LeBron James Amidst the Big Three, Still Stands Alone
What LeBron James has done to himself is truly unprecedented.
He's become the final piece of the new Big Three in the East, but in a way, he still stands alone.
Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh won't be the villains here. Not to say Wade and Bosh don't have blood on their hands, but James has consciously made the world his enemy and his enemy alone.
It was LeBron's decision. And it was an especially painful one. He had the option of keeping his world together. He could've stayed in Cleveland, making things right for the entire state of Ohio, and could pace forward as Atlas—the character he's played for the past seven years.
But I suppose instead of listening to his heart, he listened to his heart . His vitals are fine. He is the physical embodiment of the perfect basketball specimen.
But how long will that remain? Carrying a team on his back for seven years took its toll on him.
He made his decision. It was a mortal one. But he couldn't do it on his own. And rather than fight it against all odds, he acknowledged his limitations as a human, which is surprising, to say the least.
Michael Jordan wouldn't have done it.
And thus, the sudden shift in the LeBron James narrative.
Will this hurt LeBron's legacy? Probably, if it hasn't already taken a lashing. But LeBron wants to win. This was up for debate just a few months ago, but his decision proves that winning is a bigger priority than many gave him credit for.
He still has potential to become the greatest player in basketball, but there's a championship he must taste first, and now there are demons he has to deal with. And behind that 6'8", 250-pound frame, perhaps there's a guy who just isn't strong enough to take it all on himself.
That's no slight on LeBron as a player. We do what we need to do. He's tried to please everyone for seven years. Now, at 25, he's learning to do things on his own accord. We blame him for what he's done to the city of Cleveland, and rightfully so.
But as sports fans, it's that personal investment in something we can't control that will always leave room for heartbreak.
And that's why James isn't the only one at fault.
The scene of fans burning James' jersey was disrespectful. Period. It was a tough blow to Cleveland and the state of Ohio, but sinking to LeBron's level of commitment and loyalty doesn't solve anything. It reaffirms LeBron's decision as the right one.
What was left in Cleveland for LeBron? He was Cleveland Basketball. The fans, and even the Cavaliers ownership placed him on an insurmountable pedestal.
Sure, there was a ring to be had, but who was going to win it for them? LeBron James and LeBron James only. That isn't enough. LeBron knew it, and so did the Cavs management. But because of their circumstances, they weren't able to make the proper adjustments.
Catering to LeBron's every whim was the wrong move by the Cavs management. The organization is independent of its players. The organization has a reputation to uphold and a certain code it must abide by.
But that stands independent of its players. The team had lost its identity in constantly trying to do good by James. There was nothing left in the franchise but LeBron himself. And James is playing for more than that.
And that leaves majority owner Dan Gilbert's conspicuous address to the fans. It was caustic. It sought to retract all of the niceties that Cavs ownership had provided James, much of which coming from Gilbert himself.
He went out of his way to burn bridges with the city's beloved hero of seven years. As much as it was warranted, and as much as it's what the fans want to hear, it was a horrible decision. Gilbert chose to be passive-aggressive. There is no victory in that.
If Gilbert can turn his back so easily on a player of James' standing, what could he do with someone who clearly isn't?
Cleveland can try to rebuild, but the irreparable damage that was initially caused by James' departure was only exacerbated by Gilbert's ill-conceived denouncement of a local legend.
In the prime of his career, James has opted for the low road. What fans he's gained in the Miami area, he's lost everywhere else.
Jordan, the insufferable menace, was beloved by many. LeBron, the good natured kid from Ohio, has become Public Enemy No. 1. Although, Jordan did all of his heart breaking on the court.
So, what's changed in LeBron's narrative? At the end of the day, not much.
LeBron James was a prince in Akron. He was a benevolent king in Cleveland, who transformed into a despot during this free agency period.
Now in Miami, despotism has made way for oligarchy. But the reign continues—with adulation from a different source—all with the hope that the James' luck might royally change.
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