Monday, May 17, 2010
LeBron Owes Nothing to Cleveland, But Is Deserving of Title Elsewhere
Every time a big-name free agent is available to test the market or when his season ends woefully and agonizingly, he becomes the biggest curiosity in sports.
There has been much dialogue about Cleveland Cavaliers' star LeBron James, who becomes a free agent July 1. He'll test the market and negotiate with franchises willing to offer riches and more importantly a supporting cast.
If he leaves his hometown and departs to another city, it’s obvious that he desired a change of scenery, riches and/or fame. But understand that James doesn’t owe Cleveland or its fans anything, and has every right to leave his hometown for an opportunity to contend for a title.
By now, you’ve heard all the speculations and possibilities of James becoming a resident in South Beach or Chicago, a pair of high-market cities with flourishing star players.
When a superstar fails to win for a franchise where he posed as an endearing icon and savior, he’ll desperately flee to have an opportunity of winning a title in a town that is equipped to extend greatness. If he has played his final game with the Cavs, the LeBron sweepstakes draws all the attention as he becomes the blockbuster name in the free-agency watch. As the fans wonder where he’ll wind up in the future, Cleveland supporters are pleading for James to stay in a tribute video called “We Are LeBron,” a film produced by Mike Polk, a lifelong Cavs' fan.
Polk amazingly convinced Break Media to reach an agreement on a unique idea.
When the Cavs were eliminated from the postseason by Boston, the video featuring Cleveland celebrities and Ohio Governor Ted Strickland launched on websites.
It’s hard to imagine him returning to his native state this summer after such a collapse. The blow only adds to the devastating crisis that has dismantled a city devoid of celebrating a major championship for over 40 years.
The demise of the Cavaliers may have decided James’ future after the club's inabilities doomed a franchise that never endured triumph.
Because he’s from Akron, Ohio, a community near Cleveland, Lebron’s a hometown hero. Since he bypassed college for the NBA after graduating from high school, James dilated stardom.
In a fan-driven city, where supporters were keen to embrace a noble superstar, a supreme athlete who could excite and amuse a downcast city, LeBron was recognized and valuable in Cleveland. He brought the Cavs optimism, and erased the horrid memories of failures. But now, he could be departing to once again leave agony on the faces of devastated fans who have long-awaited a major championship.
His departure will expand the dismal, making the people weary and disgusted. He’s not only playing the game for the welfare of fans, but for the welfare of occupying a profession in pro sports and capturing multiple titles elsewhere. If he’s serious about winning, he’ll sign with either the Heat or Bulls, two teams that seem coherent. There are many superstars he can possibly unite with, become a local resident and win multiple titles.
It only makes sense if he lands in Miami and declares his citizenship in South Beach, where he’ll be noticed as the top superstar alongside Dwyane Wade, who is an explosive guard with the ability to create in transition and set up plays for James. For years, Heat president Pat Riley has been interested in big-name stars and rebuilding a dynamic team.
There’s no doubt that Riley will enter in the LeBron sweepstakes to negotiate a long-term deal and lure him in. It’s a potential building block by signing James and forms a forceful tandem, probably what would be the greatest guard-forward combination in a long time.
Earlier in the year, there was more speculation that he’ll sign with New York, a franchise in need of a valuable star player. The Knicks president of basketball operations, Donnie Walsh, cleared a large amount of salary cap space to sign a compelling free agent this summer. It’s a waste if the Knicks fail to please LeBron-lovers in New York without wooing or signing him to a huge contract. On Broadway, his legacy will elevate as the fans are excited to sell out Madison Square Garden.
More fittingly, the Bulls are surrounded with young and flourishing stars in Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah—and if you believe in every headline developing in the news, John Calipari could be hired as the next coach to work under turbulent general manager John Paxson.
You cannot count out the New Jersey Nets, a team with emerging talent but very little structure and discipline. It’s a dysfunctional franchise, but his good-friend Jay-Z may toss out the big bucks and convince him to contribute in refurbishing his depleted franchise.
In his effulgent career, he has been compared to Michael Jordan. Yes, the man with six rings and all the expensive and stylish shoes, and the man who led a powerful dynasty by producing triumphant achievements, all with the Bulls during his memorable reign. It’s easy to grasp a sense that he’ll migrate to Chicago and play in the shadows of Jordan, a player he idolized while growing up and develop a unique brand. There’s no question that James is a talented superstar, but has yet ascended his legacy, still empty-handed of a title.
He has all the individual accolades, such as two NBA Most Valuable Player awards, triple-doubles and double-doubles, postseason wins, a lone Finals appearance, but no championships. He has a horrible postseason track record, which is hard to imagine. He’s 2-5 in elimination games, 0-4 on the road and lost in the conference semifinals, and has yet to capitalize on the NBA’s monumental platform with a decisive win.
If he does decide to turn down the Cavs and leave his hometown for the betterment of winning, much nod to James, who‘s more concerned and vehement about protecting his legacy and reputation with a stable franchise and win a long-awaited championship.
For all the significant upgrades, the Cavs still shied from the biggest win in franchise history. LeBron was the savior in a town that believed in the improbable, but was perceived as the probable, until the aging Celtics embarrassed the Cavs by thrashing James and his lethargic and absent-minded supporting cast. It’s quite agonizing that it ended badly, after general manager Danny Ferry assembled a talented unit and owner Dan Gilbert cashed the checks.
He paid Mo Williams, a good shooting guard, Antawn Jamison, who was acquired in a trade, and Shaquille O’Neal, but all stumbled at critical moments in the postseason, putting tremendous pressure on LeBron. For seven years, customers, markers, and fans have created ego and elevated James’ fame, from the brainwashing of Nike puppet ads to the shoes all fans endorses.
As measured and compared to the legendary Jordan, he’s a resemblance of his size, strength and emotional leadership. But he still doesn’t have a ring to relate to Jordan on what it tastes like to win a championship. Apparently, James has to find it elsewhere by emotionally leaving home.
He doesn’t owe the fans anything. He owes himself a championship.