Kobe Bryant and LeBron James were giants among the NBA Elite and then…there was one.
There is an old saying, “that if a tree falls in the woods and nobody hears it does it make a sound”? That saying now applies to LeBron James and the Miami organization. If a team wins a championship and nobody cares does it matter? It will matter in Miami, but outside of that city who else will celebrate if they win one or several titles? Does this set the NBA up for other teams to follow suit to the point that the NBA is made up of three or four mega teams and the rest are just hapless victims?
He has been reviled for how he left the Cleveland Cavaliers and a lot has been said about the infamous “Decision” broadcast. Most summers the NBA is rarely talked about, but this summer the Miami Heat’s big three have created enough venom to poison a Cobra. LeBron’s ultimate goal is to win championships, but in his youth he may have overlooked what his real goal ultimately could have been.
When Michael Jordan won multiple NBA championships love him or hate him you had to respect the talent and tenacity he showed. When Larry Bird would Battle Irvin “Magic” Johnson their battles would make even the casual fan watch. The respect those players earned was not just in their cities but around the world. What made the Dream team spectacular were all the big names finally playing together for one goal. What is going on in Miami is no dream team, but may prove to be a nightmare for the NBA and in the long run.
LeBron stated during his farewell to Cleveland broadcast that championships are championships. He mistakenly feels that winning one in Miami will be as sweet as winning one in Cleveland. If that is true than he has been giving lip service to the people of Cleveland for years. That is like promising your girlfriend to marry her and than jilting her at the alter. Not only did LeBron jilt his Bride he had a big screen in the church and announced he was not going to marry her while having his new bride smiling in the background.Cleveland has been left at the alter before, but the shameful way that LeBron did it made it all the worse.
If Michael Jordan would have left the bulls and joined the Celtics and won championships does anyone believe he would think it was as sweet? If Larry Bird would have joined the LA Lakers would he really be Larry Bird or that guy that played with “Magic” Johnson when he could not do it on his own? LeBron has relegated himself from being one of the best players in the NBA to “the guy that cannot win a championship on his own”. If LeBron had chosen Chicago or New York he would have still been able to get the credibility, of leading a team that would bear his mark. No matter how anyone frames it Miami is Dwayne Wades team. Wade won without LeBron but LeBron has not won without him.
How can a player that takes less money appear to be selfish? That is hard to figure out, but somehow he managed to pull it off more flawlessly than his effort in game five of the playoffs. LeBron’s stench is so foul that "nice guy" Dwayne Wade is getting some of the stink thrown on him. Dewayne Wade is only guilty of being a better marketer than LeBron.
I can imagine Wades pitch to LeBron singing the praises of the south beach weather and night life. He probably spoke of Pat Riley and his reputation and how many championships they can win. He talked of the legacy of excellence they would start. He probably talked of how poor Cleveland is as a place to live, and how much bigger he was than the city of Cleveland and the state of Ohio. He probably finished with how there is no way he will win in Cleveland and had Kevin Garnett co-signing that check. LeBron thought about it and agreed to sign on the dotted line, but did not read the fine print.
The part of the contract that LeBron neglected to read was that he would not be welcome back, not only in Cleveland, but in Ohio. They left out the part that his image would be tarnished and he would go from being a cute puppet next to Kobe Bryant in a commercial to having his "brand" circle the toilet bowl. The fine print that stated he was King James and not Kevin Garnett. He would have been able to win in Cleveland unlike Kevin Garnett in Minnesota. He did not read the part that tells him the reward for one championship in Cleveland would outweigh five in Miami.
LeBron mistakenly also stated that looking at NBA history dictates that no one can win a championship alone. That is true, so the question to LeBron is which one are you, James worthy, Scottie Pippen, or Dennis Johnson? By making the move to Miami he is no longer in the conversation about being compared to Michael, Larry, Magic, or Kobe. LeBron traded his brand and legacy for meaningless championships that he is not guaranteed of winning.
Trent Dilfer was the quarterback of the Baltimore Ravens when they won their only championship. Dan Marino only went to one Super Bowl and never won a ring, but ask anyone who is the best player and they cannot deny it is clearly Marino. Winning a championship alone does not make you a champion. LeBron can collect a fistful of rings, but the respect of his ability and how he plies his craft is now tainted.
The NBA will enjoy hoards of fans gathered to see the show that is the Miami heat for this inaugural season of the three amigos. They will tear through the regular season, city after city and stack up victories that they are expected to win. In the end fans will tire of watching the bully from the South beat up on their teams and turn their attention to other things. David Stern may be ringing his hands at the cash machine the Heat will provide on their city to city tour, but will soon find empty arenas where fans used to be.
The building of super teams comes at a price. When Carmello Anthony leaves Denver what will Denver become? In Toronto their lone superstar is a thing of the past and obscurity and empty seats await that arena. Cleveland will be relegated to its normal role as the forgettable losing organization that it has been pre-LeBron James. Owner’s promises aside Cleveland could not get free agents with LeBron so do not look for them to come there after he is gone.
LeBron has circled his wagons and is on the defensive and he and the Heat have their “us against the world mentality” right now. When the last piece of confetti lands, and the press is not huddled around his locker, and he has gotten his last hug from his teammates it will hit him. LeBron will realize that as great as this feeling is it would have paled in comparison had he done it at home, with the people that loved him. He got the type of fan love that is reserved for athletes like Drew Brees and what he did for New Orleans.
He was given an opportunity in Cleveland that few athletes ever get a chance to do and that is win a championship in their backyard, surrounded by friends and family. He was Ohio’s own home grown superstar. He allowed a city that had been beaten down to stick its chest out and take pride if only for a moment. Ohioans and especially Clevelanders knew that a championship was just a season or two away. They all knew and believed in him, but it is too bad that he did not believe in himself as much as the rest of the city and state. The amazing thing is it is not just Ohioans that have a distaste for LeBron James, it is seemingly everywhere.
Eventually the “heat” will die down and after this season the villagers will put down their torches an lose their burning hatred for the monster in Miami, but things will never be what they once were for LeBron no matter what level of success he obtains, because he cannot come home. He cannot come home to the cheers and accolades he once received. It would be like Art Modell coming back to Cleveland and asking the city and state to share in the joy of the Lombardi Trophy. He is just a man and it is just a sport, but in a city that craves and deserves a championship LeBron is just another who has spit in the face of the fandom of Cleveland is such a classless way.