I have made a decision. I just thought you should know that.
Oh you want to know what I decided? No, of course you don’t. Too bad, I’m telling you anyways. I decided that I’m going to really work at writing regularly. We’ll see how long it lasts. Over/under is currently 2 weeks. I’d take the under if I were you.
So let’s get to it. Biggest story of the summer: The LeBacle (hands down my favorite name for the insanity that surrounded LeBron this summer). Quick story: I used to LOVE basketball. I’m a Bulls fan and I grew up in the 90’s otherwise known as the Jordan/Pippen Era. It was a magical time. I watched two hall of famers get coached by one of the best coaches ever in Phil Jackson (some would argue THE best). Then, they left the Bulls and the league seemed to fall apart. I’m not totally sure why. I guess these things are just cyclical. Anyways I gravitated to college ball as it was just a better product. Maybe because the top high schoolers jumped straight to the pros and that forced the colleges to build stronger teams instead of just relying on a stud or two. Then LeBron happened. Suddenly this likable kid who just might be the real deal was on his way to the league. He would save it. Being one of the most ardent defenders of Jordan’s legacy, I refused to allow anyone to be mentioned in the same breath as him…until LeBron. I believed.
Flash forward to 2010. LeBron’s antics were starting to wear thin on me (the pregame stuff, acting like a general fool on the bench), but I let it go because hey, he’s 25. He’s a kid. He doesn’t really have any structure around him because Mike Brown isn’t about to stand up to his only star. I could justify it. When LeBron’s impending free agency was upon us, I thought he would either stay in Cleveland or go to Chicago. That’s it. Those were the only options. The case for each was pretty simple:
Cleveland: stay at home with the franchise that you saved and finish what you started. LeBron had all the leverage. He could get whatever coach he wanted, whatever GM he wanted, and if he agreed to take less money they probably could’ve landed some crop along the lines of David Lee/Ray Allen/Kyle Korver/Ronnie Brewer/J.J. Redick and maybe Carlos Boozer. Probably not Bosh because he made it pretty clear he was going to be Dwayne Wade’s lapdog. Now, I admit that Lee/Allen/Korver/Brewer/Redick doesn’t make a championship automatic, but combine them with some of the pieces they already have (Hickson, Mo Williams, Varejao) and you’ve got something. Especially with Boston making their way over the hill and Orlando lacking the ability to take that next step to elite status.
Chicago: Easy choice if you want to win immediately. Add LeBron to a team with Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson, and Luol Deng? Yeah, game over. I mean, what else do you want me to say here?
Now, I don’t think anyone would have blamed LeBron for leaving Cleveland. He killed himself the year they went to the Finals and promptly got handled by San Antonio because a good team will beat one great player every time. Ask Michael Jordan about the Pistons before Scottie got there. But the way LeBron left? Pathetic.
You get ESPN to give you an uninterrupted hour of prime time and you use it to rip the heart out of your home? Shame on you LeBron. And shame on ESPN for facilitating it. I was disappointed in his immaturity. I was disappointed that he took the easy way out by going to Miami with Wade and Bosh. I was really disappointed that he didn’t seem to care at all about what he just did. He talked in the third person and he never really showed regret.
The backlash began. Sport Illustrated ran a great piece that I thought accurately and fairly destroyed LeBron, Bosh, and Wade. If I could find it, I would link to it. Talk radio, blogs, even ESPN made fun of the “I’m taking my talents to South Beach” line. One show I heard very astutely pointed out that the first photo would be telling. Photo positioning is a big deal. Your eyes will naturally go to the center and work out, so photographers will put the most important part of the picture in the center (hence: center of attention). They thought that there would be three versions with each player in the middle, and maybe those other versions exist, but this is what SI ran…
Quick side note: if you can find it online, read that piece by Ian Thomsen. It is excellent.
Like I said, the middle is what matters and it’s Wade. But note how small LeBron looks. Where is his trademark ear-to-ear grin? I think this picture is the beginning of LeBron realizes he may have messed up. No matter what Wade will have one more ring than LeBron. No matter what, LeBron ran to Wade’s team because he couldn’t handle being the man. That will forever be his legacy. Win a title in Cleveland, you enter the air with Michael, Magic, Bird, and Kobe. But I guess that doesn’t matter to him. And Lebron? We don’t care how many tweets you send out telling us you’re taking mental notes about every single person who takes a shot at you. An adult lives with the consequences of their decisions. You want to be the man? Act like one first.