Ever seen a crowd in a petrified town nervous about the status of a gifted athlete, dignified for rejuvenating an insubstantial franchise in his hometown?
The enthusiastic fans are suddenly glancing at reality, with the possibility of LeBron James departing Ohio and signing his signature with a rebuilding team in a high-market city this summer in free agency.
A day doesn’t pass without speculation of James' future within an association of big-name superstars and traditional franchises having the upper advantage because of depth, size, heart, and experience.
The mental state of presumably a devastating ending for James’ regime in Cleveland dooms a beleaguered and embarrassed sports town after a long-lasting calamity absorbs a curse.
When an athlete brainwashes us with Nike ads and puppet commercials and is named NBA’s Most Valuable Player back-to-back, it creates an ego and elevates fame, including an uncertain legacy. Ever since he bypassed college hoops for the pros, he was pampered by his hometown and given the nickname "King”.
He has become the global icon and the worldwide figure, admired for his popularity and creativity in a game he has emerged as the biggest event. His enthralling dunks and distributions of making his teammates more effective symbolizes all things the league advertises.
All of which he’s worshipped more than the average athlete, and has even solidified fame by winning individual awards, but is still devoid of a championship, faltering in critical games and relinquishing at the worst possible time.
So now, the worried people in Cleveland are holding their collective breaths, uneasy and concerned about James’ future.
Suddenly, the global superstar of the Cleveland Cavaliers has become the biggest curiosity in sports. And to think we debated, with much conviction on his next destination, it’s unpredictable where he’ll land come July 1.
Any team can bid, but only a few seem sensible and worth negotiating with. To name a few: Maybe he’ll sign with the Knicks, Heat, Bulls, or even the hapless Nets and be a part of the rebuilding project.
That way he’ll be doing his good friend Jay-Z a favor by representing New Jersey and rejuvenating a franchise once again, even though that would be stepping backwards.
Sometimes we need a change of scenery and he definitely is ready for a change to reduce heart breakers, after falling short each year in the postseason. Once again, his facial expression revealed disappointment and disgust, but this time he hugged and congratulated the Celtics when the buzzer sounded.
He walked towards the tunnel and tossed his headband into the stands, a moment when the world pondered and admittedly were convinced that his future with the Cavs ended.
If there are believers who thinks he’ll leave, Boston fans are among many believing he’ll not return next season. Late in the fourth quarter as time dwindled, the crowd chanted “New York Knicks! New York Knicks!”
It’s only common to believe that James won’t re-sign with the Cavs this summer after an agonizing ending left him distraught in one of the biggest collapses, adding to the nightmarish droughts and deterioration in a town with downcast moments. That was The Shot, The Drive, The Fumble, and The Choke—and now the LeChoke.
Unfair as it seems to point the fingers at LeBron, the fingers must point directly at Mike Brown, whose coaching philosophy descended and failed emphasizing enough energy or urgency this postseason.
He’s definitely a name on the hot seat this offseason. But a week ago, his job security seemed unharmed when the Cavs had a commanding 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series against Boston. Aside from the temporary destruction of Boston, Cleveland dropped three consecutive games by a combined 51 points and abolished in a 94-85 elimination loss in Game Six to the Boston Celtics.
James, who scored 22 points on 36.8 percent shooting, walked out of the interview room reflecting back on a lousy, dreary performance.
From his unpleasant facial expressions, he revealed a furious stare and appeared burnt out of the meltdowns, willing to call it a career with the Cavs and try to surmount to triumph elsewhere. He exposed his own weaknesses when he attempted ill-advised jump shots and missed, but in the series he was forced to take outside and midrange jumpers as the Celtics shut down and trapped the interior with a deeper defensive mindset.
Pathetically, James' squad was horrible defensive-wise and never had an answer for a speedy Rajon Rondo, who harassed the Cavs and dictated the flow fundamentally. Forty-eight days away of becoming a free agent, his availability is valuable to numerous franchises.
He fittingly would be a good addition in Chicago, where he’ll be surrounded with a flowering supporting cast and the talent of Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah.
He could even unite with Dwyane Wade and build a forceful nucleus in South Beach. Or magnetize the business lifestyle and urban cities of New York, becoming the biggest attraction on Broadway and titillate Madison Square Garden.
Better, the Knicks fans have falling in love with James each time he stepped onto the hardwood in the world’s most prestigious venue. Previously, he has awed the fans with his mesmerizing spectacles, while the fans implored that James sign when he’s available. Each time, he was welcomed with warm receptions, and endeared for his spectacular display.
Wherever James ends up, he’ll have to come with urgency and determination unlike his lackluster performance of late.
He rarely commits turnovers, but turned it over nine times for his reckless and mindless muffs with the ball, at times overly dribbling or making risky passes in traffic and near white jerseys. But more staggering was that he carelessly quit on his team and his native town.
He mentally stopped playing and hustling, an uncharacteristic result and relied on his shaky supporting cast instead of demanding the ball and seizing the spotlight in a pivotal game. And it cost the Cavs. Maybe he was really injured after all, feeling the soreness in his damaged elbow.
In Cleveland, the fans are mourning and moistened by the agonizing defeat to Boston.
So, does he leave?
“I’m going to approach this summer with the right mindset,” James said. “With me and my team, we’re going to figure out what’s the best possibility for me. I love the city of Cleveland of course—the city and the fans. It was a disappointing season to say the least, but at the same time we had a great time together. So we’ll see what happens.”
He missed 13 of his 21 field-goal attempts and almost made it a quadruple-double with nine turnovers. As for his legacy, James will solidify his reputation by leaving Cleveland.
There’s many with suspicion as to whether the elbow injury softened his capabilities of playing with energy and toughness in which he wasn’t nearly imposing, but instead left the world in a mystery.
The collapse may force a distraught owner Dan Gilbert to fire Brown and dismiss general manager Danny Ferry. In the offseason, the Cavs will probably upgrade its roster. But for now, the entire town is crestfallen and James may depart in an unhappy ending and leave a city in dismay.
Farewell to the King.
He’s leaving for good.