LeBron’s Decision: Not That Bad

Phillip Barnett —  July 9, 2010

July 08, 2010 - Greenwich, CONNECTICUT, United States - epa02241970 Photo made from television screen showing LeBron James (L), NBA's reigning two-time MVP, as he ends months of speculation and announces 08 July 2010 on ESPN 'The Decision' in Greenwich, Connecticut, USA, that he will go to the Miami Heat where he will play basketball next 2010-11 season. James said his decision was based on the fact that he wanted to play with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

They ended up with that split-screen of the King’s jersey burned live on his infomercial, as this sad, lost robot sat in a leafy suburban gymnasium with children as props and the world watching, those empty eyes masking a lost, dazed LeBron James. This was the champagne shower for the Championship of Me, an exercise in self-aggrandizement and self-loathing that will have far-reaching implications for the NBA and James. What a spectacle, what a train wreck.

As the worst idea in the history of marketing unfolded, James looked trapped somewhere between despondence and defiance. His bumbling buddy Maverick Carter had walked him into the public execution of his legacy, his image, and there was a part of James that clearly wished he could turn back through the doors and hide. Only, it was too late. No going back now. James goes to the Miami Heat, Cleveland goes into a basketball Hades and LeBron’s legacy becomes that of a callous carpetbagger.

-Yahoo! Sports, Adrian Wojnarowski

It took me a while to make sense of this whole LeBron James debacle. I couldn’t stand the fact that he was taking a full one-hour segment on ESPN just to announce a decision. I thought this whole thing had been over blown and over hyped. And when he finally made his decision, my knee jerk reaction on twitter was not of kind words. However, now that I’ve had some time to sleep on it, I’ve realized that LeBron James’ decision was not so bad. In fact, I think he might have made the right move for him. As much as I want to share the sentiments of Wojnarowski, I just don’t. I don’t necessarily like the way he went about letting people know his decision, but I can’t be mad at him for joining the Miami Heat.

The reality of it is, this was one of the most culturally relevant decisions in sports history. It didn’t really change the balance of power in the NBA as much as it changed the balance of power between star athletes and everyone else – including owners, general managers, coaches and fans. One man, LeBron James, held the basketball world in the palm of his hand for months. There were grown men begging for him to join his respective city, creating custom made cartoons, Soprano’s episodes, songs were written, rallies were thrown and for what? For LeBron [bleeping] James. Can we be mad at the way he decided to let the world know where he would play next season? Sure. But should we? Not at all. For there to be a “king”, there have to be subjects willing to bow down – and during the course of LeBron’s basketball career, from high school to the NBA, we’ve seen a fair share of people bow down in the name of LeBron James.

Again, I’m not mad at him, I’m intrigued by the possibilities. Not just by this upcoming Heat season, but for seasons to follow. Yes, I think following the Heat will be absolutely fascinating, but following how star players build their own teams from now one will be more fascinating. If star players were watching this free agency period, and I know they were, I believe that we’re only scratching the surface of something quite revolutionary – players building their own teams. Amar’e Stoudemire has already said that he’ll be reaching out to Carmelo Anthony to join him on the Knicks next season. Chris Paul will have an interesting decision to make when his contract comes up and the same for all of the high marquee players. What this free agency period has taught us is that general managers are willing to clear cap space for star basketball players, and will overspend on others when they realize that they’re not going to get the star.

The fact of the matter is, what LeBron James did is not worthy of crucifixion. All he did was rip the collective hearts out of the Cleveland fan base, he ripped the hearts out of the people of his home town. And to me, that’s not a big deal. As a Lakers fan, I can respect that sense of ruthlessness, because it was Kobe Bryant who admittedly said that he wanted to rip the collective hearts out of Philadelphia back in 2001. You need to be that kind of ruthless to win NBA Titles. Look back at past champions, the Kobes, the Duncans, the Jordans, the Magics and Birds – they all showed no mercy, and it didn’t matter who was on the other side of the ball. It was all about winning for these guys, and now for LeBron, it has become all about winning. He has combined with the two best teammates he possibly could while sacrificing millions of dollars in the process, destroying his brand and adding a “yeah, but” in the minds of millions of fans if he does eventually end up winning the big one. But now, more than ever, he does have that chance. And to this point, Pro Basketball Talk’s John Krolic says it best:

Obviously, that wasn’t what happened, and all of a sudden there was no getting around the truth: LeBron James had failed. He had all the tools to win a championship at his disposal, and he ended up failing miserably. LeBron James was supposed to be the next golden boy of the NBA. He will never be that player, and that would have been true regardless of what team LeBron decided to go to. LeBron James, Golden Boy died the moment LeBron lost to the Celtics in this year’s playoffs. The decision LeBron made on Thursday night was nothing more than LeBron’s acknowledgement of that reality.

For the first seven years of his career, LeBron James desperately wanted to be all things to all people. He wanted to be the hometown kid who loved his town, loved his mom, but could still be a global icon. He wanted to be a team-first player while also establishing himself as a dominant individual force. He wanted to be a goofy kid and the NBA’s big man on campus. After he failed to deliver a championship, his all-encompassing persona didn’t work for anybody anymore. You can’t please everybody all the time, especially if you don’t have a championship. Somewhere along the line, LeBron realized that.

… LeBron James has left his hometown, and did it during a one-hour television special celebrating his move to greener pastures. He is trying to take the easy way to a championship. He’s given up his hometown and his undisputed alpha dog status in order to give himself an easier path to the rings he was supposedly destined to earned. He is a quitter. He is an egomaniac. He is every bad thing that you want him to be.

And this is where we stand in this LeBron James ordeal. Yes, he essentially stabbed Cleveland in the back. Yes, he added a new level of ego-centralism by having a one hour show on ESPN to announce his decision and yes, he joined Dwyane Wade’s team effectively killing his opportunity to win as “the man,” but he now has an opportunity to win. And in the history books, a champion is a champion. If he does go on to win one, that’s what he’ll be. A lot of us will always have that “he didn’t win one alone” argument in our back pockets when the ubiquitous Kobe v. LeBron debate comes along, but in reality, no one ever has. LeBron felt that this was the right team for him, and there is no reason to fault him for that.

Phillip Barnett

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90 responses to LeBron’s Decision: Not That Bad

  1. As a Lakers fan, I have no real stake in any of this, but my thoughts are along these lines.

    Cleveland gave him the opportunity for greatness. Same with Chicago, same with New York. There’s no guarantees he would win in those places, but if he did, he would be a legend for leading those teams to titles as one of the greatest players ever.

    The problem with Miami is that he has thrown away just the opportunity. Even if that team goes 77-5 and goes 16-0 in the playoffs, he doesn’t get the greatness. He will never be considered one of the greatest ever, rather he’ll just be a really great part of a Three Headed Monster. He won’t have led anything – he’s merely the greatest follower of all time. He’s Pippen to Wade’s Jordan, but even less so with Bosh.

    Lebron chose not to take the risk, to take on the challenge. That’s the problem. An athlete who doesn’t want the challenge is an athlete who won’t ever be a legend in his sport.

  2. You bring up good points and I agree with you on much of it. I’m still a little groggy so maybe I read things wrong but I have to disagree with your take on Wojnarowski’s article.

    Wojnarowski, like you, doesn’t have a problem with LeBron going to the Heat. If the guy really cared about winning, joining the Heat alongside Wade and Bosh was probably the best idea. When they’ll win is up for debate but it’s a pretty good move.

    It’s the callous way LeBron went about announcing his decision and closing the saga on his seemingly manufactured drama I think that has Wojnarowski, and many of us, very disgusted. If the reports are true and he never contacted the Knicks, he didn’t inform his own team of his decision prior to informing to Heat, that he had rented out cabanas and a party space in Miami to celebrate, that’s extremely disrespectful, to say the least.

    I don’t know if Gilbert’s emotional response was smart or saavy, but it confirmed what many had been speculating: that LeBron was distracted and quit on his team during the 09-10 playoffs. We often talk about the attitude issues and work ethics of players like Farmar, Big Baby… if your owner (albeit a hurt and angry one) blasts you for your character, isn’t that a red flag? Star players should be subjected to the same criticisms as role players in that regard. Thankfully for us Lakers fans, Kobe may shoot us out of a game but at least we know he’ll give it his all.

  3. The reason for fault, Phillip, isn’t that he chose to go to a team that looks like it was constructed using a cheat code in a video game.

    It isn’t even that he’s taking a LITTLE less money to win (please remember the tax situation in Florida).

    It isn’t wanting to play with friends on the same team.

    It is the gigantic gulf between how Lebron James has marketed himself and what he has now chosen to be. Lebron James was self-styled “King James”. He was the guy who tattooed “Chosen 1″ across his back. We were all witnesses to his greatness.

    He was the loyal superstar who got his Akron zip code tattooed onto himself. He was the transcendent figure who was going to be in the best ever conversations.

    He was the selfless superstar who wasn’t all about himself.

    These are all the things that Lebron told us. And they were all a load of dog dung.

    Lebron James is getting this backlash because HE SET HIMSELF UP FOR IT. Let me repeat that because I can’t emphasize it enough: Lebron is getting what he deserves because of the expectations he himself set from the very first moment he started screaming “King James!” after dunking on overmatched kids back during his high school days.

    He’s getting this backlash because the “best player in the NBA” who took Michael effing Jordan’s number shouldn’t NEED to construct a superhero team in order to win a title. The “Chosen 1″ who, remember, was on the team with the best record in the league the last two years shouldn’t need this much help.

    And, frankly, he SHOULD show some loyalty to an organization that, when all is said and done, built a championship contender around him. He’s not trapped on a team with Smush Parker, Kwame Brown and Brian Cook as his supporting cast.

    He was on a team that was EXPECTED TO CONTEND FOR A TITLE the last several years that he couldn’t push over the hump.

    No, Lebron’s decision – and more to the point how he tormented, teased, and hyped himself up prior to making that decision, deserves every nasty word said about it.

    If you’re going to set yourself up as a God then you better damn well make sure that you live on Mt. Olympus.

  4. you know…. I dont really care as a laker fan because we still have the most talented team in the NBA but WOW. Dan Gilbert is a O.G Gangsta. He was listening to hit em up/ether when he wrote that letter. Miami better find a lot of big men who play defense because everyone will be attacking them.

  5. Funny how only now are people coming out and saying how egotistical and self-aggrandizing Lebron James is. Haven’t we Lakers fans known this all along? I swear we’ve been saying this for something like 3-4 years straight, and everyone thought we were just jealous jerks.

    Turns out, we were right.

    I think Jeff Van Gundy put it the best. If James really thought he was the best, he would want to beat Wade, beat Bosh, beat Kobe, beat everyone else with his own team, not join forces with them. In the end, it just means he’s as mentally weak as he seemed, with the fear of losing outweighing the joy of accomplishment. He’s like Lakers fans who expect us to win every regular season game and go 16-0 in the playoffs while winning by 20+ every night; with him, it’s not about how he wins, just that he wins.

    When you win just for the sake of winning, that’s when it loses its moral value. That’s when James forgets why he wanted to win in the first place. It should have been about the accomplishment of the goal, not the goal itself that was most important. If not, why not just use steroids or get robotic implants or just break all your competitors kneecaps before they start to play.

    Let this be a reminder to all of us; without competition, without that possibility (and realization) of failure, success would be meaningless. Lebron has simply chosen the path of least resistance, and perhaps he is a “smarter” man for that. But all of us, in our humanity, can see through his facade and into the weakness of the lesser man he has seemed to become.

  6. Well said Phillip & Zephid.

    I too had a knee jerk reaction to the knee jerk reactions last night – I thought immediately that it was wrong for people to crucify LeBron for his “disloyalty” to the fans. I still think he made the right decision by doing what’s best for himself and nobody can judge him, be it Laker or Cavs fan. Ultimately, what makes him happy for his lifetime is more important than the passing fan’s hobby. However, thinking of what it would be like had Kobe left the Lakers when they were struggling (which is actually not as bad since the FO didn’t mortgage away our future), I can better understand how much it sucks to be in Cle, esp after that comic-sans tirade, though a classless abomination, showed how much abject horror is felt by Cle right now. And I feel sorry for them.

  7. If his main aim is to win a title, then I think he made the right decision: http://chrisofspades.posterous.com/lebron-james-made-the-right-decision-but-not

  8. This is the reason I don’t think there is going to be an issue about who is the alpha dog on the Heat.

    LeBron gave that up to join this team. That’s why it will improve the odds that they will be able to play together.

    He may get his championship, but he will have lost something else to get it.

  9. hahaha

    jadande #faketweets @BrianShaw: Whew.

  10. a friend told me, this is like finishing HALO on easy mode.

    he’s doing what aging veterans do at the age of 25!

  11. I disagree with the first commenter. Winning a championship is difficult, regardless of how you do it. If anything, he’s looking at how a legacy can be re-defined. You wanna know how he won’t be a legend? If he doesn’t win a ring at all.

    Phil, I dig this piece of writing right here, man. Here’s the thing about LeBron that people seem to neglect; in high school, he was the best player on his team, and got all the attention, but he leaned on his boys more than they leaned on him. Sure, he got an ego, but he loves camaraderie more than anything. He wants to win, and have fun doing it. It was the same thing in Cleveland with the picture-taking, dancing, and all that. To this day, I will say once people stop trying to make this man something he’s not, and instead look at who he is as a player, they won’t be shocked anymore.

    Wade, Bosh, and LeBron just showed how much juice players can have, if they work together, sacrifice, and trust in each other. I love this for reasons that extend much farther than the basketball court.

  12. I don’t seen much that is new or different with Lebron. He just extended the path that was laid down by others, and with the 24/7 media world of today, you cannot get away from it. Players have ruled the league since the 80′s – at least that’s as far as my limited memory and knowledge goes. Riley is who he is in part because Magic got a coach fired and Riley got the job. As the NBA has gotten richer, players have rightfully demanded more and got it. And we’ve all accepted it, in the form of higher ticket prices, longer televised games, expensive sneakers, etc. The NBA is a league where the individual is king . But Lebron has realized that kings don’t win wars – armies do. And Lebron was an army of one in Cleveland. We’ll see if he and his teammates can get it done in Miami. That’s a lot of egos involved, and Riley hasn’t yet snatched the coaching job back yet. Should be interesting to say the least. But it really doesn’t matter. I don’t think they can beat the lakers in 7.

  13. I’m really interested in how the Heat will fill out their roster. I’m in a roto baseball league that uses an auction draft, and this is called the “studs and duds” strategy. You end up left with $11 for 10 spots, and wonder whether Joel Pineiro will be available for a buck.

    What kind of starting center will they get in a league where Darko gets a $20m/4yr contract? Pops Mensah-Bonsu?

    Or… DJ Mbenga? Would Farmar play for minimum for a chance to start on that team?

  14. “I disagree with the first commenter. Winning a championship is difficult, regardless of how you do it. If anything, he’s looking at how a legacy can be re-defined. You wanna know how he won’t be a legend? If he doesn’t win a ring at all.”

    Of course it’s difficult, but it’s a whole lot less difficult if you decide not to be the leader.

    The analogy I read last night was imagine if Michael Jordan had decided to leave the Bulls after 1990 to join Isaiah in Detroit. Would anyone have respected that decision? And even if those Pistons win 6 titles with Jordan, is his legacy anywhere NEAR the same?

  15. Andre,

    You hit the nail on the head!

  16. My only problem with Lebron’s decision is that Chicago was the better pick if he wants to win IMO.

  17. Not sure if I completely agree with you, Phillip.

    Jim C (#3) said it perfectly. LeBron set himself up for this. He’s marketed himself as one way and then turned into something completely different last night.

    I have news for you, you can’t talk about him in the same breath as Kobe or even Wade after last night.

    “King” James basically relegated himself to sidekick status last night (Wade is going to be the closer on that team, make no mistake).

    And Phillip, I really, REALLY disagree with this paragraph:

    “The fact of the matter is, what LeBron James did is not worthy of crucifixion. All he did was rip the collective hearts out of the Cleveland fan base, he ripped the hearts out of the people of his home town. And to me, that’s not a big deal. As a Lakers fan, I can respect that sense of ruthlessness, because it was Kobe Bryant who admittedly said that he wanted to rip the collective hearts out of Philadelphia back in 2001. You need to be that kind of ruthless to win NBA Titles. Look back at past champions, the Kobes, the Duncans, the Jordans, the Magics and Birds – they all showed no mercy, and it didn’t matter who was on the other side of the ball. It was all about winning for these guys, and now for LeBron, it has become all about winning. ”

    How is LeBron showing “no mercy” by cowardly taking the easy way out by joining up with Wade and Bosh? He’s basically admitting he can’t be “the guy.”

    He’s leaving a 60+ win Cleveland team.

    He’s not spurring ownership to get him better teammates (or coaches) like Kobe and Magic.

    He already did that. Ownership got him better teammates. He just couldn’t seal the deal, and last night, he basically admitted that.

    You can’t have your own ESPN special and announce, “I’m the greatest player in the NBA, but I also want to be a second banana.”

    RUTHLESS would have been joining New York and resurrecting basketball there.

    RUTHLESS would even have been going to Chicago and trying to take a young team to the Finals.

    What James decided to do last night was not ruthless (and by the way, it was the worst kept secret of all time).

  18. Phillip: The claim isn’t that he couldn’t win alone. The claim is instead that Bird stayed in Boston, Magic stayed in LA, Jordan stayed in Chicago and Kobe stayed in LA. In contrast, as the one soul on Sons of Sam Horn so aptly put the matter, LeBron left town to become DWade’s b-tch. In other words, contra to at least one comment on that last thread, it will be DWade’s team, and on the premise that top dog doesn’t leave town to go a winner, but instead stays and has some others gravitate to him.

  19. @Matt R.

    Going along with the theme of this post, maybe that’s why he didn’t go to Chicago, because he would still have had to carry those expectations that he had in CLE – same thing with the Knicks. He would have still been the alpha dog.

  20. I cant blame him for leaving. Gilbert had 7 years to put the right pieces around LeBron and never got the job done. A 400 year old Shaq? Really? A mid season move to get Jamison, one of the biggest underachievers in the NBA. Mo Williams? Some one say streaky?

    If one positive thing will happen out of this is that Kobe wont be the biggest villian in the NBA anymore because the hate LeBron will get for this decision, especially by Cav fans, has been reserved for Kobe the past 7 years or so, since Shaq left.

    But I am excited to see what players this Heat team can pull together now, and look forward to seeing them battle Boston, Orlando and Chicago…and hopefully they will have a trip to Los Angles come next June.

  21. Sorry…but from a previous thread…

    We have seen this played out before. Sorry for the Star Wars analogy, but I can’t see anything more apt than this analogy.

    Anakin Skywalker is noticed from a young age as someone with spectacular skills. He is regarded as the “Chosen One” who will be some sort of saviour. Anakin has certain flaws, that are noticed when he is young: fear of loss, attachment to his mother, and later, his forbidden romance with Padme. All this is known but the Jedi condone it, simply because of Anakin’s great abilities and “Chosen One” status. Fast forward and we see that these flaws have consumed Anakin to the point where he joins the reviled enemies of the Jedi, who not only condone Anakin’s previous “flaws” but allow him to tap into it for greater power.

    That in a nutshell is Lebron. At a young age, he was already groomed the King, the Chosen One, etc. Cavs’ owner Gilbert knew of LBJ’s sadistic narcissim, yet condoned it. When push came to shove, LBJ wanted something greater since he could not get what we wanted in Cleveland. He was the chosen one who was supposed to break the Clev. curse, but now, he is joining Miami’s soon-to-be-reviled empire. We have now witnessed the transformation of him from lovable Anakin to the hated Darth Vader. Sorry for the nerdy and lengthy analogy but I can’t think of any other example.

  22. For what its worth, Boston and LA were (and still are) top flight organizations before Bird, Magic, and Kobe. Jordan’s the only one that put his team on the map by staying with that team. It has to be easier for a player to stay with his organization if they know the organization is a winner. LeBron leaving definitely hurts his legacy of course because staying with and winning in Cleveland as the top dog would mean a lot more than winning in Miami with Wade and Bosh. But I think you’re giving Bird, Magic, and Kobe too much credit for staying with their respective teams because they had more of a reason to trust their organizations.

  23. I’ll consider LeBron one of the greatest if he wins rings. SUCK ON THAT, HATERS. I KNOW IT MAKES YOU MAD.

  24. First off, let me say – great post Phillip.

    Second, I’ll touch on Lebron to Miami from an on the court perspective with a different post, but I can’t blame Lebron for choosing this path.

    Understand, this isn’t a Jordan in Chicago situation or even Kobe/Magic in LA situation. Jordan played for a smart organization that made a lot of deals that ended up improving the team to the point that they were champions. They traded for the rights to Pippen, drafted Grant, hired Phil Jackson, traded for Cartwright, etc, etc. The Lakers snookered other teams for draft picks that led to Worthy and Byron Scott. They stole Mychal Thompson and took advantage of their market to sign Shaq. They were able to trade for the rights to Kobe and lure role players with the allure of playing for the Lakers and hunting a championship.

    Now, I ask, was that going to happen for Lebron in Cleveland? They just hired a head coach that few Lakers fans wanted and is known to grate on his players. Their GM just quit in the biggest FA summer in recent memory. Their owner, by all accounts and proven with this “LETTER”, is not someone that I’d want to be running an organization that is working towards a championship. So, again, what’s keeping Lebron in Cleveland? Loyalty? Really? That’s a tough sell for these ears. Also, understand that despite people calling Lebron a front runner for his love of the Cowboys and Yankees and how he’s not a real Cleveland-er. I agree, he’s from Akron. He’s always said that he’s from Akron (and has referrred to himself as the King of Akron) and I actually distinctly remember him talking in an interview when he was younger about how folks from Akron have not always had the highest opinion of Cleveland. Kind of like it’s a rivalry of sorts with Akron always being a place that was trying to show that they were just as good. Now, I could be off base with this, but Lebron likely never saw Cleveland as his “hometown” and maybe didn’t have the attachment to the place that others have tried to say he should. Again, maybe I’m off base, but that’s my feeling on that.

    So, in the end, Lebron went to the place where he thinks he can get the players and can play for an organization with great owners, a very successful GM in place, and 2 of the best players in the league to flank him. Some may want to disparage him for that, but I won’t do it. He’s giving himself a chance to win. And while his singular ability would likely give him that chance anywhere, I’m thinking if you could really choose your teammates and you know who is really great and who is really merely really good, I think I may choose the guys that are really great and see where that takes me. Why should we expect a guy to put himself in a worse situation? So he can prove his own greatness? Based off what many have already said about him and his outsized ego, he already thinks he’s the cow’s milk so do we really believe he *thinks* he has to prove anything to anyone? Based off what he’s said, winning matters most and based off how fans respond, he’s right. And on a side note, we consistently have said that Kobe’s great and that those that tried to discount his performances and contributions during the Shaq era were fools. And we’d be right to call those people fools. I don’t care what trumped up stories the media throws out there, Kobe was a champion before 2009 and he was integral to those teams. If he retired with only 3 titles because he never had another “team” good enough to win, I wouldn’t have thought any less of him. So, at this point, I’m not going to say that Lebron is less a player because he’s on “Wade’s team” and they happen to win a title. I’m pretty damned sure if the Heat end up winning with this group, Lebron will have a big hand in why it happened. The man is a great, great player and trying to tear him down seems petty to me. As fans of one of the most divisive players of the last 25 years, I would think we’d understand this phenomena best.

  25. The problem is that if you proclaim yourself “King” you don’t sign up to another country’s army.

    Basically LeBron surrendered his sovereignty in order to be a subject in Wade’s kingdom.

    Instead of being the next MJ he has become the next Pippen. How lame is that from a “King”, from the most talented player in the game? what does that tell us about his confidence in himself?

    And the one hour spectacle? I hate that – no one is bigger than the game itself, and by doing the show James is trying to make the NBA about himself instead of the other way around.

    That is disrespectful to the game and for that, the all- powerful basketball Gods will punish him for sure.

    There is a reason KB has 5 rings and LBJ has none, and I thank LeBron for making it so clear to everyone else.

  26. Andres Garcia July 9, 2010 at 11:05 am

    No problem with the move to the Heat. Actually, kind of excited to see how the Lakers match up with them. This is starting to resemble the 80′s with some serious “super”-teams in play. Back then it was the Celts, Lakes, Sixers. Now, Celts, Lakes, and Heat.

    However, the one hour special and weeks and weeks of manufactured “suspense” was a low blow to Cleveland fan. Lebron lost a lot of fans in the last few weeks (and the Lakers gained quite a few…especially those Cle fans that are now jumping off the bandwagon). Horrible Horrible Horrible decision by Lebron’s people. Who thought that was a good idea?

  27. how do any of us know what the on court dynamics will be? We don’t know that he will be second fiddle to Wade. I mean potentially this team can average 150 points a game and keep their opponents below 50. LeBron might average the Triple Double people have talked about him pulling off now. And if he does that, how does his legacy suffer any? Especially when the Heat start bringing the Larry O’Brien trophy home?

  28. My vote: No problem at all with the basketball decision. LeBron has to decide for himself–for no one else–how he wants his legacy to be perceived. And Miami gives him an excellent chance to win titles. I think, with time (and possibly not too much time), it will become a great team.

    But I cannot stand, I cannot abide by, I cannot condone the way he announced it. I know, it’s not my place to condone. At least not individually. Collectively, we do have a voice, and I think it should speak out against this kind of self-important tomfoolery. I didn’t like it when Kobe went on his diatribe a few years ago, and I like it even less with LeBron. Not because it’s LeBron, but because the reason for the spectacle had nothing to do with winning (as we might imagine it had, in Kobe’s case), but with elevating the LeBron name.

    Well, he got what he asked for. For better or worse, his name is now elevated. And people feel worse about it than they would have if he had just announced his decision in an ordinary way: with a tweet, or a press release, or even a press conference. Not this tortured reality show.

    And who feels better as a result of this debacle? Nobody. Not Miami, who was already going to feel good about the result. You think they’re happy that not only did LeBron join their team, but he got to announce it on national TV? You’d have to be borderline sociopathic to enjoy that on its own “merits.” So congratulations, LeBron. You crushed a lot of people last night, needlessly. And that’s on you, and you alone.

  29. I think LeBron made a smart move. Sure he gave up the chance to be G.O.A.T by leaving and being option 1A on Miami, but staying in Cleveland he was staring at the “abyss” of a Charles Barkley zero ring career. LeBron gave Cleveland 7 good years and then smartly came to the decision that Scottie Pippen or Pau Gasol weren’t walking through that door, and bounced.

    The fact is, the back-to-back MVP decided he was okay with being option 1A or even 2 if that means championships, we shouldn’t be chastising LeBron, we should be commending him.

  30. Check out my thoughts on the fallout from LeBron’s decision, the Randolph-Lee trade and NBA Summer League.

    sportsaccordingtome.com

  31. Being a Lakers fan, I could call less about what happened and what transpired last night. The Los Angles Lakers are still the two time defending champions and still will be the favorites to win the Championship again next season. And with Amare and Boozer leaving the west is not that deep. The only team I see as a threat is the OKC Thunder. And the Heat might not even make it to the Finals next season. We still have the best player in the Universe and will still have the best PF in the league. And mark my words Bynum is going to be a beast next year. I think he will stay healthy for the entire season and average 20 plus points a game. There is no doubt in my mind that this team as currently constructed will win 3 peat. The rest of the league including the Miami Heat are looking up towards the Lakers!!!!!

  32. “I mean potentially this team can average 150 points a game and keep their opponents below 50.”

    No, they can’t. Not even potentially.

    Winning just 1 or 2 titles with Cleveland is worth more than winning several with Miami. Part of the reason Jordan is held in such high esteem is he made the Bulls the Bulls. Bringing a title to the sports-purgatory that is Cleveland, as the head honcho, would bring him closer to being compared to MJ than going the A-Rod path.

    I have no problem with LeBron’s decision to go to Miami. Going somewhere where he has a chance to win multiple championships just makes a lot of sense. Being willing to sacrifice some personal glory to share the load is certainly unselfish, but his legacy before could have been on the path to GOAT, and I’m not sure that can ever be the case anymore.

  33. well put, Darius.

    I think the LeBron spectacle was ridiculous, so I didn’t watch. I hope no one else did either, but I just saw a tweet that said that the ratings were higher for last night’s show than for finals that LeBron played in.

    Anyways, I understand how we worship sports heroes and project on them all sorts of values, which more often not are misplaced, but this is crazy.

    The “King” is a nickname like the “most dominant ever” (from the same guy who said “I won at every level except college and pro”). He’s not the second coming, a sci-fi character, a miltary general, a tragic greek hero.

    He’s just a great basketball player who’s chances of winning a championship just got a lot better.

  34. darius made a great point about the organizational issues surrounding cleveland and its potential effect on lebron. rather than chastise lebron, i would be interested in gilbert sharing what input, if any, lebron had in the departures of the gm and coach. what was gilbert willing to risk to keep lebron? Magic was the first player I can think of that got a coach removed. Maybe Magic’s feelings were not the only reason for the firing, but Buss made sure he had a good relationship with Magic. That communication was lacking in cleveland. I mean, why couldn’t lebron get Wade, Bosh, Boozer, Allen, Pierce etc. to come to cleveland?

  35. FWIW

    @jadande Mike Miller says Miami deal not final, but it’s “#1″ spot for him. I think it’d be gangster of Cavs to throw $12 mil/yr at him 4 the block 22 minutes ago

  36. I have no problem with Lebron choosing Miami. Its the choice that probably gives him the best chance to win a championship. But the whole ordeal with the 1 hr special and stringing NY, Chi and Cle along while he probably knew all along where he was going was just a little too narcissistic for me.

  37. this move (by three top players) to create their own super-team is going to damage the nba — if it is allowed to stand (which I don’t think it will be) [cue walter sobchek here]

    if all the top players get concentrated on a few mega-teams, then what kind of league is that? it’s the Globetrotters league, akin to the WWF in terms of legitimate competition.

    spreading talent too thin is bad, and so is concentrating it. having a balance of power between owners, players, and refs is important — critically so. what’s happening in miami is one short step away from deciding who wins each night, and making the actual game a formality.

  38. The fact that they gave up Michael Beasley, the #2 pick for a sack of potatos means that have another free agent coming in with them, probably Mike Miller.

  39. thisisweaksauce July 9, 2010 at 12:01 pm

    Darius, I know you’re OK with why he made his decision, a good number of people (not all, obviously) are. But what about how, the manner in which he did it? What’s your opinion on that? I don’t think the city of Cleveland appreciated the manner in which he did it; it could have been more discreet, in their eyes.

  40. NO! NO! NO! and NO!!!!

    The above comments, from everyone on this here site, are just dances around the issue- as if it is about an athletic narcissist that gives us all pleasure in watching what he can do on a court, and then takes what we’ll give him for that pleasure. This is all about US!!!!

    Did you watch the decision on ESPN? Guess what, you could have been cleaning some oil of a bird instead.

    Did you tweet snarky comments? Guess what, you could have been building a transistor radio with your children instead.

    Did you read all the dozens of articles waiting for the mass marketed opinion that best resonated with the thoughts you’ve collected over the course of your life? You should have been out in the garden checking if your strawberries had fought off that fungus.

    LeBron is a giant air bag, swallowing our own narcissistic habits and beaming it back at us in high definition, and yet we don’t recognize the dude on the screen is us. Dude wants to be a Global Icon and we don’t just laugh at him for this absurd desire. His skills, the ones that he excels in, are all skills perfectly fitting for the sport. Why does this make him skilled in whatever it is a Global Icon is supposed to achieve? It’s like thinking that since you can beat all comers in single combat, you’ll be an awesome constellation. Or better yet, because your army beat that army, you deserve their stuff. We might find that these things turn out to be true at times. Sure, kill a bunch of people, take their stuff, nothing avenges them, you win. That doesn’t say there is meaning to your victory… just stuff. The capacity for LeBron to use his skills to earn lots of money, and then to earn control over his environment… this all clearly happens. It means nothing… it’s just stuff. Maybe he’ll be known world wide as winner and then make even more money, and turn that money into more power. I’m pretty confident that he will. But, keep in mind that the man at the top of the basketball pyramid, the man all players are now in shadow of, made a decent portion of his money because he was an athlete whose image never resonated with the term hypocrite, even as he was associated his athletic prowess with food we all know undermines athletic performance. It doesn’t mean anything… it’s just stuff. Now, it’s our choice. We can watch “The Decision” on ESPN. We can buy something because of the icon attached to it. We can get on a message board and try to predict the legacy of a man when he likely has a decade more to his career, let alone the time he has in his life. We do all that to so we can pretend that “The Decision” was LeBron’s instead of ours. None of this means anything. There will be no consequences if you are wrong. It’s all just stuff that obscures just how meaningless this LeBron guy really is. He is vacuous like us.

  41. So, where do the Heat go from here? At present their roster probably consists of:

    Dwade Chalmers
    Miller
    Lebron
    Bosh
    Joel Anthony (lol)

    Already formidable as it stands. Can they resign Haslem or is this unlikely? Do Bird Rights kick in here and allow them to give him a decent check?

    I think it’s highly likely that the Heat throws a minimum offer at Shaq or Z or both. You throw in their two 2nd rounders, Pittman and Varnado, and they’re already looking like a pretty legit squad.

    I’m sure Kobe’s in the gym as we speak, pumped up by the prospect of slaying three superstars in their prime. After our Boston victory, I was left with a post-war hangover, sort of a strange melancholy stemming from the possibility that the greatest triumph of this Lakers squad might be behind them. On behalf of Kobe’s 5 rings and his (perhaps arthritic) middle finger, thank you Pat Riley for saving the day.

    Bring it.

  42. So what they’re going to have in Miami next year is an incredible hybrid of the All-Star Team and the D League.

  43. Ok, off the LeBron, more on the Heat…

    When this was all in speculation, I had no fear the Heat. How would these three max players and 9 scrubbs be able to compete. Don’t get me wrong, on a personal, fan, level – I’m jacked to watch them play, it should be fun. But a major threat…I didn’t think so.

    I’m waiting to be shocked to see what these contracts really turn out to be. If the “really” have a championship in mind, they might take even less than I’m thinking. They got rid of waste-of-life Beasley for some money, and assuming the Miami Thrice (I liked that on ESPN by the way) take a decent pay cut, they may actually have some money to throw around, a la Mike Miller. If they can put a decent squad around the three…I’m impressed and now seeing the Heat as a legit threat.

    Only time will tell on that. I’ve heard the name’s Kwame and Shaq…among others. Maybe Shaq can follow LeBron like LeBron followed Wade and still win one for the “King”? Haha. Too much.

    I heard Diesel wanted like 10M/per, and wouldnt settle for even the full MLE. Wow. But I’m interested to see how the Heat fill out there roster / what room they manage or if it does come down to 9 vet mins.

  44. I don’t buy the LeBron’s Pippen argument and that somehow denigrates his legacy. It remains to be seen who will make that team go, how they will compete, how they will win. Wade’s a franchise player, but LeBron imo has been a better player. The fact that Wade’s been there doesn’t have anything to do with it because it’s a new team that they’re basically starting from scratch. The fact that he’s a closer doesn’t mean much either – Hedo & Kobe closed, but does that mean those weren’t Dwight & Shaq’s teams? No. I’m excited to see all the versatile facets of LeBron’s game – that might be his true greatness, his true legacy rather than all this chosen one, 1 vs 5 mumbo jumbo. And it might just speak to a greater legacy that reflects the team sport of basketball rather than its individualism.

  45. Lebron always said he will go where he will win the most championships. If he would have stayed I would have been pissed because he would have been a liar. He made the right choice for himself in what he wanted. The way he made the choice was bad and I never liked the whole 1 hour show but there is no reason for cleveland to over react like they are! Lebron played his heart out for 7 years! he did his best but did the owner/GM bring him an all-star? NO! mo williams? haha hes no all star.. Fans should be more pissed at the cavs owners than lebron. he wants to win and couldn’t on his own. i have no sympathy for them anymore.

  46. The real motivation behind Lebron’s decision, I imagine, is that he understands that the main knock against him is that he hasn’t won any rings. He should win a few in Miami.

    A lot of people are saying that his decision reeks of insecurity: he’s choosing to team up with a superstar in Wade and an excellent if overrated player in Bosh instead of choosing a team in which he would be the clear alpha dog, a team like Chicago or New Jersey. People of this opinion also tend to say that even if (read: when) he wins a championship in Miami, he will not be better than Jordan because Jordan won six as the undisputed “man.”

    What I think is so cool about this move is that James (I don’t think he believes this; I think that he’ll always be ego-maniacal, but that’s beside the point) is in effect rejecting the Jordan paradigm, the notion that greatness consists in winning a championship with a team in which you’re some sort of ubermensch–a “King,” if you will. Lebron no doubt will still think of himself as a King if he wins in Miami, but really he would win as one (very important) cog of a much larger team; he will have negated some aspects of himself with a view to the team’s ultimate interest. I think that’s great, more in line with the collective quality that’s at the heart of basketball.

    Lebron epitomizes the narcissism that gives the NBA a bad name, and in Miami he’ll still be a narcissus off the court, but he’ll play and win in a more holistic, collective way. Obviously I’m being reductionist here (every player wins as part of a collective); my point is just that the ethos of a Miami championship would be so much more interesting than the Jordan model, and really much closer to that which characterized the Laker and Celtic teams of the ’80s, which were collections of individually dominant players who, at least in the act of playing, subsumed their egos into a team- rather than individual-identity.

  47. I just don’t understand what’s so wrong with him essentially admitting that he couldn’t do it by himself. Like burningjoe said, it’s not written in stone that LeBron will play second banana. I mean, if Riley finds a way to put the right guys around this team and they win a title or two, LeBron winning both a couple of Finals MVPs is not out of the realm of possibility. And historically, writers and film makers have a way about highlighting all of the good things about a players career. The NBA, more than any other sport, uses nostalgia to create its image, which is why the legacy of Jordan will live on a lot longer than say the legacy of a Joe Montana. LeBron’s decision didn’t change the fact that he’s on pace to be a first ballot hall of famer, he’s still going to have that 20 minute long highlight reel and he’s still only 25, which means his career is far from over. Going to Miami means nothing more than the fact that he couldn’t win in Cleveland, and I don’t think there is much more to be read into that.

  48. So glad Lebron chose MIA, as a basketball fan, just to see how well that team can play. I am unconvinced they will even make the Finals for the next couple of years, even if they land Miller (a great pickup if they can get him).

    I feel it was the wrong decision for his legacy and for all the local fans.

    From a basketball perspective, is it really so clear that CLE was so far from a championship? They were one of the top 4 teams last year and have Shaq coming off the books. Yes, Ferry and Mike Brown were gone, but Lebron could have picked and chosen whoever he wanted as coach and GM. That chaos was his fault. And the GM made I thought strong moves to help LBJ… what brilliant moves was Ferry supposed to make that he didn’t? CLE was an absolute juggernaut in the regular season and fell only to a historically sound bully team defense.

    Looking forward to Darius’s strategic take. Conventional wisdom says Wade, Leb and Bosh are not reliable from 3 so they need a couple of snipers, along with big meat at C. Mike Miller would be a great sniper and be passable at D. The C could be an Mbenga type. That would be a stellar front 5. The bench would be literally replacement level.

    And is Spolestra ready to handle the egos and get them to share the ball? I think Leb and Wade have never played anything more complex than pick and roll or ISOs, but you could go pretty far with a Wade/Bosh pick and roll/pop with a Lebron release.

  49. I completely agree with the analysis by Jim C. I would add that LBJ will never be in the same league as Kobe. By signing with Miami, he basically admits he can’t carry a team to the championship the way Kobe has. The real mvp during the past two seasons has added two more rings to his legacy, while LBJ couldn’t even get to the finals with the team that had the best record during the past two years.

  50. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar spent 6 years as The Man on a small market team, winning Rookie of the Year, multiple MVPs, and putting up incredible numbers, before heading to LA and winning 5 rings alongside fellow Hall of Famers.

    Except Kareem won a title with his first team.

  51. Can we be mad at the way he decided to let the world know where he would play next season? Sure. But should we? Not at all. For there to be a “king”, there have to be subjects willing to bow down – and during the course of LeBron’s basketball career, from high school to the NBA, we’ve seen a fair share of people bow down in the name of LeBron James.

    Ahem. I was never among those subjects. I’ve never bowed and scraped and praised his never-ending glory. So I still maintain that the greatest atrocity here is that I was forced to watch nearly an hour of poorly scripted ego-stroking in order to find out one of the most important decisions in the NBA his year. I’m not one of LeBrons sycophants, I never was, and it’s insulting to treat me like one.

    I had no part in building this monster, which means I have every right to loathe it openly. Don’t try to tell me otherwise.

  52. Good post Phillip.

    What I find most interesting is that even though we all know that sports is business and that players will go where they can make the most money 95% (99.9%?) of the time we still all wish that players would make decisions not based entirely on money. How many times have people on this site wished that Kobe would’ve taken a pay cut to help bring in more talent? I think we all wish money wasn’t such a big factor.

    And yet, here we have a player who chose to take less money so that he could play with his friends and try to win championships (and joining Wade/Bosh in Miami *greatly* improves his odds) and he’s being crucified for it. Nowhere is he being given credit for making a decision that was *not* based just on money.

    I think we’re all pretty much in agreement that LeBron could have handled his announcement/decision better, but I’d like just a little less focus on that and more on his decision to forgoe the most money or fame (New York). Doesn’t that suggest that he’s just a little less arrogant than most of the commenters here and elsewhere are suggesting?? Doesn’t the fact that he doesn’t have to be Top Dog indicate less arrogance as well? Seriously, as Lakers fans we’ve all seen how unfairly Kobe has been treated, aren’t we doing the same (at least a little bit) to LeBron?

    Phillip, you mentioned it but it hasn’t been discussed much but this could dramatically change the future of how the NBA works. In the past the competitive balance was determined by the front office through drafts, trades, coach hirings, free agency, etc. If this works in Miami and they win multiple titles and future stars realized that *they* can determine the competitive balance of the league that’s a *major* change in the way sports works.

    The NBA is already largely a league of haves and have-nots vis-a-vis winning titles and this has the potential to make this even more true. You might very well get to a situation in which the few cities deemed the most desireable to live in (weather, night life, etc) get all the best players; a situation in which a city like San Antonio will have almost no chance. I don’t think this is good for the league in the long run from a competitive standpoint (although could be beneficial TV ratings wise as Americans like watching the Goliaths). What does everyone else think??

  53. Drew, the heat renounced all rights to former players to clear cap space. So any former player, like Haslem, will count against their salary cap.

    I don’t have a problem with Lebron going to the Heat. But that one hour “special” was not necessary. It was a 30 minute lebron highlight real. Then about 5 more minutes of lebron small talk. Secondly, are we really supposed to believed this wasn’t set weeks ago. Its too many factors that had to go into this before lebron, wade, and bosh could have all committed. First, the salary cap came out higher then projected, and higher then last season. How is that if the league is losing money. Secondly, if Lebron made his decision yesterday morning, then why did just about every single journalist absolutely know that where he was going. Stephen A. Smith said this was going to happen and was 100% sure over a week ago. Then if you add all that free agent summit mess and lebron planning his party in Miami, they decided this is what they were going to do but just had their representatives leak stupid stuff like, ‘wade is leaning towards chicago’ bs. Also how was it that Miami, expecting lebron, wade and bosh offer mike miller 30 million over 5 years before the salary cap came out and before lebron “officially committed”. This was all a facade, and all this was planned for some time. And how do you not even respectfully call your former organization and inform them your plans, instead you treat them like……witnesses.

    I hope they make the finals just so the lakers can beat them and Kobe will distance his greatness from lebron/wade by miles. This wasn’t the best decision for lebron, this was the best decision for the league. Miami is a fairweather/bandwagon basketball town and now they will sell out every single game and if they make the finals versus the lakers this will match or top the ratings of the Jordan 98′ finals.

  54. Lebron is Wades lapdog, period.
    Could anybody picture Jordan leaving the Bulls to go play with Isiah and the Pistons at the 7 year mark? No. And for anybody that thinks that team is going to win next year, put the glue down. They are not big enough, the will go down in 2nd round most likely.

  55. thisisweaksauce July 9, 2010 at 12:57 pm

    Philip,

    Refer to comment 5, by Zephid. True success arises from competing against the best, and beating them. Simply joining them cheapens it. It’s what made Magic and Bird’s rivalry so compelling. It’s what makes Kobe and Michael great; they never would have joined their rivals.

  56. KOBE WILL BE MVP IN 2011!

    That’s right. Kobe has the best shot now at being MVP this coming season. Think about it, with Lebron, Wade, and Bosh all on the same team how can any one of them win the MVP? I’m sure each of their stats will suffer in certain ways as they try to spread the wealth, but there is virtually no way that the NBA will give an MVP to Lebron or Wade. Kobe is the clear face of the Lakers, but who is the “clear” face of the Heat? Kobe has got to be grinning from ear to ear right now.

    Sure the Heat will become a formidable opponent…but an opponent in the Eastern Conference! Let the Magic, Celtics, and Bobcats worry about them (seriously, how screwed are the teams in the southeastern division?). We may or may not face the Heat in the Finals in the coming years, if we do then that’ll be an incredibly entertaining series…and if we don’t then it doesn’t effect us either way. All in all, the MVP award just went from a 3 way competition between Lebron, Kobe, and Wade to an award that is Kobe’s to lose. If he turns out another regular season like he did last year then there is no doubt he will be our 2011 MVP!

  57. I’m feeling better than ever about being a Laker fan.

    Even the three ring circus that was 2004 looks pretty civilized compared to the LBJ/ESPN fiasco.

    Even the “are you kidding me?” trashing of Mitch and Bynum by Kobe seems almost gentlemanly by comparison to LeBron’s displays of ultra narcissism.

    I hope the Heat make the Finals next year, because I have a crazy hunch the Lakers will be there, too.

  58. Devo,

    I think you forgot about the young gun: Kevin Durant.

  59. KD is as much a favorite as Kobe for the MVP, if not moreso. Too much talent, the Thunder are going to be a top-4 Western Conference team (if not better), and he’s the undisputed leader.

  60. Mimsy, to be fair, I didn’t say that EVERYONE was one of his subjects — because I surely wasn’t either. But they were there, in droves, willingly bowing down to him every step of his career. He gave himself the nickname, but others allowed that nickname to stick in the same way that we allowed the Black Mamba nickname to stick for Kobe. I’m not comparing the two by any means, I’m just saying his ego is as big as it is just because he’s that full of himself. It’s gotten that big because there are plenty of people who have helped it to grow to it’s current size. I’m not saying that it’s wrong to be mad at the way he presented himself, but I can’t put the blame solely on him. He’s been catered to his whole life, why would we expect the biggest decision of his career to be any different?

  61. One thing that’s been overshadowed is Pat Riley and how he has pulled this off. He’s not done yet. He knows what else this team needs to compete for a championship. Getting LBJ and Bosh were the key pieces, but I’m sure he’s been thinking about how to get some other pieces this year.

    If what this article says is true, if Riley can get CLE and TOR to agree to S&T’s, then he has some more flexibility to get some better role players on board. I’m not sure why CLE would want to deal with Riley, but from a purely business perspective, it sounds like it’s better to get something rather than nothing. If this happens, Riley will have played this incredibly well.

    http://www.sun-sentinel.com/sports/miami-heat/sfl-miami-heat-update-s070910,0,4440538.story

    In a potentially significant turn of events, the Miami Heat is attempting to work out a sign-and-trade agreement with the Cleveland Cavaliers for free-agent forward LeBron James, who already has agreed to join the Heat

    Should the Heat be able to pull off the maneuver, it could possibly give Heat President Pat Riley the flexibility to re-sign a remaining current Heat free agent, such, as Udonis Haslem, Dorell Wright or Quentin Richardson.

  62. Who could the Heat trade (in a sign-and-trade) if they’ve renounced their entire roster?

  63. who is miami going to send to cleveland in a sign-and-trade, bosh? because other than mario, that’s all they have.

  64. #57

    Yea…I did forget about Durant…but hey, the race for MVP went from 4 to 2, still better odds for Kobe.

  65. @Phillip
    I probably misunderstood then. And I agree. LeBron has surrounded himself with enablers and yes-sayers his entire life, who willingly helped his ego to grow. He’s probably never had a reality check in his entire life, not even the sight of Cleveland fans burning his jersey in anger will reach him on any personal or important level.

    I also think there’s no way the shameless self-promotion is going to end any time soon. LeBron will continue to market himself as The Chosen one, the Greatest, The King, whatever sounds best at the time. All the while playing second fiddle to Dwayne Wade, who will refuse to let LeBron take over his team.

    As others were saying earlier (Jim C and Zephid among others), if you truly believe yourself to be the greatest, you have no interest in turning yourself into someone else’s sidekick. You just don’t.

  66. 1) Nobody should care if Kobe is going to be a co-favorite for MVP. Because it’s meaningless after the first one, and everyone knows it. And you know who knows it best, and cares the least about it? Probably Kobe. Seriously.

    2) The GM had a right to vent, he just lost 100m because a guy they spent the last 5 years covering up for and forgiving for bad behavior on and off the court (usually minor, but still) and appeasing with constant, annual efforts to even marginally help the team just told them adios… via live television.(Also, Anakin Skywalker is a fair analogy. I’ll avoid the too obvious Hitler-appeasement connection).

    Seriously, the guy wouldn’t return phone calls or texts from people he worked for/with for the past 7 years? You don’t have to like Stephen A. Smith (and I don’t) to believe that Lebron was all but certain he was gonna do this awhile ago. And if that’s true, Cleveland is now that much more boned because all that cap space isn’t going to attract squat now that even second-tier guys like Brendan Hayward (!) and David Lee are signed. You gonna throw 13 million at Jordan Farmar and Shannon Brown? Even the biggest LBJ apologist has to admit everything he did just boned the cavs with a doublefist.

    3) Poo pooing cavs fans for burning jerseys… would you rather they threw them all out instead? Let them dispose of their own property how they feel like, how about that? It’s not like they went rioting and burned down James’s house… yet. Seriously, the folks on Mt. Pious (ESPN) crying foul about some jersey burning are completely out of line. Totally within bounds. No cavs fan with any self-respect would keep his jersey after this, and those other people who follow LBJ and not the cavs are going to buy his heat jersey anyways. Where exactly is the harm in a little public displays of “F U”?

    4) It will be sooooooo funny to me if the cavs facilitate the Heat building their contender by dealing Lebron in an S&T. THAT would blow my mind, especially in light of the Gilbert letter.

    5) The money Lebron left on the table vis a vis the knicks or bulls is potentially game-changing now that they unloaded Beasley. It was going to be 500K apiece for the three of them, ie not enough to attract a good starter. But if they each start at say 13 instead of 15m… then we’re talking about something just over the midlevel. THAT would be potentially serious news.

  67. I agree that the Lebron made a good decision (assuming he doesn’t care that he’s always going to hear “he’s riding Wade’s coattails”, etc, even if he wins). Also as a fan, it’s exciting to have a chance to watch something like this unfold, which has never been tried before.

    I also agree the general reaction is overblown, just because people are acting like they just now noticed Lebron is an oblivious, self-involved douchebag. I mean, that wasn’t obvious when he dubbed himself “The King” before winning anything, or justified being a poor loser by saying “I’m a winner”? Of course he botched the breakup with Cleveland– he’s never shown any empathy or self-awareness whatsoever, and his advisors are his high-school hangers-on.

  68. I’m definitely not a salary-cap expert, so I’m assuming that article is correct. That said, there is something called the Trade Exception, which is what CLE and TOR would receive if they do a S&T.

    Traded Player Exception: If a team trades away a player with a higher salary than the player they acquire in return (we’ll call this initial deal “Trade #1″), they receive what is called a Traded Player Exception, also known colloquially as a “Trade Exception”. Teams with a trade exception have up to a year in which they can acquire more salary in other trades (Trade #2, #3, etc) than they send away, as long as the gulf in salaries for Trade #2, #3, etc are less than or equal to the difference in salary for Trade #1. This exception is particularly useful when teams trade draft picks straight-up for a player; since draft picks have no salary value, often the only way to get salaries to match is to use a trade exception, which allows trades to be made despite unbalanced salaries. It is also useful to compensate teams for losing free agents as they can do a sign and trade of that free agent to acquire a trade exception that can be used later. Note this exception is for single player trades only, though additional cash and draft picks can be part of the trade.

  69. I’m partly sad and excited by LBJ’s decision.
    Sad because there are going to be a lot of bad, really bad, teams… Excited because, even though they’re are our rivals, I’d like to see how they play together for 82 games plus playoffs. It is very unlikely they will average more than 20ppg each. I would like to see who comes out the top.

    One more thing, I don’t think LeBron can still be called the King now… how about “the Three Musketeers” xD

  70. @Blizzardof OZ
    I think there really were people who didn’t realize that until now… the majority of them either live in Cleveland or work for ESPN. ;)

    As Zephid said in comment no 5, Lakers fans have said it for years and been told we’re just bitter and jealous because he’s more popular than Kobe. I think the reaction to Lebron finally showing his true self to everyone is all the more over-blown because the ones who are over-reacting now know, deep down, that they should have realized this a long time ago.

  71. @Mimsy
    It’s called “Cognitive Dissonance”. It’s the concept that people have an inherent tendency to downgrade information that conflicts with our previously established viewpoints. It takes something jarring to make people change their views on something that they feel strongly about.

    The backlash you’re seeing on Lebron is partially driven out of genuine shock and disappointment by a large number of people who truly and honestly bought into the image that Lebron had created as a selfless, loyal, mature superstar who is a great teammate and cares only about winning.

    Lebron is who we all thought he was, but we’re not the people who are acting the most outraged right now. My level of feeling towards Lebron can generally be described as mild nausea by his performance the last two years and slight bittersweet glee that Lebron and Kobe are both now being seen in a very new light by a lot of people.

  72. A new post is up. A few thoughts on tonight’s summer league game, Lebron, and the future of the Heat.

    http://www.forumblueandgold.com/2010/07/09/fast-break-thoughts-67/

  73. For the guy who made the Skywalkers analogy earlier, I tweeted this yesterday (I used a swear word. Sue me.)

    https://twitter.com/TheLakersFreak/status/18059215401

  74. jodial,
    You forget that Kareem had Oscar Robertson on that Bucks team. – not exactly mincemeat as a teammate.

    There is another all-time bad guy (from the media’s perspective) that couldn’t win it all by himself; and he had more talent than Lebron – Wilt Chamberlain. The media absolutely hated this arrogant black man who loved dating white women (this was the 60′s) and flaunting it.

    When the media loves you, everything is forgiven (read Michael Jordan) and when they hate you nothing bad is forgotten, while nothing good is remembered (read Kobe Bryant or Wilt Chamberlain or Barry Bonds). Therefore, the one rule superstars have to remember is, make sure to kiss the media’s a**.

  75. J.D. Hastings July 9, 2010 at 2:43 pm

    Last night I didn’t watch the “special.” My tv was transfixed on the images from Oakland, next door to Berkeley and where many of my friends live. The events there made everything Lebron related seem so childish and unimportant.

    As a city mourned the tragic shooting of Oscar Grant, the TV coverage barely hid their desire to see it turn ugly, then turned the late actions of a comparatively small mob into the front page story this morning. (Look of the footage of the Footlocker looting. All you see is a circle of people holding cameras trying to get a shot of the spectacle).

    So as that spectacle unfolded I watched the live feed of a Cleveland Bar watching “the Decision.” As he announced Southbeach they were dissapointed, but it took a while for it to sink in before the boos came and they turned the show off.

    But I kept the feed on while taking in the twitter take and after a few minutes the bar was cheering every couple of minutes as they were shown footage of people burning Lebron Jerseys in efigy.

    Meanwhile on my TV Mayor Dellums and most protesters, while properly expressing their anger at the Mehserle trial, continued to ask for calm, peaceful demonstrations.

    As the night continued, the peaceful protesters broke up and the people interested mainly in causing trouble showed up, just like the riots in LA a few weeks ago were caused more by people trying to cause trouble than truly interested in the events of the day.

    Then Dan Gilbert released his tirade against the “selfish traitor.” Is it selfish to take less money somewhere else? Had lebron taken an oath of lifelong fealty to the organization? Criticize Lebron for the enormous ego and the tactless manner he delivered the blow. He didn’t shoot an unarmed man in the back.

    And even as that went on, Mo Williams had something of a breakdown on Twitter, as though being abandoned by his parent.

    All as the cops chased block to block through Oakland after a stupid mob a fraction of their strength dedicated to disruption for its own sake.

    It was a surreal night.

    I don’t know that I’m the guy to be making grand points about society, especially here, but books could be written about our society from just last night and the reactions to it.

  76. I think it made me see one thing and one thing only.

    LeBron cares about winning, but only to have his brand value increase, not because he enjoys basketball competition.

    The guy is aiming to become a sports billionaire first, champion second. It so happens that being a champion enhances his value, so he invested some guaranteed money in the venture, and that’s his decision.

    Can’t fault a guy for chasing dollars and ambitions other than basketball just because he is in his prime and is probably the best basketball specimen ever.

  77. I have to wholeheartedly disagree with this post.. most posters have already voiced their reasons why LBJ deserves much of the negativity for his cowardly choice, and I agree with them. I went from LBJ fan and supporter to a disappointed former fan in 10 minutes last night. He doesn’t have the heart of a champion, Wade does. It’s unfortunate he and Bosh may get a ring just because he’s riding Wade’s coat tails.

  78. I think this Lebron negativity – at least in regards to the choice he made, not in the manner that he delivered it – to be comical. Suddenly he’s a coward? For choosing to play with really good players instead of playing with lesser players where winning would be harder? I’m sorry, but that makes no sense. If you had the chance to work with some of the most talented people in your industry are you saying that you’d choose to go work with lesser talents? And this would be courageous in some way? And now he’ll be riding someone else’s coattails to a title? How can that possibly be said in advance of the games being played? What if it’s Lebron that has the other worldly stats and performances and he carries the Heat to a title while Wade falters or is injured or something else? Did he still get there on Wade’s coattails because Wade played for the Heat first?

    I’m sorry, but so much of this Lebron hate is coming off as petty by the fans of a team that has the player considered to be Jame’s chief rival in the game. While I’d never presumably be able to speak for Kobe, he was ready to leave the Lakers before Bynum blossomed and Gasol was acquired. If he was a free agent, he would have. The only difference is that Kobe’s Lakers at that time weren’t as good as the Cavs team that Lebron left. But Kobe wanted better teammates too and his front office got them/they developed. My point in my comment earlier is that do you think Lebron could actually trust the Cavs to do the same over the span of his next contract? I have my doubts cosidering the head coach in place, the roster flexibility, and (what is now clear) an owner that isn’t a guy I’d want to work for. So, tell me what Lebron did wrong here again. He went to a team that he thought gave him the best chance to win. That’s his call. Like I said, kill him for *how* he decided and delivered the message. But to say that he’s less a player or a person for choosing a situation where he’s got an up and coming coach, Wade and Bosh, a GM that is known to be very good at team building, and by all accounts one of the better owners in the league….I think that’s just pure hating. The type of hating that we Lakers fans go crazy over when it’s directed towards Kobe.

    EDIT: Also, yes I think Lebron is arrogant. Yes I think his ego is enourmous. And these are things that irk me when I watch him play. There are times where he’s a showboat and a front runner and it bothers me. But, those are personal things. When it comes to basketball, he’s a special talent and a great, great player. I can find holes in his game, but I can do that with every player. So, he’s not alone there. I’m still partial to Kobe, but that doesn’t mean I have to hate Lebron or try to tear him down to build up Kobe. They both stand on their own as fantastic players. I do think we’re extremely lucky to have had Kobe on the Lakers and will be until he retires. I can also say that if the Lakers had Lebron, I think we’d be pretty lucky due to that fact as well.

  79. @77

    I agree whole heartedly. I think whats happening here is a mirror image of whats happened to Kobe his whole career, namely, people coming up with ways to challenge his legacy before it’s even been written. The fascinating part for me, as a Laker fan and a long time Kobe supporter, is just how quickly the sports world has turned on Lebron. Right or wrong, Lebron is no longer going to be automatically considered great any more. That time has passed. From here on out it’s about delivering championships. Period.

    Up until now Lebron has been given a pass, with excuses like “he doesn’t have enough good players around him” and “his team would only win 30 games without him” deflecting any substantive criticism. This too is over. Regardless of merits, people will now hold him to account and scrutinize every little thing he does in exactly the opposite manner. His triumphs will be belittled and his failures will be exaggerated. This is the reality Kobe has lived with for some time now and this is why I’m truly surprised by what I’m hearing from Laker fans. We’ve experienced people doing this to Kobe for years now. To throw out statements like “he can never be in the Jordan conversation now” is disingenuous at best.

    Make no mistake, like Kobe, Lebron’s legacy will be written only after he has retired and what it turns out to be is anyones guess. However, there is no discounting what we have witnessed. The Lebron James that has been marketed for the past 7 years died yesterday. He went from hero to villain in the eyes of a great many fans and that will have long lasting repercussions the consequences of which are still to be determined.

  80. If I were in LeBron’s place, I would have made the same move. That’s the truth. He gets to play with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh (both friends of his), in Miami, for Pat Rile… er, Mike Spoelstra, with an obvious opportunity to win multiple championships. I do agree that he probably doesn’t have the personality to handle the sole responsibility of delivering a championship, but what the hey? Not everybody is wired like Jordan or Kobe. What I have a major problem with is the narcissistic, thoughtless way he stabbed Cleveland in the back on national TV, but that topic has already been discussed ad nauseum.

    As for LeBron’s ‘legacy’, you better believe if he wins a couple titles as Finals MVP he’ll vault his way into serious GOAT discussions. Phillip made a great point about how the NBA is driven by nostalgia and how success can airbrush away just about any controversy (just ask Kobe). The flip side is that, as kaos just articulated so perfectly, LeBron no longer gets a pass if he doesn’t deliver a title. Again, I think the fact that he’d rather take on that new pressure with Wade and Bosh alongside him than to try and beat them himself tells you that he isn’t quite the competitor Kobe is, but didn’t we already know that?

    I have to admit that as an NBA fan, I’m intrigued as to how this plays out. Two of the top three wing players in the league, both slashers used to monopolising the ball at the top of the key, both with gargantuan egos, teaming up in the prime of their careers? It’s absolutely unheard of, especially in the salary cap era.

  81. WOW!

    If I had the chance to play with Mo Williams & Antawn Jamison, or D Wade & Bosh, I would EASILY….HANDS DOWN…. play with Wade and Bosh.

    I don’t understand what is not crystal clear about that.

    The Bulls have a case, but wouldn’t you rather work and play ball with your friends who you have formed relationships with over the course of the years?

  82. I agree with Woj. Let’s face it. The regent’s marketing team probably pushed this graphic for the show on ESPN:
    http://www.sportsbusinessdaily.com/content/Image/07-08-2010/The-Decision.jpg

    If I had watched that show, I would have felt dirty.

  83. Sasha could be damn useful and efficient. On offense, he just can’t over-dribble, ’cause that’s where everything breaks down for him.

    He’s not somebody who can put the ball on the floor. Has to move off-ball for the quick catch-and-pop, catch-one-dribble-pop, catch-and-dish, catch-one-dribble-dish. PERIOD. To reiterate, PERIODDD.

    We already know he can play great pesky defense with all that energy and hustle. The guy can be one of the best sharp shooters in the league. The Lakers already know he’s probably the best 3pt shooter on the team.

    It’s so damned obvious. NO fancy bull crap coming from him. If he keeps it plain and simple, it’ll reduce his retarded turnovers and increase his shooting efficiency. As byproducts of this simple play, he’ll have increased confidence in himself and from teammates which leads to more touches and more shots, which leads to defenses respecting his shot, which frees up teammates down low for easy dishes, which results in Laker championship #17.

    Somebody, PLEASE, explain this to Sasha and the Lakers organization! Seriously, PLEASE!

  84. What’s interesting now, though, is what Lebron has to do to be considered among the all-time greats. If he goes on to win 4 rings with this threesome, how much will we value it? More than Duncan’s 4? If he wins 7, do we consider him more successful than Jordan? If him and Kobe both finish their careers with 5, who will generally be held in higher regard? Would a Heat three-peat mean as much to us as Jordan’s or Kobe/Shaq’s if it turns out that Lebron and Wade are far and away the best players in the league? If they breeze through the finals 4-0/4-0/4-0/4-0 in a few years, will we champion them as mentally superior to their peers or deride them for not pushing themselves to compete with each other?

    Its true that a threesome this powerful has rarely been seen in the NBA, and I’m curious to see how that will translate to the perceived value of their titles. It seems to me that the difficulty of obtaining the titles often defines their historical worth – and if the 2 premier players of the post-Kobe era (i.e. Wade and James) play on the same team, how does that change our perception of their success? In some way, that line of thinking seems to suggest that Wade and James’ place in history may be ultimately be defined by Howard, Durant, Rose, Melo, et al.

  85. So Lebron’s choices:

    1. stay in cleveland and hope that B. Scott and other players get better. He would be lauded for trying to win a ring on his own, with no guarantee of winning one.

    2. Go to miami, be teamed up with another star player, and an inside guy who is an allstar, take LESS MONEY, and have 20x better chance to win a championship.

    Now neither guarantees a championship, but 2 looks a lot better. Lets switch it around. Say Bosh signed with Cleveland and Wade left miami to join the cavs, would Wade be Lebron’s bitch? Makes no sense.

    I applaud them for agreeing to take less money and join each other on the same team. I mean, in this day and age where they look for max all the time (has kobe NOT taken the max?) is these guys checked their ego’s at the door and took less money to play with one another. That shocks me more than anything.

    That team will be good.

    Lakers in 6

  86. I just cant understand people saying LBJ made the right choice by ditching Cleaveland and going to Miami. They would argue that the cavaliers is a weak team and can never become contenders. Wow, do these people have amnesia or something? The past two sasons the Cavs was the winningest/ Top seeded team in the regular season winning more than 60 games. And prior to the start of the playoffs in both seasons the so called experts boldly predicted that the Cavs will win it all. Now I ask, did LBJ really left a weak team or a contender?

  87. And the comparison of Kobe wanting to be traded and LBJ leaving Cleaveland is misleading. Kobe was sorrounded by guys name Kwame, Smush and Cook at that time. On the otherhand, LBJ was sorrounded by all star players like Jamison, Mo williams, Zydrunas, and Shaq not to mention Varejao. Give those guys to Kobe on 2005 to 2007 and I assure you the Lakers would be competing for the Finals. LBJ’s athleticism maybe greater than Kobe but Kobe’s heart cannot be equalled.

  88. Yeah…I hate to say it, but this article leaves a bad taste in my mouth. You can’t defend this guy’s actions. The ESPN debacle is disgusting.

    It’s ridiculous to me when people justify inexcusable behavior by calling it “just business”.

    It’s one thing for Kobe to want to “tear Philly’s heart out” by beating them in the Finals. It’s something else entirely to tear out your own team’s heart by jumping ship and being too cowardly to discuss it man to man with the people you’re stabbing. Since when is that OK?

    And while Gilbert’s “tirade” might seem a little over the top…is it really all that “comical”? You surround the guy with enough talent to be championship contenders and to end back to back seasons with the best record…and then he just ditches without a phone call, a text, anything?

    If this were just about winning, then I could see the defense–it’s a rare type of player who would rather take a chance on losing with inferior players, than winning with better ones— but it’s not about Lebron’s decision…it’s about how he made it and what he left in his wake. This is what selfishness does. It hurts people. And this is what our plastic, self-involved, shallow culture has promoted for too long. To me, this anti-Lebron backlash is wonderful. It restores my faith that people still believe there’s a right and wrong way to do things. I hope Lebron’s jersey sales plummet and he becomes the biggest Heel in the NBA. I hope he gets booed and taunted in every arena. He deserves every bit of it.

  89. I think people have it all wrong when they validate things with the sweeping statement ‘its all about winning’. Sport isn’t all about winning, whilst winning is very important, how you win carries far greater weight.

    We all love sport and the NBA because we like to see the best at what they do compete against each other to determine whose the best team/player, to be entertained and to have our hopes fulfilled or dashed. Yes, our hopes dashed and this the real important part… would we watch sport as religiously as we do if we knew the outcome was more or less a forgone conclusion?

    Would we dedicate 6 months of our time every year if we knew how it would end?

    Think of it like this, would you rather watch an NBA Finals series between two equally matched teams or watch the Harlem Globetrotters pound on the Washington Generals one more time?

    Now, don’t get me wrong, in no way, shape, or form am I saying Miami are champions elect for the next 5 years, and that neither the Lakers, Celtics, Magic or even the Bulls and the Thunder could stop the trio from getting their hands on the Larry O’Brien trophy. What I am trying to highlight is that all three of these guys (not just LeBron although him and Wade to a far greater extent with both the Bulls and Clippers having loaded rosters on offer) are thinking they are taking the easy out. ‘If i join up with these guys, not only do I not have to beat them along the way, it will be far easier to beat the other guys.’

    Ask yourself this would you rather see the best players with complementary team mates compete real hard as they go head to head, or watch them all join up on one team just so winning becomes easier and they don’t have to compete as much?

    What the ‘Miami Thrice’ have done here is a complete cop out and just highlights their lack of competitive nature and understanding of what sport is and what we love about it.

    My real fear here is that if they do win multiple championships, barring some change to the free agency rules, the growing player power leads to future Harlem Globetrotter teams being formed as players get tired of competing against each other and just join up so the competition becomes weaker.

  90. I’ll begin with this fact that this was probably the worst marketing decision ever made.

    Jim Grey should have his body attached to a wall with a nail inside his neck for the absurd questions he was asking (metaphorically speaking, of course).

    As for LeBron’s decision itself, I have no problem with him going somewhere else. The matter he went about doing it is what deserves every bit of criticism.

    Dan Gilbert has every right to be upset and so does the city of Cleveland. But to publicly rip someone’s morals and ethics because a business decision is unprofessional and about as classless as what everyone is saying LeBron did.

    As for the city of Cleveland, they only have themselves to blame. To worship someone the way they did, they were just setting up themselves for disappointment when their desired results weren’t achieved.

    Is LeBron’s legacy set in stone because of this? No, of course not. However, it is definitely fair to point out that anything he achieves will be credited to being a part of the “Superteam” (Miami Heat) and will never be “his.”

    I hear that Dwayne Wade looks like the “Jordan” figure of this entity. For anyone who believes that, you couldn’t be more wrong. Wade is a part of the “Superteam” just as much as LeBron and Bosh. Miami will always be “Wade’s City,” true (he was there first), but all successes and failures the team endures will be accredited as a team.

    I know that arrogant jerk Kobe Bryant is laughing somewhere as he has once again thwarted another rival in the “Who’s the greatest” competition, ironically not having done anything. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a Kobe hater. In fact, it’s because he’s an arrogant jerk is why he is a 5 time NBA champion, one the greatest to ever play the game, and someone who shut up all of his critics from talking about what he couldn’t do, Shaq.

    Although I have mixed feelings in seeing if the formation of the “Superteam” is good for the NBA in the long run, it was great for the NBA to be as heavily exposed as it was during its offseason, even if we were really only talking about LeBron.

    I think LeBron made the right decision. He could have done a better job of managing the decision making process, and, in my opinion, he should have stayed in Cleveland. But he did “what was best for LeBron James.” Apparently, he feels that it is (in his) best (interest) to go to Miami where he can compete for a championship every year.

    I am a fan of LeBron James and I do want to see him succeed. It’s just disappointing that we won’t get to see him achieve (what I think is) his maximum potential.

    I do hope that he understands the repercussions of everything he’s done. At the end of the day, he has no one to blame but himself.