed in a follow-up interview with the AP were "a little bit extreme."

Only $100,000? That's not really a whole lot to an owner of an NBA franchise. I'm still shocked that Stern hasn't made him take that letter down. It's still up on for anyone to read.

Stern also said that he didn't care for LeBron's special (which ESPN innocently points out just happened garner 10 million viewers) and that LeBron should've informed the Cavs before the TV show (no shit!). Craig at WFNY has a nice post on what LeBron should've done. Me gusta.

As far as Jesse Jackson's Dan Gilbert/Slavery comments... both Stern and Gilbert dismiss them (and disagree, obviously) and I really like Jason Whitlock's take:
It’s stupid. Dan Gilbert’s rant was certainly immature, but it wasn’t remotely racist. He sounded like a scorned lover, a guy who gave his heart to a relationship and found out on national TV that the alleged love of his life didn’t care about him at all.

BTW ^this post^ was, um, posted today over at Upon Further Review Sports today, albeit linkless, as rebuttal to this. Check it out.

Speaking of other sites where my crappy writing appears, has now (for some weird reason...) been renamed (rolls off the tongue, no?).

and finally, you know wanted to read Matt Taibbi's thoughts on The Decision. Of course you do.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Random LeBron Thoughts

First off, Dan Gilbert.... the letter. I gotta say, when I first read it, I loved it (as did Joe Tait). As a Cleveland fan, reading Gilbert's letter that night was extremely cathartic. It was refreshing to see someone put words to how we all felt and it was nice to see someone step up for the Cleveland fans. And it was definitely cool to see someone release something to the public that wasn't chock full of platitudes and bullshit jargon. That's definitely how Dan Gilbert felt, no question about it. But he came off as a jilted boyfriend and if he would've waited a few hours (or days) I'm pretty sure he would've written something different.

Also, I'm SHOCKED that David Stern let that thing stay up. That's gotta say something... but I'm not quite sure what.

That being said, Dan Gilbert absolutely has the right to be pissed at Bron-Bron. There is absolutely no reason why Gilbert needed to learn of LeBron's decision at the same time your or I did. This is an owner who, by all accounts, peddled to LeBron's every whim. He hired James's friends, he allowed the pregame rituals and he basically let LeBron do whatever he wanted. That LeBron ignored his calls and texts that night is absolutely shameful. I don't fault Gilbert at all for being angry. Though as Terry Pluto says, he might want to walk back some of that stuff. "When your heart is broken, your head doesn't work"

And to all those people ragging on Gilbert and Cleveland fans saying, "if LeBron is such a bad person, why did you want to resign him/cheer for him all these years??" BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT SPORTS IS. You root for the guys on your team until they're no longer on your team. San Francisco Giants fans defend Barry Bonds. Steelers fans root for Ben Rapistberger. I rooted for that dick head Albert Belle (who did NOT take steroids!). That's just how these things work. You love your guys til they're no longer your guys.

Speaking of pissed off fans... stop it with this shit. There's no need to be bringing LeBron's mother into this. It's immature, childish and in unbelievably poor taste. There's enough reasons to hate on the guy that we don't have to call out his mom.

Same this all of LeBron Fatheads being slashed to $17.41 (the birth year of Benedict Arnold). Yes, it's Dan Gilbert's company and he can do what he wants, but it's fucking petty. Lord knows that Gilbert has as much reason to be pissed as anyone, but it's childish.

Look, LeBron isn't a traitor and even if you think he is, it doesn't excuse a lot of the 'jokes' I see going around twitter about his mom or his GF (and about how he's probably cheating on her in Miami). While I didn't want him to leave (um, hello? he's the 2-time MVP!!), it's his choice and one could argue that he chose the better position.

But the way he left was a major punk move. I can't deny that. He didn't talk to Tom Izzo. He wouldn't take the calls of Bernie Kosar, let alone the fucking owner of the Cavaliers (but hey, he'll help recruit Derek Fisher to the Heat). He strung Cavs fans along and then took a dump on them on national television, acting like we should've been grateful for all those years (even though he committed 5 year to the Heat, more than he ever gave the Cavs to build).

Ignoring the Cavs and the city before bolting is classless. He had to have known what his departure would do and he could've and should've handled it better. He could'be taken out a full page ad, thanking the fans (like C.C. Sabathia did). Hell, LeBron wouldn't have even needed to write the thank-you letter, just paying for it would've been enough. He could've, oh I dunno, signaled his intentions to the Cavaliers front office and allow them to move forward with their offseason plans. Going out the way he did the Cavs no favors and he burned any bridges he had left (and Dan Gilbert came in and pissed on the remnants).

I dunno, there's enough legitimate reasons to be angry at LBJ that I don't think we need to be cracking mama jokes (though, I will say this is funny), ragging on him for not marrying his girl and sending him hate mail via twitter (though I have heard that he's a terrible tipper... so... ya! EVIL).

As for the Cavs, I'm glad that they didn't let emotions get in the way and actually completed a sign-and-trade with the Heat. I'll take four picks and a trade exception (two firsts and two seconds). It's better than nothing. (Although, it means that LeBron isn't taking less money to join the Heat).

In my opinion, the Cavs need to rebuild. Tear down and start again. Now, I definitely wouldn't mind watching a plucky Cavs team get to the playoffs and try to get home court, but they aren't going to do any damage once they get there. There's a rumors floating around about a Shaq+Mo for Marvin Williams + Josh Childress deal and I really don't like it. Marvin Williams is a b-u-s-t and he's owed roughly $30 million over the next four years (salary from Sham Sports). The last thing the Cavs need to be doing is taking on more longterm salary.

The Cavs need to stockpile as many young players and draft picks as they possibly can and start fresh. I don't know how the fans are going to react after LeBron's departure, but I think there's been enough new fans that Gilbert and co should get some leeway in rebuilding the franchise.

But maybe not. Maybe the Cavs will sink back into irrelevance as the Browns scratch and claw their way to another sub .500 season (Delhomme to Engram baby!! Whoo!!!). I dunno.

But I do know this: life goes on. It's just sports. They're supposed to be a diversion from Real Life. It's supposed to be fun. As Terry Pluto always says, "Don't let millionaire athletes ruin your day".

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.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

The Last Day

I've read roughly 2,000 LeBron stories over the past 24 hours. Here's a few to read while you're waiting for LeBron's Special (sneak peek!)

Jon Krolik, of Cavs: The Blog has an excellent piece:
We are not LeBron James, and LeBron James is not us. On the court and off of it, LeBron has only allowed himself to appear tangentially human. On the floor, LeBron is the most blessed player the game has ever seen. Nobody has ever had his combination of size, speed, and explosiveness. He can see plays in a split second that most people couldn’t dream up given all the time in the world. He’s more skilled with his off hand than most forwards are with their dominant one. He can hit insane shots from anywhere on the court, and often makes them simply to prove he can.

He also refuses to make the concessions to fundamental basketball that so many people have demanded him to make. His shot selection is often baffling. He refuses to put himself in the post and use his combination of size and strength to dominate with a minimum of effort. He’s never developed a solid mid-range game, and he’s not even a lights-out free throw shooter. Sometimes, it’s like being the best isn’t good enough for LeBron; he needs to be the best while proving that his own way of doing things works better than all the ones that existed before it.

Off the court, LeBron is even less accessible than he is on it. He wants to be the richest athlete of all time, yet he surrounds himself with his high school buddies. He’s constantly cracking jokes and playing the buddy-buddy role with his teammates, but he keeps the general populous at arm’s length with a bizarre gumbo of warmed-over team-first mantras and a healthy dose of self aggrandizing-behavior. He wants to be Warren Buffet, but he wants to be a big kid as well. He wants to be One of The Guys, but he wants to hand-pick who gets to be One of The Guys.

He has refused all archetypes. He is not the intense workaholic whose desire to win dominates all other aspects of his personality. He is not the happy-go-lucky kid who just wants to play the game and have fun. He is not the suave businessman who controls everything in front of him. In trying to be all of those things, he has become none of them. He has become larger than life, but not in the way he wants to be. He is Alice after eating the cake, too big to fit through the door to the garden and too far down the rabbit hole to come back. And he might not even care.

Tonight, the eve of what was supposed to become LeBron’s big day, is instead the nadir of his career. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction, and all the hype and adoration that LeBron James inspired has come crashing down upon his ringless self. He is a King without a crown, and now he is being criticized for daring to take the throne. All LeBron did was play basketball very well and lap up every bit of praise lavished upon him for doing so. Whatever LeBron is other than a basketball player, we made him into. Now we have taken it upon us to punish LeBron for his hubris, and ourselves for trusting it. What the gods wish to destroy, they must first label as promising.

(I highly suggest reading the whole thing).

Surely LeBron James has an exit strategy.

Surely this is all going to play out like a season-ending episode of Entourage, with Vince Chase escaping ruin thanks to the behind-the-scenes maneuvering of Ari and E and Vince's good fortune.

There's no way Johnny Drama and Turtle are running King James' kingdom. No way.

Thursday night, LeBron will appear on ESPN and announce he's re-signing with the Cavs, who stole Chris Paul via David Stern's for-the-good-of-the-league ruling. You know it's the same ruling that delivered Pau Gasol to the Los Angeles Lakers and Kobe Bryant.

That's how this has to play. LeBron and Paul will be on TV Thursday night, agreeing to join forces and knock off Boston's Big Three, Kobe and Pau and Wade and Bosh. That's why Paul talked LeBron into joining Twitter. They're best friends. Paul is going to save the King.

LeBron James is not stupid.

He's not going to appear on an hour-long TV special to take a dump on Cleveland by revealing he's the black Art Modell. That can't be his end-game strategy, a teary and televised middle-finger farewell to his hometown.

And he can't be so delusional that he thinks sitting down with Stu Scott to tell the world he's staying in Cleveland will go unpunished by media and fans in New York, New Jersey, Miami and Chicago.

God, I'd hope so. I've seen some Chris Paul rumors elsewhere and ESPN 850 was saying that Dan Gilbert and co were working on a major trade.

John Hollinger, Daily Dime:
That earthquake you just felt was the balance of power shifting south in the Eastern Conference. If reports are true that LeBron James will announce he's signing with the Miami Heat at his made-for-TV extravaganza on Thursday night, we can immediately elevate the Heat into the ranks of the contenders and demote the Cavaliers to the also-ran scrap heap.

Forget about the black-and-blue battles between Cleveland and Boston; in 2011, the Eastern Conference finals are looking a lot more like the Florida state championship. That will be particularly true if Orlando's Dwight Howard gets his wish and the Magic are able to add New Orleans point guard Chris Paul later this summer; the one piece of fortunate news for Hornets fans on that front is the higher-than-expected salary cap number also diminished the Hornets' luxury tax concerns.

Ugh. I really hope these Miami reports aren't true. I can't imagine that LeBron A) would give NE Ohio the middle finger on national TV and B) sign with the Heat with his own ESPN Special while Bosh and Wade signed together on Wednesday. That comes of soooo poorly.

Drew Magary of Deadspin, LeBron James is a Cocksucker:
Tomorrow is the day LeBron James becomes the most unlikable person in the NBA, and perhaps all of American sports. I used to think he was okay a year ago. No more. He's the villain now.

It doesn't matter where he opts to go. If he goes to Chicago, he's a cocksucker. If he goes to Miami, he's a goddamn cocksucker. Even if he goes back to Cleveland, he's a goddamn cocksucker. He's a self-aggrandizing sack of shit, and ESPN is a bunch of pussy-whipped enablers for giving him a free hour of airtime tomorrow night and inevitably using 55 minutes of it to let Stu Scott give him a rimjob.

Look at what Kevin Durant did today. He signed an extension well before he could have filed for free agency, announced the signing, and then went back about his business. He didn't need all this dog-and-pony show bullshit. James does, and that means he's a dipshit. People have been kissing this man's ass SINCE FUCKING MIDDLE SCHOOL, and he still needs this hourlong AFI tribute special? Bullshit. BULLSHIT.

And I don't care that he asked ESPN to use the commercial airtime tomorrow night to go to charity. That's the most transparent use of charity for the sake of self-glorification I've seen since I saw some actor do it yesterday. "Hey ESPN, why don't you spend an hour kissing my ass? Oh, don't worry. We'll give the money to AIDS babies. That totally makes me selfless." No, it doesn't.

Heh. Let's move on.

Privately, Dwyane Wade(notes) andChris Bosh(notes) weren’t pleased on Wednesday morning with the belief that James’ camp was responsible for leaking their plans to a television partner, but then again it makes perfect sense: This isn’t about Wade and Bosh choosing the Heat. It’s about LeBron getting the stage to himself on Thursday night.

One front-office executive whose team made a presentation to LeBron James told Yahoo! Sports that he believes James is choosing between Miami and Cleveland. And yet, if James wants to deliver the biggest kick in the gut to his hometown, he’ll pick the flat-linedNew York Knicks. Whatever the decision, he’s made clear that the teasing and tormenting of the loser isn’t his concern.

Team LeBron is having the time of its life, but has no idea the repercussions of what it’s done here. All that comes to James now is the biggest burden to win a championship that sports has ever seen. They aren’t making James a bigger star with this big-top, but a bigger target. All those teams that marched into the presentations and listened to some of the foolish and naive questions asked of them believed these kids had no idea what they were doing, or what they had gotten themselves into. They’re all feeling more validated every day. From beginning to end, this process has been a farce.
I'm am shocked (shocked I say!) that Adrian Wojnarowski doesn't care for LeBron's free agency process.

And most strange in all of this? There have been no leaks that put him back in Cleveland. Not the location of the announcement . Not the movement of his tax documents . And not the prospect of the super team. It's all leaning away from Cleveland.


Why in a time when there is abject speculation from every angle and degree, where every person with an agenda for James going to his or her city, is there no significant word about Cleveland?

And again, the reporter who's followed his entire career, who's been a step away from him from the time he hit high school, that guy isn't hearing anything ? A guy who's as widely respected in NBA media circles as anyone and who has had the, er... mouth of LeBron James (since if he had his ear LeBron would be listening to him, and that's not really, you know, let's just move on), that guy has heard nothing. Zilch. Zero. Nada.

Something's up.
I've noticed this too.

While he can pledge his loyalty to his hometown of Akron and insist he'll always help the place where he grew up, signing elsewhere will be viewed as a rejection by the fans in Northeast Ohio.

Nothing will compare with Art Modell moving the Browns to Baltimore in terms of sheer sports betrayal.But James leaving at this point in his career would be No. 2 on the Cleveland broken hearts list.

This is not like the Indians players who left or forced trades because ownership here could not pay them what they could make elsewhere. NBA rules dictate that the Cavs can give him an extra year on his contract and at least $30 million in his pocket. It seems the Cavs have done everything reasonably possible to build a winner around him.

The recent assumption is James will join Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami. That still seems doubtful because of the Heat not having the salary cap room to pay all three players the maximum. Also, who controls the ball -- Wade or James? Both have very similar styles of play.

The other hot team for James is supposed to be the Knicks, because New York recently signed Amare Stoudemire. One NBA executive (not with the Cavs) told me, "LeBron should be smarter than that. The Knicks are a team of smoke and mirrors with poor ownership and a style of play that doesn't win in the playoffs. The Nets have a better basketball situation than the Knicks."

Chicago makes the most sense for James, in terms of talent. He'd play with Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah and Luol Deng. The Bulls do have a rookie coach in Tom Thibodeau and a history of splits between the coaches and the front office.

James knows the Cavs better than any other team. Over and over, the case has been made for him to stay home. If James actually stays, if he appears on national television and announces that he's picking Cleveland and Northeast Ohio over Miami, New York, Chicago and anywhere else -- it truly will cement his legacy as a local legend.

Is that a reality, or fantasy? Only James knows, but what he decides will say a lot about his priorities, and the future of the Cavs.
Right now, everything seems to be pointing to Miami (but early last night it was all New York). For what it's worth, Brian Windhorst hasn't been able to confirm the reports.

I just can't imagine LeBron going to Dwyane Wade's team. He'll be Pippen to Wade's Jordan. And hey, that's fine. But playing in Miami is going to require sacrifices on the court, not just in the pocket book.

But I don't know what to think. I'm trying to tell myself that LeBron and his boys are spreading rumors everywhere just to push the hype for tonight's special. Do I believe that? Maybe.

This whole thing sucks. No matter what happens, James has hurt himself and his image. He doesn't come off well. Even if he stays, it won't be the same.

If James goes, I'll be pissed (obviously) but life will go on and I'll still watch the Cavs (and blog about 'em! Sporadically!). If you're going to feel bad for Cleveland fans, don't (well, not too much). It's just sports.

But if you're gonna feel bad for any one, feel bad for the young kids (think of the children!!!). This whole free agency drama would've absolutely killed the 10-year old Ben. I would've bombarded Chris Bosh's twitter account with angry messages roughly 45 times an hour (I mean, seriously? A sign-and-trade to the Cavs puts Bosh and LeBron in a much better position to WIN NOW).

The Cavaliers are the franchise of the young fans. I see a lot of kids come through the library and Cavalier shirts easily out number the Browns and Tribe combined. These kids don't know what "Only in Cleveland" means. If James goes on ESPN and announces he's leaving, he destroys them. They aren't bitter and jaded like the rest of us.

At least not yet.