LeBron James Signs With Miami Because He Can't Take the Heat

Darrell HorwitzSenior Writer IIJuly 9, 2010

GREENWICH, CT - JULY 08:  LeBron James speaks at the LeBron James announcement of his future NBA plans at the Boys & Girls Club of America on July 8, 2010 in Greenwich, Connecticut. James announced during a live broadcast on ESPN that he will play for the Miami Heat next season.  (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Estabrook Group)
Larry Busacca/Getty Images

As everyone sat glued to the television Thursday night watching LeBron James' infomercial, it struck me that he completed a triple-double, and I'm not talking about joining Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade in Miami.

In the first 10 minutes, he tarnished his brand and image, became the most hated player in the NBA, and eliminated himself from ever being in the conversation as the best player of all time.

As a free agent, he had every right to play wherever he wanted to.

It's how he went about making his decision and that he felt he had to play on a "dream team" to win that elusive championship that will change how he's viewed.

What James did was a complete slap in the face to the fans and the city of Cleveland. There didn't seem to be much emotion or remorse for his decision. He said he was just going to do what was in his best interest, critics be damned. 

LeBron has been referred to as "King James" since he was about 15-years-old, so he doesn't have to answer to the peasants surrounding his kingdom, or give them an explanation for why he was leaving.

But what does deciding to play in Miami with a "super team" do to his image as a basketball player and a global icon?

It says that he's not good enough to win by himself and that he needs other superstars to help put him over the top.

Nobody wins without other good players around them, but until now, nobody ever built their own team together from scratch like LeBron, Wade, and Bosh just did. Other teams were built over time, adding a piece here or there until the right ingredients came together to form a champion.

At 25, James thought the clock was ticking and it was time to win. So the big three of the free agent market conspired together to form an All-Star team.

LeBron seems like the kid on the schoolyard who got bullied and brought in his big brother to fight his battle for him.

Wade is his big brother now, expected to do for him what he couldn't do for himself.

Part of the joy of winning a championship is working hard to earn it, not having it handed to you. But I guess when everything has been handed to you for most of your life, you come to expect that.

For James, putting in the effort, the sweat, and the work, and building something while he lead the way would be so much more rewarding than this. Instead, he took the easy way out.

This is like the United States when we lost in the Olympics and sent the first "Dream Team" to bring back this country's honor.

But is what James did yesterday honorable? He sounded like Cleveland fans should feel blessed that they had him for seven years and all that he did for them. But what was that? 

Just getting by on his natural talent and never developing a post-up or mid-range game? Failing to play up to his ability in the playoffs and seemingly quitting on the team at times? Getting to one NBA Finals and losing? Is that what Cleveland fans should be thankful for?

I guess James feels they should have felt graced by his presence, because that seemed to be the attitude he took last night.

Branding has been so important to LeBron, but after his spectacle yesterday, he is now Brand X.

He didn't help his image or his legacy with his cowardly move to South Beach. He is now the most despised member of the most hated team in sports.

He had other alternatives.

He could have gone to New York and joined Amar'e Stoudemire as the Knicks tried to rebuild their franchise. He supposedly always wanted to play on the grand stage in New York, and instead of being reviled, he would be revered for taking the initiative in trying to bring a championship back to New York.

He could have joined his buddy Jay-Z in New Jersey for a couple of years before they move to Brooklyn and tried to win something there. The Nets have some nice pieces in place with Devin Harris, Brook Lopez, and 2010 No. 3 overall draft pick Derrick Favors.

Or he could have made the smart, safe bet and gone to Chicago to team up with Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, and Carlos Boozer. The pieces were already in place in the Windy City.

By joining the Bulls, he could have put them over the top, but the bottom line is that he would have been the one credited with leading them to a championship.

That's not how it will be looked at in Miami. The Heat has been Dwayne Wade's team, and it still is. Wade is the alpha dog. Bosh is the lap dog, and LeBron is now in a sidekick role.

Perhaps that is the smartest move for him. His former coach Paul Silas commented on a radio show before the signing that LeBron doesn't have a killer instinct.

All the great ones do. Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Larry Bird, and Magic Johnson would trip their mothers to win a game.

LeBron doesn't have that in him, and that's why he will be a loser no matter how many championships he wins. His legacy will never be fulfilled. 

He will never be in the conversation as the greatest player to ever lace up sneakers.

Perhaps the Chicago Bulls marketing campaign to get him to come to Chicago best describes the reality that is LeBron James.

In their effort to lure him to town, the Bulls' ad agency sent him a pair of Michael Jordan's sneakers along with the question, "Can you fill these shoes?"

His answer yesterday said it all—he can't, and he never will.