Is LeBron James Playing the New York Media and Fans?

Jim Bertsch@jrjbertschContributor IApril 1, 2010

NEW YORK - MARCH 05:  LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers confronts a fan who went on the court to greet him after he was taken out of the game  against  the New York Knicks on March 5, 2008 at Madison Squaere Garden in New York City, New York.   NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

New Yorkers believe in their fair city. It is the greatest city on the planet, ever. New York's success in sports is legendary.

The Yankees have won 27 championships and 40 American league pennants many of those titles, especially the 2009 championship, have been bought by tapping into the free agent market and attracting the very best talent with oodles of cash and the glamour of the BIG city. The Giants have won 7 NFL titles with 3 Super Bowl victories. Their most recent title came in the 2007-2008 season.

The Knicks are a very different story!

They haven't won an NBA championship since 1973. They have put some great teams on the floor, especially in the 1990s, but Michael Jordan and the Bulls always were a little better. The Knicks are a proud franchise; who can forget Willis Reed, Dave Debusschere, Walt Frazier, Bill Bradley, Bernard King, and Patrick Ewing?

But the last few years the Knicks have been concerned with reducing salary, not winning championships. They put a team on the floor without spending money on top talent. Their excuse to the fans, they need salary space for at least two, if not three, max contracts for the summer of 2010. The poor state of the team reflects those choices.

Cleveland on the other hand, has acquired the likes of Shaquille O'Neal and Antawn Jamison in return for money (not talent). Cleveland had the best record in the NBA last year and will again this year. They are the favorites to win the NBA title this year.

How is it that New York, which has never been shy about spending money, is reducing salary and "rebuilding," while Cleveland buys top talent?

Certainly it is not the city.

New York draws the best of the best in every profession, not just sports. The city has so much to offer, the money is like icing on top of a very delicious cake. Let's face it, New Yorkers generally are better and smarter than their counterparts in middle-of-nowhere places like Cleveland. New York media professionals are the best because they have earned a top-notch position in the media capital of the world.

Places like Cleveland are for the 'lesser lights,' the ones who lost out and who are not good or smart enough to make it in the big time. Sports stars are surely the same as every other profession.

At least that is what all the contrived hype says. New Yorkers fall victim to it so easily. It is so believable, so infectious, no-one is immune. Could it be the free agency summer of 2010, was setup by Clevelanders to take advantage of this and New Yorkers coveting yet another Cleveland superstar?

New Yorkers, get used to the thought, you are being played big time!

Want evidence?

Before all the buzz about the summer of 2010, would New York fans ever tolerate, let alone encourage, the owners of the Knicks and the Nets to trash their teams, negatively impacting their team for years, while pinning their hopes on one Clevelander leaving his home town for New York?

Would Cleveland be able to just pluck an All-Star caliber player like Antawn Jamison from the Wizards, by simply being willing to take on his contract?

Would New Jersey be striving to avoid the worst record in NBA history just a few short years after contending?

New Jersey fans are shelling out real cash to watch the second worst team in NBA history!

New York fans are excited about the possibilities of a championship, while their teams tank!

LeBron James, his agents, the Dolans, and Dan Gilbert are at the heart of the summer of 2010. They probably dreamed it up together, when LeBron negotiated his last contract with Cleveland in 2006.

These Clevelanders know that the New York media has the NBA megaphone. They know New York fans are hungry, starving, even, for an NBA championship. They know New Yorkers love to have their big egos massaged. They know the Yankees' free agency success in baseball will lead fans to believe they can achieve the same results in basketball.

They know the attraction of having LeBron, Wade, and Bosh on one team. They experienced New Yorkers looking down their noses at Cleveland. When you add it all up, it is easy to envision them laughing together in LeBron's newly built mansion (40 minutes from downtown Cleveland) concocting the 'Summer of LeBron.'

New Yorkers are led to believe LeBron loves New York, because he wears his Yankee cap in very public places to show his love. His Yankee image is instant news, because it begs the question, why would LeBron (or anyone), who is the best of the best, stay in Cleveland, when he obviously loves New York. Cleveland is merely his proving ground, but not a place which can contain his NBA greatness. Surely New York is the place where his greatness belongs.

The 'Summer of LeBron' story is a major boon for Clevelanders: The Dolans take New Yorkers' money without paying for talent, while Gilbert and LeBron poach NBA talent from any other team willing to fall victim to the hype. If they didn't dream it up, they should thank whoever did.

The 'brilliant' New York media campaign for LeBron, exhorts the virtues of New York over Cleveland to the entire country. On the surface it makes Cleveland look bad, but in reality gullible New Yorkers are the victims. In fact, it has every NBA city asking the same question. Why would LeBron stay in Cleveland, when my city has so much more to offer him?

This fallacious line of thinking has caused at least 10 (both New York) teams to reduce salary and purge talent, allowing Cleveland to snag it. Cleveland went from having LeBron and a team of nobodies, arguably the least talented team in the NBA, to a team which no longer needs LeBron to be good, but still needs him to achieve greatness.

After this summer is over, Cleveland, LeBron, and his agents will have engineered trades and free-agent signings, which will have the Cavs set up to rule the NBA for a decade. New York and the rest of the NBA will have hope: you know, maybe next year.

There is real beauty in the justice of this situation. New Yorkers can continue to fall victim to their own endless drivel and watch a basketball dynasty grow in Cleveland. Or they can learn to compete successfully, by respecting rather than pirating the opposition.


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