Saying that on Thursday night one of the biggest free agency decisions in sports history was made would be by no means an understatement—this was the night that we saw the NBA take an incredible turn all based on one single “decision.”
As fans, we were again nothing more but “witnesses” to LeBron James, the back-to-back MVP, when he chose to reveal his intention for the 2010-11 NBA season on an one hour special aired on ESPN.
This decision was, on Thursday night, by no means a surprise for anyone who attempted with any little effort to follow this story, as it had been reported by various different trusted sources that LeBron was heading to South Beach to play along Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
Like most fans of the NBA I myself grew more and more eager day after day to find out where the “King” was headed. When reports first came out that LeBron was headed to Miami, I refused to believe it for two main reasons.
The first of which was because for LeBron to join the Miami Heat, he would have to leave his home-town of Cleveland title-less when he was seen in the draft of 2003 as the savior of not only the Cavalier franchise, but as the savior and “Chosen One” that would bring a championship to Cleveland (something the city had longed for since 1964).
How could he possibly leave and add another heartbreaking story to the incredible sports drought that Cleveland had suffered from?
How could he leave a franchise and a management that had made every possible move to keep James satisfied and try to build around him a serious title contender?
I could have never imagined him having the nerve to crush the heart of every Cleveland native live on national television.
People are quick to forget the success that LeBron enjoyed in his stay with the Cavaliers; this was a team that enjoyed two consecutive 60+ win seasons while James became only the 10th NBA player in the rich history of the NBA to be named MVP in two consecutive seasons.
LeBron wouldn’t leave all that and crush his hometown in the process...would he?
The second reason that I doubted speculation claiming that LeBron was headed to Miami was because we had already learned that both Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade had agreed to join said franchise. I started thinking about all the greats that I had personally witnessed and the high degree of self pride these true superstars had.
Superstars like: Jordan, Kobe, Magic, Bird, and of course the lord of the rings Bill Russell.
Much of the media, and most of LeBron’s fans (including myself), are guilty of making such associations.
Before Thursday night I would have even defended such comparisons to be made, but LeBron made his “decision” to take the easiest route to a title (at least it looks that way now) instead of committing to the great fans of Cleveland, focusing on bringing the city out of its championship drought, and become a legend in Cavalier and Cleveland history for ages to come.
Some people say LeBron didn’t choose Chicago as his playing destination because of the legacy that one Michael Jordan left on that franchise. LeBron had an absolutely similar opportunity to create his very own immortal legacy in the Cavaliers franchise.
Unlike Mike, James gave up on making it for his own franchise and went on to choose to play alongside arguably two of the top five greatest players in the league.
Instead of creating a Magic-Bird type of rivalry for fans worldwide, he bolted and joined the other side.
Reggie Miller may have never won an NBA title, but he is constantly referred to as one of the most clutch performers in the history of all of sports.
LeBron could have been the Miller that gave Cleveland exactly that same excitement while also having great chances to reach the top of the NBA ladder and become a champion in the process.
But he didn’t, and never will.
I always believed that LeBron would go down as one of the best of all time, but after Thursday night, he may instead go down as the biggest superstar in NBA history not to win a title as the main man.
On a closing note, we should all hail the true King: Mr. Pat Riley.