~Four years after Lebron James left Cleveland for Miami, then winning two NBA championships and multiple MVP awards, there is talk, believe it or not, of James (who is now a free-agent) returning to the Cavs. Here’s what I wrote in frustration the day after the nationally televised “Decision.”
“The Decision”: Lebron Decides, Cleveland Cries
July 9, 2010
Dr. Mark S. Latkovic
Well, after so much self-promotional drama and suspense, Lebron James made his decision in prime time on ESPN. It basically amounts to assembling an “all-star team,” a “dream team” in Miami – something he seems to have had in the works since playing with Wade and Bosch in the Beijing Olympics and then playing like a guy who’s trying to “throw” a game in game 5 of the playoffs against Boston this year. He says what he does is a “business.” But then he says it’s about “winning championships.” Which is it? This we can say with certainty: It’s surely not about loyalty to a franchise and a city that gave him not only cheers, but also a throne befitting a basketball king. That might sound quant to him, but it’s true.
The whole matter really seems to be about Lebron and Lebron only. As he said at the announcement – in truth, really an overblown spectacle – Thursday night: He has to do what’s best for him, what will make him happy. In Lebron’s case, free agency was not about the money. But so what! Why pat him on the back for that, as some are doing? Lebron will still probably get near 100 million for 5 years with the Heat. So those commentators saying that King James overturned the usual expectation that free agents are simply greedy for the money are wrong to commend him. No, I don’t think that Lebron James gets brownie points for that “sacrifice.”
But it’s not about the love of the game either, I believe, despite how much James talks of competing and winning in the sport of basketball. Sadly, in the end, it’s a business, as he says, and the “business” is Lebron. Thus, his words of sorrow for leaving Cleveland after 7 years ring hollow, just as much as they looked hollow when he said them. Lebron has moved on. It seems that he wants to buy his way to an NBA title. You see, he’s feeling a bit desperate now, with Kobie Bryant’s 5 rings and Michael Jordan’s 6 rings to cloud his legacy. He’s feeling the pressure. But true basketball fans – at least those in Cleveland – won’t be fooled by any future trophies and banners on display in South Beach. They’ll be monuments to “narcissism,” to borrow a word from Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert’s open letter to Cleveland fans. As for me, I’ll still be rooting for Cleveland – even more now…especially when you know who comes to town.