LeBron James' Decision To Quit On Cleveland Should Stain Him Forever

Robert Kleeman@@RobertKleemanSenior Analyst IJuly 9, 2010

BOSTON - MAY 13:  LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers reacts to a foul call as Tony Allen #42 of the Boston Celtics celebrates during Game Six of the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the 2010 NBA playoffs at TD Garden on May 13, 2010 in Boston, Massachusetts.  NOTE TO USER: User Expressly Acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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He has been called a number of negative things in his seven-year career.

LeBrick. LeAttentionWhore. LeDebacle.

LeBron James earned a new nickname Thursday night when he decided to bolt for Miami: LeQuit.

Go ahead and celebrate him if you want. I don't buy the hype.

Heat fans can rejoice.

Those living in my reality should scoff and show him the middle finger.

He quit in Game Five against the Boston Celtics. He quit Thursday night.

I do not begrudge him for wanting to play alongside his Olympic teammates Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade.

That opportunity would have been difficult for anyone to discard.

Pat Riley will need to work some true magic to fill out that roster with a championship-quality supporting cast, but his track record says he can make it work.

James told an ESPN crew that championships are as sweet in any locale. Wrong. No NBA title would have been sweeter than the one he should have secured in Ohio. None.

Now, he will justifiably be seen as the guy who could not lead a team to glory. He had to go to someone else's team to do it.

At 25, he could have taken three-year deal with the Cavs and trusted them to find those last few missing pieces. Michael Jordan waited until the Bulls found him Scottie Pippen and, years later, Dennis Rodman. Who says the Cavs could not have done the same?

The Miami Heat belong to Dwyane Wade. King James can kiss his proverbial crown and the egomaniacal act that accompanies it goodbye.

He must concede, as Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen did to Paul Pierce in Boston, that Wade runs the show.

Why would a player who wants to be viewed as an all-time great make that move, with so many more years to triumph as the hometown hero?

A single digit number of players in sports history get the chance to suit up for their home town franchise. James just threw it all away.

He crapped all over miserable Ohio on national television. Way to go, LeBron.

He isn't chasing Michael anymore. He's chasing second fiddle and a second-tier status in the history books. If he can live with that, good for him.

I begrudge his methodology and his narcissism much more than his departure. He owned Cleveland. He did whatever he wanted without consequence there. He faced less pressure, too, because he was the only iconic sports figure still in uniform in the state of Ohio.

Jim Brown won that last Cleveland title in 1964. As much as Clevelanders ramrodded and blasted him for his tank jobs against the Celtics, imagine what he would have encountered in New York, where he would have competed against a Yankees backdrop.

That franchise has snagged 27 banners. Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter helped baseball's proudest outfit raise that 27th one last year.

Did New York Post reporter Marc Berman really tell a Houston radio station this week that fans there would have celebrated James after his Game Five, three made baskets stinker?

The same Knicks fans who spent much of the last decade rooting for the opponent because the local product was so dreadful and embarrassing?

The same Knicks fans who showered Kobe Bryant with an "MVP" chant after his 61-point magnum opus at Madison Square Garden?

For much of last year, spectators and writers from other cities have written garbage articles about why Cleveland doesn't deserve James.

Miami fans would have appreciated James' contributions more.

You know, the same ones who couldn't fill up American Airlines Arena the year after the Heat won the franchise's first ever title.

It's clear now, James doesn't deserve Cleveland.

Owner Dan Gilbert did everything possible to put a winning product on the floor.

GM Danny Ferry's moves did not pan out as expected, but that is often the price of doing business.

The Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers hoisted the last three Larry O'Brien trophies, and they have combined to win more than 30 of them.

The San Antonio Spurs, as James should remember well, swept the Cavs to snag a fourth golden ball in 2007.

While the Knicks piled up losses and gutted the roster with no remorse, Ferry worked feverishly to do whatever possible to give James a primo supporting cast. 

Are we going to just forget that the Cavs posted the last two best regular season records in the league? Did they not just win 66 and 61 games?

Thursday's long-awaited decision was not just about teaming with fellow All-Stars. He needed to abdicate himself of the responsibility that crushed him this spring.

He couldn't deliver when it mattered most against an aging roster his team was expected to smoke. The Celtics demonstrated the heart and the chemistry necessary to claim the title in that series.

James calmly put his hands around his neck and said, "whatever." When he exited the TD Garden court after another playoff ouster, he did not sport the look of a man consumed by winning.

Instead, he looked like a ruthless, attention-starved businessman guarding his own ego.

He's a loser. Many will etch images of Bosh, James, and Wade in their minds tonight.

I will never forget those two nights versus Boston when he gave up in the face of adversity.

Jordan remained in Chicago through his early career struggles and won six championships. The Bulls, like the Cavs, had never won anything prior to his reign. Yeah, Jordan was a real king.

James just failed at his life mission, the one so few athletes ever get the privilege to accept. He was destined to be the one to turn Heartbreak City into Titletown. He was destined to take the whine out of wine and gold.

He bailed on his home and the legacy that could have been.

Now, it seems unlikely he will ever be viewed on the same tier as Kobe Bryant.

Remember when he demanded a trade out of L.A. a few years ago?

The Lakers and Bryant survived the turbulence and look at them now. Everyone, including this new South Beach superteam, is chasing them.

The Cavs did everything and now they get nothing but a lump of coal and feces.

You want to torch his jersey, Clevelanders? Burn away, boys.

I don't write here to become popular. I always write my version of the truth. Hate me and pelt me with insults if you must.

Some people live in a sick and twisted world where hard-working average Joes should worship multi-millionaires at all costs, even when a supposed icon plays like a chump, instead of a champ.

This Summer of LeBron has been a farce for the ages--a me-first, celebrate-me, love-me, disgusting insight into a man who still doesn't get it.

What an asshole.

If he wants to be celebrated as Kevin Garnett was when he left an abysmal Minnesota franchise, he should forget it.

Garnett asked for a trade on a few occassions in his 10 years there but did not complain in public even as Boston GM Danny Ainge was plotting his new green machine.

Understand this: Garnett was traded with maybe four or five years left in his career. James walked out with his prime still ahead.

Apologize for James if you must, but go complain about Mo Williams somewhere else.

Had James stayed, a new GM would have shipped out the inadequate guard or found a way to upgrade the position. He made his own kingdom and now he wants to split to play loyal subject elsewhere?

The Cavs bowed to him at his every request. They feared him. All he needed to complete his monarchy was a scepter and a robe strewn with diamonds.

When James headed to the scorer's table each night to throw rosin in the air like magic dust, whether at Quicken Loans Arena or on the road, he did so as the savior.

Is he as ready as he thinks to defer? Can he stop the frivolous sideline dances, and his incessant prancing and preening?

Garnett was not good enough anyway to win a ring as a team's best player. Ditto for Allen. 

James might be. Thanks to his Thursday decision, we will never know.

I do not despise the Heat. This article isn't about Miami. This is an indictment of James, a stain that should follow him for the rest of his life.

He convened a nationally-televised press conference to dump on the team that needed him more than any other. If he burned the Cavs this way, lighting a few of his jerseys on fire amounts to little.

Someday soon, I might wake up and regret writing this column. Until then, good luck getting me to say "sorry."

He did not owe a championship to Clevelanders as much as he owed a sweet victory parade there to himself. He could have been the guy to resurrect a manic-depressive city's fortunes.

Those ready to anoint Miami as home of the next great sports dynasty should remember this fella named Kobe Bryant.

Would the Kobe of the last few years, the mature and ultra-competitive one, ever have pulled this stunt? No way.

That Pau Gasol fella is pretty good, too.

Last I checked, Tim Duncan has not retired, either.

I would vilify James less if he had not turned his decision into such a damning, classless production. What he did matters less than how he did it.

For now, a captivated portion of the nation can rest. The Ego Finals went the distance. The Game Seven that lasted six overtimes is mercifully over.

His announcement on ESPN that he would defect to South Beach made a few things clear.

That unfinished business will stick with him like congealed grease to a frying pan.

His news conference, that self-important beauty pageant disguised as a charity event, will make the pain last longer in Cleveland.

The newest nickname fits now, just as it did when the veteran Celtics dispatched James' Cavaliers in six games.


His Game Six triple-double was the softest, weakest, most hollow one I have ever witnessed.

Go put that on a billboard.

You can't crown him anymore. The King is dead, having surrendered his way into Wade's palace.

In perhaps the ultimate show of justice, he will now have to bow to someone else.


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