LeBron James Is What We Thought He Was: A Front-Runner

Jon LeeCorrespondent IJuly 13, 2010

MIAMI - JULY 09:   LeBron James #6, Dwyane Wade #3 and Chris Bosh #1 of the Miami Heat speak after being introduced to fans during a welcome party at American Airlines Arena on July 9, 2010 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)
Doug Benc/Getty Images

We should have seen this coming...

For the last seven years, we've had plenty of glimpses into what kind of a person LeBron James is.

We should have known when he nicknamed himself "The Chosen One" and tattooed it on his back.

We should have known something was wrong when he was asked what he wanted for his career and he responded with two words; "Global Icon."

Not to mention the five times he referred to himself in the third person during "The Decision."

We should have known when LeBron (a child of the 80s) revealed that his favorite teams were The Bulls, Cowboys, and Yankees (or you know, the teams that won almost EVERY championship while he was a kid). Cleveland should have seen the signs when he didn't support a single team from Ohio.

How about the two consecutive early playoff exits, followed by LeBron walking off the court without shaking hands?

Or how about the complete lack of effort in Game 5 of the Boston Series this year; a classic "I'm waiting for the offseason" game.

The problem is partially our expectations. Because of his talent, WE wanted LeBron to be Magic, Jordan, and Bird all rolled up in one, and we ignored the type of player we were watching...

We ignored when LeBron would consistently shrink in the final moments of a big game. We ignored the nail biting, the lack of leadership, and the fact that having fun always seemed more important than actually winning.

LeBron burned his legacy on Thursday like fans burned his jersey in Cleveland.

And the thing is the choice was NOT about winning. The choice was about getting help. The choice was about giving up the burden of being a franchise player and the savior of a city.

The choice was about LeBron wanting to be paid and treated like a franchise player without actually having to be "The Guy" every night.

The real winner in all of this is D-Wade. Wade gets a longer max contract and gets to save his body during the first 42 minutes of every game before taking over in the last six, while still remaining the face of the franchise.

LeBron will NEVER be the face of the Heat because Wade brought the championship there in 2006, and as he reminded us a few years ago when he hit a game winner against Chicago; Miami is his house.

Take a second to think back through the GREAT players the NBA has seen throughout the years. From Mikan to Russell, to Kareem, to Magic, to Bird, to Jordan, to Tim Duncan, and even my arch nemesis Kobe "Bean" Bryant, none of them would have shirked their responsibility to a franchise the way LeBron did. 

In fact, Duncan even had the chance in 2003 to flee for a super team in the state tax free city of Orlando. If you recall, the Magic had already signed Grant Hill and Tracy McGrady to contracts. At the time Duncan had already won a title for the Spurs, and being from the Virgin Islands Duncan had nowhere near the local ties LeBron had to Cleveland.

But Duncan stuck it out, because that's what true superstars do. Superstars are supposed to be wired differently.

LeBron thinks his decision was about "taking his talents to South Beach," but really his decision was to step down from the superstar pedestal and become just another All-Star.