As I was watching this LeBron Special/Decision/completely unnecessary one-hour special last night, I was receiving more texts and calls and emails then I've ever gotten at one time in my entire life. It's probably because I'm a sports nut and I always text or call people with the craziness that happens in sports.
However, last night I couldn't even find the words to respond to anyone. The moment last night was so unbelievable, crazy, completely unnecessary, selfish, stupid, silly, etc...
So I had decided that I wouldn't respond to any one's texts or calls because I just had so much racing in my mind, and I would instead just write about it. But where do you even start? How can you even describe what transpired last night?
Arguably the single greatest, most famous and influential athlete of the past seven years and maybe of the next 12, was about to literally rip out Cleveland's heart and throw it into a big pile of dog-you know what.
Actually, that's not even enough to describe what he did to Cleveland. It was more like taking a knife and slowly cutting a circle around their heart, pouring gasoline on it, and burning it for a slow, long, painful hour. And now they're dealing with the most excruciating next-day pain any sports franchise has ever felt. I don't even want to see what's going on in Cleveland today.
Last night I just felt awkward. I was more uncomfortable then Jim Grey, who arose from the dead, to do the LeBron interview. My thoughts were and still are rambling. They have no continuity, they have no organization, and neither will this article. Let's see how far I get before I start defending LeBron again..
1. The biggest question I have is about LeBron's mental make-up. I wrote on Twitter yesterday that LeBron may not be wired or built the way that we and the media has expected him to be. There is a certain gene/DNA make up (I'm convinced) that certain athletes have that just pushes them to a new level mentally.
Micahel Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, and you're starting to see it with Kevin Durant, this ability to stop everything around them, not care about what anyone is going to say, and just go out and get the job done.
Bill Simmons wrote yesterday about the 2008 Gold Medal game, where all of the players were afraid to step on each others toes to take over the game, until Kobe decided he had enough, went into screw-you mode, and took over for the win.
LeBron just isn't wired like that. He just isn't. Plain and simple. He is the most freakish athlete I've ever seen, and anyone has ever seen, but sports is 80 percent mental and 50 percent physical (thanks John Madden). And while that sounds silly it's kind of true.
The game is more mental then LeBron believes in, and this is why he is going to Miami. He needs to be the second guy. He needs to be the Robin to D-Wade's Batman (thanks Skip Bayless), he needs to be the Nicole Richie to Paris Hilton. Which is a shame because he is only 25. You can try that stuff when you're 31 on your next deal, but not now.
2. God, I feel for Cleveland. I'm not going to go into the ramifications about what last night felt like because I have no idea. In addition to what I wrote before, it just sucks. Plain and simple. He was Cleveland, and now he just left that city for dead.
3. Let's not crown Miami just yet. Seriously, I know so many casual NBA fans who think that Miami automatically won last night. You don't win with three guys. They have NOBODY ELSE on their bench. Ask the Lakers if they could win with Kobe, Gasol, Odom.
Miami has no size, and don't tell me Chris Bosh is size. He plays outside with a mid-range jumper, he has no physical game. You need the Derek Fishers, the Steve Kerrs, the Toni Kukocs, the Bruce Bowens, the James Poseys, the Kendrick Perkins. You need those guys to win. That being said...
4. Don't be surprised if you see a certain 7'2" 300 lb center join the Heat within the next week at the mid-level exception. Mark it down. Shaquille O'Neal will be down in South Beach if he can drop his ego.
5. Fully expect the Heat to sign Mike Miller as a swing guy/defender/shooter. The Heat are going to be attractive for most veterans just for the sheer fact that they have an immediate chance to win. Players like Jason Williams, Louis Amondson, and Miller will all be fleeing to get there.
6. I still don't think the Heat was the best basketball fit for LeBron. The Bulls just seemed so much more like a better fit. Derrick Rose (perfect second guy), LeBron, Carlos Boozer (low post scorer), Joakim Noah (Banger/Rebounder/Defender/Energy), just seemed like the perfect lineup to challenge any type of team.
They would have size, inside scoring, outside scoring, players that could score with LeBron on the bench (something that they couldn't do in Cleveland), and they would have a great balance of defense. Maybe I just study this stuff too much, I don't know.
7. Still feel horrible for Cleveland. Sorry, I just had to made it be known AGAIN.
8. The Knicks have to be the next biggest loser here, right behind Cleveland. They prepared for years to have a run at this guy and it seems like they weren't even in the discussion. Now the Knicks fans are talking themselves into Carmelo Anthony, and or Chris Paul next year. Easy Knick fans.
9. Credit to Steven A. Smith and Chris Broussard for sniffing this out a week ago. That's just good reporting and they got a lot of crap for it.
10. Which LeBron are we going to see now? Are we going to see PG LeBron? Me-Me-Me LeBron? The more Magic-like LeBron, or the more Jordan-like LeBron? I think this is what you'll see from LeBron next year: 22-23 ppg, 11 apg, and 8-9 rpg.
We might actually see LeBron at his full potential, but we don't see that now because of all this smoke still in the air. We need to just wait and let the dust settle and let the team play out. It may be the greatest thing to ever happen to LeBron (I just spilled a little more gasoline on Cleveland, sorry).
11. How are we going to remember the Cleveland Era? Because honestly, I think that they'll remember him for that one-hour special. Which sucks, because he made that city so much money, brought the city so much happiness, yet now the city is completely turning against him.
Is it his fault that the owner and general manager brought in minimal talent around him. Yeah, I know he wanted Mo Williams and Shaq, but where was Amare Stoudemire at the trade deadline? Or Bosh? In my opinion, Dan Gilbert has no reason to freak out the way he did....
12. ...Which leads me to his letter. What the hell was he thinking? Why would you put that letter out? I understand you're upset because LeBron was being completely selfish last night. But honestly, who is going to want to go play for an owner that will undermine someone who made him millions of dollars over five years, and someone who made you famous, and someone you brought butts into your seats?
I just thought it was childish, naive, and just silly. Sometimes you have to take the higher road. Yes, LeBron was selfish last night, but he still had the mindframe to thank Cleveland and say that he loved everything he did there with the team.
13. Final Thought: Secretly I think LeBron is scared. I think he is afraid of that moment in the NBA Finals or in the playoffs when he knows the world is watching, and he has to be the one to make THAT play.
And we have always given him the benefit of the doubt, because he's LeBron and he throws powder, and he flies through the air with the greatest of ease, and he sends opponents shots fiev rows deep, and he takes off from seven or eight feet with his head over the rim already.
But at the end of the day, this is the difference between he and Kobe/MJ/D-Wade. Those guys find the way in their mind to erase everything that's going on, and focus on embracing that moment. They actually wanted that moment to happen. And LeBron just doesn't. He wants to be a part of it, but he just can't.
The move to Miami just completely explains his personality. Now we know the true LeBron—a guy who has all the talents in the world, but just doesn't have the mental makeup to launch him into legendary status. Think of him as more of a Scottie Pippen, or a Dr. J, or a Karl Malone—someone who had all the talent, and all the opportunities for THE MOMENT, but just couldn't find the mental audacity to finish.
Which is why he's now in Miami, because we all know if they get into that situation down one with 10 seconds left, the ball will be cleared out, and it won't be for LeBron James. It's going to be for No. 3.
For years I've defended LeBron on everything. Given him the benefit of the doubt. Now I think I'm going to stop. I didn't like anything about last night. I really didn't. I wanted him to go to Chicago, NY, or even the Clippers, for the NBA's sake. I can't defend him anymore because what I feared all along has come true.
He's not a legend. He can't be anymore. Legends win championships as the alpha dog. Yes, they have help, of course. No one has ever won a championship in any sport without help. But the difference between him and MJ/Kobe/Larry/Magic/Duncan is that they were the lead dog and NO ONE questioned it. Everyone in the known universe knew who was getting the ball, and who was the alpha dog on the team.
LeBron has thrown that out the window. Now he can only be a guy who was an unbelievable player who captivated us for years with his high-flying dunks, his fly-swatting blocks, and his once or twice a game plays that make you sit back and say, "Wow, this is guy is truly one of a kind."
He'll never reach that pantheon level on a team where he is not the lead dog. That's just not how it works. But that may not be what LeBron cares about. And who are we to blame him, it's his life, it's his decision, now he has to man-up and live with it. Good Luck LeBron.