King James Has A New Court

July 09, 2010 | Chad Lamasa

So LeBron is a Heat? First of all, I hate team names that are singular. But that’s a topic for another day.
Before I woke up on Thursday, I was convinced that he was going to stay in Cleveland, but all day long I was hearing he was going to the Heat. So it wasn’t that a big a shock at 9:30 eastern time Thursday night.
I don’t begrudge him leaving the Cavaliers. He was a free agent. Which means he’s FREE to go where he wants. People are banging on him for wanting money. For turning his back on his home town and state. For being a coward. For not giving the Cavs the opportunity to bring the pieces in to help him win.
Let’s look at these four things individually.
MONEY – The NBA actually has this right. They reward players for staying with the team that drafted them or that they are currently with, by allowing them more years on the contract and more money.
Obviously, money wasn’t a mitigating factor in his leaving.
LEAVING HIS HOMETOWN/STATE – I get the fans are upset that he’s leaving. The only thing I can equate this to in Baltimore would be Cal Ripken going to the Yankees in the prime of his career.
I would have been horribly upset, but I hope that I would have handled it better than the fans in Cleveland did.
Burning his jersey? Really?
Instead of bashing him for abandoning the franchise, how about looking back at what he’s done to help that franchise?
The season before his rookie season, the Cavs won 17 games. Thus, putting them in the lottery, which they won and were able to draft LeBron.
His rookie season they won 35 games. That’s double the wins in one season. The next year they won 42 games. His third season (2005-2006) they won 50 games for the first time since the 1992-93 season.
In 2006-2007, LeBron basically took them to the NBA finals (the first in franchise history), by himself.
He took a laughing stock team and turned them into a perennial contender. More importantly, he made the team relevant. Good luck with that now.
BEING A COWARD – LeBron could have stayed in a situation that he was comfortable and familiar with. To me that may have been a more cowardly move. He’s taking a chance. Going to a city he has no ties to. Joining two other superstars. Taking less money. Going to a team that has four players under contract as of right now.
Which brings me to…
PIECES AROUND HIM – LeBron resigned with the Cavs three years ago. That was his way of saying, I’m going to stay but you need to bring the pieces in to at least get us back to the finals.
Whom did they bring in? An over the hill Shaq. An injury prone Antawn Jamison. Delonte West, Joe Smith, Wally Szczerbiak, Ben Wallace, Mo Williams, and others. None of these guys are Scottie Pippen to his Michael Jordan.
If these are the pieces they have brought in why would LeBron assume they would do better now?
He wants a ring and he doesn’t think he can get one in Cleveland.
Cavaliers owner, Dan Gilbert called LeBron’s decision “A Cowardly Betrayal”. As well as promising to win a title before LeBron does. This is a bit ridiculous. He’s acting like a spoiled child, that isn’t getting his way.
If Gilbert is so big on loyalty, why did he fire Mike Brown who won 60+ games in back to back seasons for the Cavaliers? Why did he force Danny Ferry out of the GM position? Why did he bash LeBron for a poor performance in the playoffs this year? Hell, why are the teams he owns in Ohio, instead of his native Michigan?
He acts like LeBron owes him for giving him a chance to play in the league. It’s not like he went undrafted, and Gilbert took a chance by inviting him to play on their summer league team. I’m pretty sure every other team in the league would have taken him with the first overall pick if they were lucky enough to have it in the 2003 draft
How does Dan Gilbert think he will win a title before LeBron does? He couldn’t win with arguably the best player in the league. Without him? They fall right back to the bottom of the east.
Not to mention agents are now saying their clients won’t be heading there. With the pieces he has now and not being able to bring in new players it won’t happen.
Maybe the hour long TV special was a bit of overkill. However, he did raise five million dollars to give to the Boys and Girls Clubs, in five cities, one of which is Akron, Ohio. As well as five scholarships from University of Phoenix to help kids further their education. So I have no problem with that.
And maybe LeBron should have let Gilbert know his decision before he broadcast it to the world. However, owners trade or cut players all the time without consulting them about it. So that’s a bit hypocritical. Maybe the reason he didn’t call him is because of this exact reaction.
LeBron gave the Cavs seven years of his career and now he feels it’s time to move on. He is free to make that decision. I could tell by his facial expressions and mannerisms, during the show, that it was a very difficult decision to make. In the long run he has to do what he thinks is best for him and his family, and if that’s “…Taking my talents to South Beach”, then more power to him.
Good Luck LeBron.