The basketball apocalypse in Cleveland is nearing.
We are now hours away from maybe one of the biggest backstabbings in NBA history and my biggest question is the following: Does LeBron James even care?
Yes, I know reports have said that he is struggling with leaving his hometown, where he grew up, and the city that has treated him like a son for seven years.
I think those reports are total BS. I think he couldn't care less.
You don't hold an hour-long spectacle in freakin' Greenwich, CT if you really care about a city. Unless LeBron announces tonight that he is staying in Cleveland, I can't imagine a bigger slap in the face to a fanbase, ever.
The problem is, LeBron is only looking out for No. 1. Which, in this case, is himself.
While I have thoroughly enjoyed the past two weeks of mayhem, rumors, media circus, and twitter frenzy, I don't have a dog in this fight. I'm a die-hard Mavericks fan who only cared about my team re-signing Dirk Nowitzki.
If Cleveland was my basketball team, I couldn't imagine the torment that LeBron had put me through.
This one-hour TV special is shaping up to be a complete and total joke.
I don't blame ESPN for agreeing to air it because the network is looking to make money and this will do exactly that. Make no mistake, ratings are going to explode for this.
LeBron standing up in front of the nation to announce his decision is an embarrassment to himself. Not only that but the enormous amount of pressure he is about to put on himself as a result of this media charade is going to be like nothing we've ever seen before.
I think his ego has led him into a state of utter delusion.
He doesn't realize what this makes him look like, he doesn't realize the effect this is having on his fans, and he especially doesn't realize the pressure he has put on himself.
By making the past two weeks this reality TV-like drama centering on a self-absorbed egomaniac, LeBron has thrust himself into the biggest pressure-packed scenario any athlete has ever been involved in.
If he does indeed go to Miami, he has to win a championship. If he doesn't, he will go down as an enormous failure.
If he indeed teams up with Dwyane Wade's team (and make no mistake about it, Miami is Wade's team) the expectations on the Heat will be for a title. Anything less will be seen as a total choke job.
Wade can survive that because he's won a championship. Chris Bosh can survive it because he's not a superstar.
The pressure to win a title will fall on the the shoulders of LeBron, which is ironic because he may not even be the alpha-dog of that squad.
By parading around on every media network, joining Twitter, publicizing his Web site, and especially taking one hour to make an announcement that should take 15 minutes, LeBron has essentially agreed to take the pressure of winning a title to a different level.
For the record, I don't have a huge issue with him leaving Cleveland for anywhere but Miami.
In New York, he would have the chance to revitalize one of the best basketball cities in the country, and lead a downtrodden franchise to the promised land (a la Michael Jordan with the Bulls in the late 80s).
If he shows up on Chicago's team, they will win titles. Multiple titles, no questions asked. Derrick Rose is going to be a perennial All-Star and could play the Pippen to James' Jordan. Throw in a front court of Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah and that's a yearly contender.
My problem is the way James is doing it.
It would be one thing if he just signed a contract with another team then did a sit-down interview with Michael Wilbon explaining why.
It's an entirely different thing to make this a public spectacle and try to squeeze every ounce of media attention from it in an attempt to "build the LeBron brand."
It sucks enough for Cleveland fans that they are about to lose their basketball savior, but for him to make it a must-see television event is an absolute disgrace to that city.
LeBron has lost touch with reality and doesn't realize it. He has become so enamored with himself and his own fortune that he has forgotten about everything else that goes into this decision.
Earlier this week, Kevin Durant announced his new contract extension via twitter with one simple message thanking the organization. This is a top four NBA talent simply saying how grateful he was for the opportunity and that he promises to do everything to win.
That was it, no press conference, no website, no parading around the league.
Ditto for Kobe Bryant earlier this year.
Another interesting thing that I don't think LeBron realizes is public opinion has shifted against him.
For the most part, everything you see on TV, Twitter, and sports sites has criticized LeBron for being egotistical, narcissistic, and self-obsessed.
That's pretty odd considering he was one on the more lovable winners (well actually he hasn't won jack so we'll say players) of the past decade.
In an attempt to build his brand, LeBron has instead built up a contingent of followers that are none too pleased with his recent actions.
Of course, all of this could mean nothing if LeBron chooses to return to Cleveland (which he absolutely won't do if he wants to win a title unless there is some secretive Chris Paul to the Cavs deal lurking we don't know about).
If he doesn't return to Cleveland and announces tonight that he is indeed leaving the city, it will signify the beginning of a stressful career and will be a decision that I think LeBron will come to regret.
Last night Cleveland beat writer Brian Windhorst (who went to high school with James and has known him for close to 10 years) tweeted that "I finally realize because of the website, the twitter account, and the press conference LeBron is not who I thought he was."
I don't think any of us did.
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