Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Day The King Died

So that decision is over and LeBron is off to the Miami Heat.

Some of the Facebook and Twitter posts I see range in tenacity, but they all say basically the same thing:

-It's easy to root against LeBron now
-Real competitors don't go to a superstar team to win
-The very short and sweet "F*ck you LeBron."

I'm guessing that's the just of the messages originating anywhere outside of Miami. I know this whole extravaganza has just been beaten to death, so I'll try to be short and sweet.

#1: ESPN is now officially a joke. What a pathetic display of "journalism." They spent an hour lofting softballs at LeBron so he could have his little one hour not variety hour. That made me sicker than ESPN usually makes me. Every person involved in that should go apologize to Edward R. Morrow tonight. It was fitting the Stuart Scott lead that thing.

#2: Let's get everything straight with what we're complaining about. Most people bitch about how athletes just follow the money wherever they go. This is not that case. This move was made to win championships. Remember that the next time you whine about a guy following the money.

Here are my conclusions:

LeBron is no longer the King. The King doesn't worry about joining other superstars to ensure a championship. Jordan stuck with the same team and it took him years to win. Then he won six. Hakeem spent years missing championships. He got his two at the end of his career. But it was his team. The Bad Boys were together for years before they got their two. Guys who won early like Magic, Bird, and Duncan got lucky enough to be drafted by teams that were ready to go.

What LeBron has done is effectively take the alpha out of his male. He's no longer the guy you build a team around because he can't handle being a foundation. He's not strong enough.

It's funny because LeBron kept talking about his legacy. His decison was made because he wanted to have his championship legacy. Well, maybe he'll get a ring, maybe he'll get several. It won't matter, his legacy is already tarnished. He couldn't hack it alone. He'll never live that down no matter how many rings he gets.

This is a guy who was given everything in Cleveland. Don't like what the G.M. is doing? He's gone. Don't trust the coach? See ya Mike Brown! Cleveland fans hung on his every word (which I'd think would be a plus for a man of that ego.) He was the hometown kid; whatever he wanted within reason would have been given to him. He was the man. Not for the Cavs, but for the entire city.

And it wasn't enough that LeBron just left Cavs fans out to dry. He had to call a one hour ego-fest to let Cleveland know that he didn't think he could be successful there. Imagine getting dumped by your hot boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse via cable television. They couldn't just leave you a note. They had to embaress you too.

Now James lies with Art Modell in the catacombs of Cleveland sports. He's reviled and he won't be forgiven soon by the jilted fan base. He was their shining light and he lit them on fire.

Look, it's a free country, but when you make the money these guys do, I think you have a civic duty to a city that drafts you. It doesn't always work out and I'm in no way saying guys should be stuck with whatever team that drafted them. But James had everything he wanted in Cleveland and he still left them. And he strung along fans while he did so.

This sets a dangerous precedent. Future stars may see this move as their chance to manufacture a championship. It goes against every priciple of sports competiton.

And what happens to teams located in places like Utah and Sacramento? Obviously, Cleveland doesn't have as much to offer as a South Beach for a young hip-hop guy like LeBron. Neither do places like Indianapolis or Milwaukee. They aren't bad cities and they have great basketball fans, but they just aren't big night scenes that young, rich guys might like. So should the Kings, Bucks, Pacers, Jazz, and others just pack up shop?

Tonight was a sad night that struck most people as a complete farce and insult to the competitive spirit of professional sports. While this might be a low moment, have no fear. Kevin Durant quietly signed an extention with the Oklahoma City Thunder. No bells and whistles, no hour long specials, not even a big market. The Thunder are young and talented. You now have your anti-Heat to root for, the ying to the Heat's yang.

Go Thunder.