It came like everything he’s ever done. Quick, fast, and explosive
At approximately 9:30 PM on Thursday, July 8th 2010, LeBron James sat down across from Jim Gray in a checkered shirt and a pair of jeans and calmly reminded everyone watching in the world what he is, and what he isn’t. And when he was done he eviscerated fan bases in two of the biggest cities in the country and made himself public enemy #1 throughout the state of Ohio.
What is he? A guy who enjoyed all of the attention he got during the “Summer of LeBron.” He had some of the most accomplished talent evaluators and head coaches in the NBA coming to kiss his rings and proclaim how much they loved him and needed him. They released players and gutted their teams for him. They hired coaches based on a wink and a promise of “Maybe”.
What is he? A guy who doesn’t understand what he just did to the state of Ohio. To have the nerve to come on television and get pissed off that people aren’t taking his decision to take a max contract and walk away from them is the height of gall. LeBron was built in Ohio, made in Ohio, and revered in Ohio. And now, the first chance he gets, he walks out the front door and has the nerve to look back and go “Now Don’t Get Mad. This is Business.” And to think that Cleveland would have traded you, would have been complicit in any way in trading the greatest Cav ever? Come on Man. Right now, LeBron, you’re standing next to Art Modell as the most hated man in the state of Ohio. Was that worth it? LeBron could have stayed in Cleveland and given a loyal sports fan base who got slapped across the face time and time again the most valuable thing they could have had: Hope. Instead of that, instead of feeling like finally they got their first bit of good luck going, he smashed them in the face and then expected them to like it.
What he isn’t? A winner. A Champion. Here’s how you know. Instead of taking his own team and winning with it he admitted that he wasn’t ready, and went with 2 other superstars. The immortals from generations past and present wouldn’t have done it. They would have stayed and battled with their own crews.
All along, I thought LeBron was special. Every mistake, and he made his fair share for a legendary player, I tried my best to defend. Paul Silas getting fired (allegedly) on LeBron’s say so? Hey he’s a young kid, and after all, Paul Silas hasn’t coached since. LeBron shoots a magazine cover where he’s living out a Mandingo fantasy? Whatever. It’s just a picture. LeBron having not developed a reliable jumper or a low-post game in seven years? He can still drive to the basket, and besides, his supporting cast was terrible.
At a certain point, though, I realized who he is. He is a guy who doesn’t have the singular fire to win. It does not consume him. That’s ok. It’s not meant for everyone to be like Russell, Jordan, Bird, Magic, or Kobe. But to imply that LeBron is there, that he stands in the same locker room with them, is false.
Now I know some people will think that this is hating. Do that if you wish. But understand that I look at this as a fan first. Close your eyes for a second, all of you. Picture yourself as a fan of the Cavs who is about 18. You grew up with LeBron. You were heartbroken when they lost in the finals to the Spurs, gutted when they didn’t make it back the next two years. And now, just when you think you have a shot to do it, the face of your franchise, the man who rescued it, walks right out the front door.
I’m sorry LeBron. But for the good of this league, for the good of all of the other smaller markets, you have to lose. I’m sorry. You just have to lose.