LeBron owed Cleveland one thing he didn’t give them, a more classy and appropriate way of saying goodbye. That’s it.
LeBron didn’t owe anything more to the city, the team, or the organization. He played in Cleveland for six years. Contrary to what some believe, Lebron never quit on the team, he never called out his inferior teammates, and he gave 100 percent every time he took the floor. He made the organization, the city, and the NBA innumerable millions of dollars.
He did the best he possibly could have with the poor cast of players Cavs management surrounded him with. He took a team that didn’t deserve to be there to the NBA Finals, won two MVP trophies, and got to the playoffs in five out of six years.
LeBron, like any other competitor in any other sport, wants to win. He gave the organization in Cleveland plenty of chances to put a good team, or at least another good player, around him, and it didn’t. Its idea of a key addition last year was an aging and past his prime Shaquille O’Neil. Shaq? Really?
It’s not a shock at all that LeBron left. He’s the best player in the game and he wants to win. Yes, he’s only 25, but he came into the league at 18; he has been falling short in Cleveland for too long. He can’t possibly stay in a dead-end organization and be forced to win everything by himself with no help.
I’ve already heard the argument, ‘If he is a real superstar, he should be able to win a championship on his own without the help of other great players around him.’
In years past — Bird had Ainge and McHale; Magic had Kareem; MJ had Pippen.
In current years — Kobe had a younger version of Shaq, and now has Gasol; the Celtics have “The Big Three,” which we may now have to start referring to as “The Little Three.”
You need more than one great player to win an NBA Championship. With the playoff system requiring teams to win four seven-game series to hoist the trophy, it’s just too hard to do alone.
And what, is he supposed to stay in Cleveland because he was born there? What kind of argument is that? Paul Pierce is from L.A. but if he left Boston to play for the Lakers would people get upset? I think so.
Look, it was a good story; hometown phenom stays and plays for hometown team. It was great, everyone was ecstatic and it was a great story. It worked out in a lot of ways, but not the one way that is most important to James. The winning way.
He said going into free agency he was going to go to a place where he has the best chance to win. No one can argue that teaming up with Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami is not LeBron’s best chance to win.
This is where LeBron went all wrong.
LeBron informed the audience that, of the six teams he was considering, he contacted one, the Miami Heat. He did not have the common courtesy to call—let alone sit down with—his old team to inform them he was parting ways, and in turn reducing the franchise to ruins.
The Cavaliers got official word of Lebron’s exit at the same time as the 9.95 million viewers tuned in to watch the hour-long ESPN dog and pony show.
“The Decision” put Lebron’s inconsideration for others and arrogance at center stage. The size of James’ ego has been well documented in the past but this act may have brought it to the next level.
If it sounds like I’m changing my stance, I’m not. I reiterate, Lebron had every right to leave the Cavs and play wherever he so pleased; he should have no longer felt any responsibility to the city or the organization that he gave six great years of his professional career to, and no one should blame him for longing to suppress his hunger for capturing the finals trophy that eluded him in Cleveland.
He does not deserve the response from fans that were shown burning his jersey. He does not deserve the outlandish hate letter drafted by the Cavs owner Dan Gilbert’s saying Lebron “betrayed” and “deserted” the team—then again Gilbert also said, “I personally guarantee that the Cleveland Cavaliers will win an NBA Championship before the self-titled former ‘King’ wins one,” so maybe people stopped reading the letter after that. What LeBron may deserve is the major hit his public perception has taken over the handling of this event.
There was no need for the hour-long show, basically just displaying LeBron’s ever-growing ego, and there was no need for Lebron not to tell the Cavs himself he wouldn’t be coming back, which displayed his selfish ‘I do what I want’ attitude.
This is the light Lebron James is now shown in. This is the reason he will go from being respected across the league to being hated by 29 cities and loved by one, which will excusive his poor behavior as—and I’ll be the first to reference it—as “LeBron being LeBron.”
The balance of power in the NBA has shifted, and with it the perception of its best player has been tarnished, but if the fearsome threesome live up to its potential and wins one, or two, or even three rings down in South Beach, something tells me Lebron may not care one bit.