Now that the circus that amounted to LeBron James ‘Farewell to Cleveland Tour’ is over, I have to admit that I’m still surprised that James left cash on the table to leave his hometown Cavaliers. Obviously, he believes he’ll make it up in another fashion somewhere down the road in Miami. But what puzzles me more, after all the noise James has made about becoming a “global icon”, is that he would choose to become Scottie Pippen.

There’s nothing wrong with a player sacrificing himself (as if moving from Ohio to Florida and playing for multi-millions can be characterized as ‘sacrifice’) for the sake of winning a championship. Under normal circumstances, most would applaud such a move indicating a player’s overriding desire to win. I don’t doubt James sincerity in wanting to win. But, coming off a less than stellar performance in the Eastern semis against Boston, isn’t James’ defection to Miami essentially an admission that he’s not good enough to carry a team? Somehow I can’t see Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant making the same decision as James has. Hell, Bryant basically drove Shaquille O’Neal out of Los Angeles and still managed to win with a cast of characters that is not much better than what James just left in Cleveland.

James could have gone to New York or Chicago and been “The Man”. Of course, in Chicago he would have had to contend with the specter of Jordan’s legacy but would probably also have had almost as good a chance to win with Derek Rose and Joakim Noah. By selecting Miami, he’ll always be second fiddle to Dwayne Wade. Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing; Pippen had a Hall of Fame career as Michael Jordan’s sidekick in Chicago. But that isn’t the player that LeBron James and his marketers would have us believe that he is.

Let me also take a minute here to deride the way in which James handled his situation. James’ decision to leave Cleveland was going to be a blow to Cav’s fans no matter what but scheduling an hour long ‘dog & pony show’ on ESPN was just rubbing it in their faces. (Shame on the ’4-Letter’ for sinking to a new low in being a party to this sham.) James said that he made the decision to go to the Heat the morning of the program even though multiple sources have reported it for weeks. In announcing his intentions, James stated that he was “taking his game to South Beach” which makes me further wonder where his priorities really lie.

In the end, I believe James could come to regret his decision. This move only works if it results in a championship(s); something that’s not a given considering that the Heat currently have only 4 players on their official roster with most of their salary cap money already tied up in 3 of them. This isn’t like Oscar Robertson joining the Bucks at the end of his career back in the day or even like Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen joining Paul Pierce in Boston. Supposedly the seed for this “mega-team” was planted when Wade, James and Chris Bosh all played together for the national team in China. It’s one thing for these guys to hold it together for a couple of months while playing for their country. It’s quite another for 3 superstars in the prime of their careers to set aside their egos over the grind of an NBA season. The result may not be what James envisions at this time.

All that remains now is for Heat president Pat Riley to pull a “Van Gundy-esque” move to push current head coach Erik Spoelstra aside in order to return to the bench. No doubt the NBA pundits will install the Heat as the early favorites for next year’s title. But they will also learn that very few people outside of Florida will be rooting for them to succeed.


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  • Max

    Couldn’t disagree more and I’d love to hear from other Wisconsin sports fan.

    The 1 hour special was a disaster – but his decision to go to Miami was amazing. Good for him for doing exactly what he wants to do to win a championship.

    I have never cheered for LeBron up to this point….but unless the Heat play the Bucks, I will be cheering for them every game.

  • Max

    Tim legler said it best on Thursday night….He was on a cruise ship and found out from a fan that he had just gotten traded…. No call, no farewell hug from the GM or Owner.

    LeBron did to the Cavs ownership what they have done to other players on many occasions. Made a tough decision and gave them to Boot.

    My final point is this…The most entertaining basketball I have watched the past 5-10 years took place in the Summer 2008 Olympics, LeBron was unselfish, DWade and Bosh all played well together. I look forward to seeing something similiar with Miami in 2010-2011

  • http://mike BigSnakeMan

    I take no issue with LBJ’s decision to leave Cleveland; personally I don’t care one way or the other. I just find it incongruent with the way he’s marketed himself to this point in his career.

    As far as his relationship with management, LeBron has nothing to complain about as he’s pretty much been in control of his situation from day 1.

  • Chris

    Max’s comment that LBJ did to management in CLE what management does to players all the time is misplaced in my judgment.

    What LBJ did is different from the cold slap Legler got. I think there is a difference between management making a personnel decision quietly and a player turning his back not just on management but on a team and its fans in a one hour TV special. When a player turns his back on a management, he is discarding the team and its fans; it’s one thing to do so privately, it is another to do it on national TV (even if it is cable.)

  • http://mike BigSnakeMan

    Legler was a journeyman. For him to compare his situation to James is ludicrous and demonstrates a complete lack of understanding from someone who is supposed to be regarded as an analyst. The reality is that superstars get preferential treatment in the NBA on & off the court.

  • John

    Just wanted to point something out to you that the National media isn’t saying. Don’t be too enamored with LBJ, Bosh and Wade taking less money than they could have. In theory, they could have taken more money with the max deal, however, they are going to be making more money in Florida, had LBJ and Bosh signed max deals with their repsective teams. Florida has no state tax! Bosh was making almost 60 cents on the dollar in Canada after taxes. Ohio is probably the most heavily taxed state in the country. They have a state tax, county tax and a city tax. I lived there for two years and I was bringing home about 60 cents on the dollar. So, LBJ and Bosh are bringing home more money now than they would have had they stayed with their prospective teams and taken the extra $15 million dollars. Just wanted to let you know that they really aren’t sacrificing as much as they say they are.