Red Right 88

Cleveland sports fan and sports writer

Location: Cleveland, Ohio, United States

quit my job decided to drive west

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

If LeBron stays

I have imagined this moment many times over the last few years. And it is nothing like I expected.
During the majority of that time, I always knew LeBron James would resign with the Cavs and this would be much ado about nothing.
Yet I relished the thought of taunting those in New York and the mainstream media that assumed Cleveland had no shot at retaining “The King.”
They believed New York was the end all and be all. In fact that was the only argument they had. Well it’s New York.
Of course had the Cavs actually won a title, in my mind he would have been free to go. More than I once I have said if James had brought one title to Cleveland, I would drive him to New York himself.
Today was supposed to be a day of unbridled joy and a little vindictive payback.
Instead I have an empty feeling and the thought of be careful what you wish for.
For me LeBron’s tenure in Cleveland is tale of two pairs of game five and sixes.
The fourth quarter of game five against the Pistons in 2007 was moment I never thought I would experience. It was breath taking. It was so unexpected and so beyond what I thought possible – I almost didn’t remember to enjoy it. I was in pure shock. Which of course made game six of that same series so much fun.
As Boobie dropped shot after shot, it was the best party of my life. It was such a magical night that promised so much more that the loss in the Finals to the Spurs didn’t hurt at all. I believed a title would one day be won.
But the contrast of that was game five and six this year against the Celtics. Again I saw something I never expected. “The King” quit. His teammates took his lead and quit too.
In that moment, I quit on him too.
I have been mad the last several weeks. I wanted to write a column telling him to leave town forever. I want to vent and stew and say just go. But I resisted mostly because if he resigned, I knew the first time he did something on the court no one else could do I couldn’t help but forgive him.
The frank truth is LeBron’s ego has been the biggest detriment to Cavs returning to the Finals. His desire to be wined and dined by New York, Chicago and Miami has hurt this team. LeBron has seemed to be more about drawing media attention to himself than winning.
Danny Ferry lost his job because of LeBron’s inability to commit to the future. It forced Ferry’s hand in Shaq and Jamison trades and led Mike Brown to a roster he was uncomfortable with. Any fault with the construction of this current Cavs team starts with LeBron wanting to test free agency.
Contrast that with Kevin Durant’s quiet announcement to resign early with Oklahoma City. Durant’s lack of ego will help his general manager Sam Presti form a roster to move the Thunder closer to the NBA elite.
LeBron painted the Cavs into a corner but I think he did himself no favors. By flirting with the big markets, he has lost a lot of credibility.
New Yorkers will say he couldn’t handle the bright lights and the pressure cooker press they have.
Chicago will say he couldn’t fill Jordan’s shoes, as they believe they have a roster that gave him the best chance to win a title. Miami will say he doesn’t care about titles because he would have won multiple titles there if wasn’t afraid of giving Wade the credit.
And had he left his hometown on national TV, the entire world would have viewed him as a heartless fiend of the worst order.
Because of his choice to be wooed and his desire to the most famous person in the world, LeBron gave himself no good choice.
Whatever his decision, outside of the team he played for and bandwagon fans that follow the famous, he has made himself the most hated player in the NBA.
In the end he took the money and stayed home. We don’t know if it was because he didn’t want to be the second banana. We don’t know if it was because he couldn’t bear to be hated at home.
But I doubt it is because he wants to bring us a title. I am not sure it is something he is even capable of.
I hope I am wrong. And I hope come November the first time he throws the hammer down, I am back on board because right now I have my doubts.