I will never apologize for attempting to capture lightening rod moments with an alternative eye. History is very important and judging how some events have passed through time documented by writers of superficial pen, those scribes with a fearless passion for the truth must step up and do what’s right or history will be a lie. It’s obvious the Miami Heat will dominate most discussions this NBA season so I thought it would be interesting to have something archived now for what is to NBA be. I recently spent three weeks in Cleveland and was honored to cover LeBron’s return. That piece will be posted at a later date because I saw things that night that haven’t been reported. The questions below were sent out all over the web to mainly writers of diverse ilk and a few insiders who have my tremendous respect. There has to be different voices in an age where media giants mold the 24 hour news cycle and create perceptions of events simply to further their brand. I understand the concept, but much gets lost in an era where readers want copy quick, Quick, QUICK. LeBron James is a polarizing sports figure. He’s as gifted as any athlete who has ever lived and as he finds his prime there is some business he has yet to accomplish. Unfortunately, his career will be seen by some as a failure if he fails to win a ring. He along with Dywane Wade and Chris Bosh put the sports world on notice when they decided to link up with hopes of doing just that and form South Beach Soultron (as I call them). The season has been difficult and it appeared the scrutiny wore on the three twenty something stars before the Heat caught fire and now have a current winning streak of nine. The questions were sent out on December 1…a day before the big game…things have changed since then huh? You all know me, I ask a lot of questions and some were simply asked to gauge the response as the season moves forward…
Some simply ignored the email (which is fine). Others called, told me in person, sent text messages or hit me on twitter and facebook to respectfully decline because they were busy. There also were a few writers who chose to send responses that didn’t fit this particular format. I thank those folk for taking the time out and writing something but I couldn’t run those responses as is. Then I had this type of response which gave me a chuckle. Do you young fella. I wish you well. Enough of me running my mouth…to the questions…
These are three good guys (by current athlete standards), why are they so hated (besides The Decision) and what does that say about society?
Tariq al Haydar, PhD student at George Washington University/ Lecturer at King Saud University:
I realize that LeBron James left Cleveland in a way that was distasteful. That being said, I wonder how loyalty figures into the way we think about team sports. From a fan perspective, if you root for a team and then abandon said team, or if you root for a team from another city, your loyalty is put into question. For example, it doesn’t matter that Dan Snyder is exploiting Redskins fans, local sports radio hosts and Redskins fans look down on DC residents who root for the Eagles, Cowboys or other teams. By the same token, no matter what a player does for a team, if that same player expresses a desire to leave that team for any reason, he turns into public enemy number 1. To put it simply: Is it contradictory to demand loyalty from fans and players when owners make decisions purely based on business considerations?
So many reasons, none of them very good. Perception is valued more than reality, and the perception is focused, for whatever the reason, on the negative things. The perceptions of arrogance, entitlement, narcissism, ego. The perception doesn’t get to be, hey, they sacrificed $50 million and parts of their game to try this great experiment. I don’t get why it isn’t closer to the middle, why the noise is so loud that the focus on the sacrifice is at least mentioned somewhere in the railing against arrogance, entitlement, ego and all the things for which that one-hour tv show seems to be a microcosm. We all kind of missed that night that LeBron was giving millions to charity, but that’s where we are, trafficking on the foibles of the famous. Reality TV isn’t real, and neither is the way we viewed the Reality TV generation. We make it one-dimensional. You can be the bad guy, and only that. Now Kobe Bryant gets to be the unicorn. I would say, as a generalization, that what it says about a sports society is that we are getting, if not dumber, less capable of nuance.”
Neville Waters is the President & Founder of The Waters Group a consulting firm specializing in communications, strategic marketing, content development and career management. He is a proud native Washingtonian whose first job was to be a ball boy for the Washington Caps of the ABA:
Since race always matters (thanks brotha Cornell) I think we may over-reach if race is emphasized too much. It seems to me two greater factors influence the reaction: 1) their arrogance in presuming championships when their collective backgrounds didn’t indicate any championship pedigree; 2) sports fans & media love to create an adversary.
Dan Levy is host of On the DL Podcast and spends most of the day writing about the world of sports & media:
I think that LeBron has become a bona fide villain in sports, so much so that Nike is even marketing him that way. I’m not sure the other two are even hated, and if so it’s certainly more by proxy than by their own doing. As for what it says about society? It’s too easy to say we build people up just so we can knock them down, but when we do build someone like LeBron up, we expect him — unrealistically — to carry himself at that high standard forever. When he doesn’t, it’s brick by brick until he falls.
Chris Cason, writer Chicago Bulls Examiner, contributor to Hoop Magazine:
I wouldn’t say hated in regards to Wade and Bosh. In LeBron’s case, sports fans and media alike had already began contrasting LeBron’s every achievement to Michael Jordan as soon as he entered the league and with that comes the responsibility of living up to those expectations of leading a team to a title. LeBron not only was unable to do that, but left his home town team in order to pursue a title with 2 other All-Stars, instead of building upon the success that Cleveland had been having sans the shortcomings in the playoffs.
What it says about us as a society is we pay too much attention into what is written and who is saying what instead of independently coming to our own opinions. Hate is nothing but ignorance if you don’t have your own morals or judgment behind it. Wade and Bosh are only hated because now, they are affiliated with LeBron. People can say they hate him all they want, but unless you know him, are from Cleveland or have been wronged by him personally, you’re just going to give an answer that’s recycled so many times by sports-writers and other critics who wanted to write his story and he changed all of that by going the way in which he choose to.
Dax-Devlon Ross, Esq. is a true man of letters. He writes non-fiction, fiction and poetry. He is a thoughtful commentator on popular culture, a student of African-American history and a skilled journalist with an eye for detail and an ear for an intriguing story. Dax has been formally trained in jurisprudence, philosophy, American literature and secondary education. His interests also include music (particularly Jazz and Hip-Hop), the outsider in society, sports (particularly as they relate to and impact culture), politics, economics, justice and education. In addition to authoring five books, Dax is the co-publisher of Outside the Box Publishing, LLC, and the editor of the arts and culture blog The HNIC Report, and the co-founder of the basketball blog 3 From Deep. Mr. Ross is a sought after speaker and consultant who teaches workshops on a range of subjects pertaining to popular culture. You can also follow the progress of his latest project Make Me Believe. You can find Dax on Facebook as well as on Twitter, and contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org:
I don’t think they’re hated at all. Sports thrive on myths and myths require people to play the archetypal roles that we’re accustomed to (i.e. hero, villain, etc). The modern NBA is widely perceived as a soft league full of chummy players. The dominant myth of the old NBA was that the best player and teams despised each other. Some of the most compelling and memorable basketball moments – the ones that are still talked about twenty, thirty years later – involve fights, brawls, and hard fouls. We may watch today’s game for the competition on the floor, but we pay attention to the sport itself because of the human interest angle. Sports, like the rest of the entertainment industry, offer a larger than life window into the ongoing human drama that we are all consumed by. I genuinely don’t think the reaction to and fascination with Miami’s Big Three suggests anything that we didn’t already know about the 21st Century America. Or about 20th, 19th, or 18th Century America.
I can’t speak for anyone else besides myself, and I don’t think you would expect me too. I disliked it because, at its core, it felt to me like a guy who was saying he couldn’t do what he had set out to do without significant help. Also, it came directly off of 2 consecutive sub-standard postseason games which made me think that he would have wanted to not let that be the last time we saw him in the postseason.
Kenny Masenda: writer, Ed the Sports Fan:
The sole reason I think they are hated by society is they had the foresight to take their future into their own hands. Three young Black men let their skills dictate their future. Add that to the fact they had general managers, presidents, and others with credentials, loads of formal education, and notoriety clamoring at their feet, and it’s just something I don’t think society was prepared for. In my opinion, it was one of the most gratifying scenes I’ve seen play out, sports-wise, in my lifetime.
Pam Chvotkin, Blogger/Photographer, Wizards Extreme:
People feel that it is more about greed and salary than the franchise future.
Diallo Tyson, contributing writer Ehow.com:
It wasn’t The Decision, it was The Performance. The Victory Celebration for championships not yet won. The Spectacle. The Bosh Bellow. When the three of them rose up out of that stage, the majority of the nation felt a little bile rise to the back of their throats. The Lakers had just repeated as World Champions, but these cats were acting like they had won the last five. That rubbed people the wrong way. I thought it was a farce. Rick Flair thought it was a little over the top. The immediate reaction was “These guys think they’ve already won,” and “These guys think it’s going to be a cakewalk to the Finals.” From that point on they turned into the Miami Hate. I think what it says about society is, we don’t mind if you enjoy the spoils of war as long as you actually win the damn war. They hadn’t fired the first shot before they were bedding the villages maidens and drinking the King’s rum.
Sandy Dover: Novelist/writer, artist, fitness enthusiast (and advisor/trainer). Columnist for SLAM magazine (The San Dova Speak-Easy); senior contributor to Buckets and Playmaker magazines. Contributing author to America Now: Short Readings from Recent Periodicals by Robert Atwan (8th ed., 2009)
“Three good guys” by athletic measures, yes. The public has shown contempt for them, individually, for different reasons, though. Chris Bosh has been a moron as far as I’m concerned. In a way, I think he damaged his brand via Twitter. All of those untimely Tweets about his free agent options while the NBA season was going on (even if he wasn’t playing) were just bad, plain and simple. Dywane Wade had his issues with the divorce thing with Siohvaughn, but that didn’t hurt him so much; in fact, he hasn’t suffered the hit, in part because he struggled so publicly with those horrible Miami teams since winning the championship in 2006, and he’s arguably been the best player on the planet two out of the past four years. And LeBron James…he really did himself in years ago, when Maverick Carter and the rest of the Four Horsemen got all of that exclusive access with the Cleveland Cavaliers. People who watched the Cavs closely had an idea of the amount of brown-nosing that the Cavs were doing to placate LeBron, but I think his leaving coupled with those ambiguous games he played in the Boston Celtics playoff series in May 2010 left a horrible taste in fans’ mouths.
They’re hated together in two senses: the first sense is the idea that there’s now a schemed super-team that will dominate the league. This appeals to an almost-comic book setting, as if they are the Sinister Six or The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants (don’t judge me with the comic knowledge, lol). This is clearly a “fun” sort of disdain, but the biting hate…I don’t understand where that comes from. I can assume that it may have some roots in ethnic bias, considering the large Anglo population of fans that can afford to attend games, but I also think that fandom is romanticized, and with LeBron and Bosh leaving to become a conglomerate power of sorts, it’s like being spat in the face to fans who believe in that romance.
Ray Lokar: Positive Coaching Alliance, Southern California Lead Trainer, Stanford University Athletic Dept.
Has there ever been a team covered with as much scrutiny at the beginning of a season than the Miami Heat has at the dawn of the 2010-11 NBA season? I would only say… be careful what you wish for, you just might get it. The scrutiny has been brought on by their actions and now that they’ve made their own bed, they must lie in it. So is it justified? LeBron has been set up for this scrutiny since high school, some he brought on himself, some of it no fault of his own. The national media exposure (TV games, books, documentaries, etc) was not his fault, although those around him allowed it to happen and benefited from it is well. However LeBron contributed to it as well as he embraced the MJ comparisons while saying he wanted to be “a global icon.” That will turn up the expectations, across the board, for sure. At that point you better play, and act, accordingly. Jordan was the first real global basketball player and in such made the largest impact on the game today. LBJ was expected to carry the torch. Instead he may have taken the baton from Wilt “nobody loves the giant” Chamberlain. Wilt had the ability to be the greatest, but for a myriad of reasons played on a number of teams and had the misfortune of playing in the same era as Bill Russell. By changing teams, LeBron tried to avoid the plight of Oscar Robertson, playing in a small-market with limited resources, and never getting as much credit as he may have deserved.
Clarence Gaines II – Youth Sports Advocate – Twitter Junkie – Former NBA scout – Son of Big House, Thoughtful & Observant. Never considered myself a writer. I write for me. To crystallize my thoughts and to impact, educate, and influence.
Hatred is a strong word. Hatred may only apply to some Cleveland Cavs fans antipathy towards LeBron. Reason for hatred is obvious; LeBron is their Judas Iscariot. Bosh doesn’t register on most fan’s radar and nobody can begrudge Dwayne Wade for wanting help in Miami. What it says about society is that we are emotional, vindictive, unforgiving, passionate, very human and have misplaced priorities.
Myles Brown, contributing writer, SLAM Magazine (and TSF founding member):
Right or wrong, I believe the excitement surrounding last summer’s free agency was about the idea of parity. Arguably the league’s two best players on the market at the same time? It was completely unprecedented and the possibilities were practically limitless. Renewing the New York v. Chicago rivalry? Or New York v. Miami? Even Brooklyn v. New York was floating through some folks minds. Except no one considered that they’d be playing for the same team. The people wanted to see competition, not dominance. The Lakers and the Celtics are still competitive, but they’re also relatively old. This summer shaped the league for the next six years, essentially the prime of both LeBron and Dwyane’s careers. The classic showdowns those two engaged in were suddenly a thing of the past. There would be no more clashes of the titans, just a juggernaut running roughshod over the landscape. It was beyond disappointing and while there was no definitive proof, there was sufficient evidence to consider that they’d had this planned for quite some time. Many of us felt, well, hoodwinked.
So yes, aside from the occasional displays of ego, these were good guys. They said and did the right things for seven years while staying out of the police blotter, which is a particularly low standard, but acceptable nonetheless. But what this decision says about society is that whatever disdain we may hold for an athlete turned criminal, we are far less forgiving of any perceived crimes committed against the sport itself.
Is that fair? Are all athletes beholden to the will of the public and subject to our scornful disapproval? Well that all depends on how you feel about the old adage of the customer always being right.
Damon Smith is a relationship columnist for Kansas City’s INK magazine, blogger (The innovative site, This May Concern You) and freelance journalist who previously worked as sports reporter for The Kansas City Star.
They’re disliked by society because they circumvented the system to do what they wanted to do. Anytime anyone in society does this there will be backlash. It’s clear that the seeds of this plan were planted long ago and that July’s free agency parade was more a game of charades. People don’t like being toyed with like that.
Asya Shein founded the lifestyle marketing and event listings portal, Fusicology.com. Raised in Toronto, attended Wayne State University in Detroit while promoting events and booking DJ’s & bands. In ’98, relocated to Chicago, worked at 2 independent house music labels and later founded the agency, Mir Media representing artists such as ?uestlove, Common, J Dilla, Erykah Badu and many others. After moving to Los Angeles in 2000, Asya founded Fusicology.com in 2003, a site dedicated to progressive music, events and culture specializing in online event promotion, new media and branding “Defining the Soul Diaspora”:
I think that EGO (edging God out) has a lot to do with it, it was like he exposed himself as something above human and those South Beach parties didn’t help. First, play with your team, prove your “worth” as a team and THEN go buck wild at All Star Weekend, not pre-season.
Everything about it was so crafted, from the rumors that the three had been discussing the possibility since the 2008 Olympics to Miami giving away a guy (Beasley) who was a top two pick in the draft just a couple seasons ago to get further under the cap to the rumors that scoops were getting fed to preferred media members … there was just an element involved that seemed like the players, Pat Riley, LeBron’s people and certain media members were just playing everyone. That part of it felt annoying, watching it unfold as a fan of the NBA.
But as a rational, thinking human being? Covering sports, I’m often alarmed at how much love/hate fans invest in players. It’s really frightening. I love passion. I couldn’t work or have outlets and audiences to write for without passion. Hell, I couldn’t have (hopefully) interesting things to write about if I didn’t have passion for sports myself. But to hate someone I’ve never met? To burn someone’s jersey? I can’t relate to those feelings at all. There are athletes whose personas I dislike. There are elements to how this thing played out in Miami that I think are wholly uninteresting and self-serving on the parts of Bosh, Wade, James, Riley, etc. But to hate them for it? Come on. I just can’t understand taking it to that level.
John Gorman lives in Buffalo, NY and is editor-in-chief at Gossip Sports. He still hasn’t forgiven the Buffalo Braves for taking their talents to SoCal:
There are two types of people in society. Those who limit themselves, and those who do not. Those who limit themselves shun success that didn’t directly occur as a result of hard work and loyalty. These are the types of folks who hate the Yankees, lament big-market teams and running up the score, wait for opportunities to open up as a reward for paying their dues, do what they’re told and settle for what’s safe. This probably accurately describes most people. What LeBron, Wade and Bosh did was decide not to limit themselves. They saw an opportunity to do what they wanted and they went out and achieved it. They took less money. They made the contracts work. They (in LeBron’s case) stiff-armed their hometown or trying to win a championship “the hard way”, by alone being the centerpiece of a championship team. They are people who don’t believe in limitations. People who don’t say subconsciously, “I don’t deserve this, I didn’t earn it.” No, they went out and got what they wanted. And that upsets many people, because they wish it were that easy.
The players had control. How does this differ from administrative decisions teams make all the time?
Neville Waters: Management, regardless of the industry, is paid & expected to make personnel decisions. Rarely do employees have the ability to fully dictate he terms of their employment.
Chris Cason: It differs greatly. It showed that there was a true commitment to trying to put together the best talent right away to have a serious shot to contend right from the beginning and well into the future. There is no way this team could have been put together by a front office because it’s almost impossible, unless all three of these player’s were close to the twilight years of their careers, ala Boston Celtics.
Dax Devlon-Ross: What the negative reaction to the players taking control of their own destiny said to me was that most people are still operating in a 20th Century industrial-era framework. They still believe the people in suits should have more say so then the people in uniforms. To me Ii says more about how we’ve all been socialized to believe certain people should make decisions and others should simply live with them. Whether we articulate it or not, the implicit suggestion is that the people in suits are more knowledgeable and capable than the people in uniforms therefore they should be the ones making the big decisions.
Okori Wadsworth: It truthfully doesn’t. Save for the fact that there might have been more thinking to how this would work from an on-court perspective, it was basically the same basic principle.
Kenny Masenda: I would have advised him to be cognizant of the backlash of what he was doing. Besides that, everything else was fine with me. The man helped provide a spotlight for the Boys and Girls Club of America, helped raise money for them, etc. People say he should have called Dan Gilbert to let him know of his plans. Newsflash: when it is the other way around, companies will not call you ahead of time to tell you they don’t need you anymore. You go to work, and then they tell you they don’t need you anymore. The best way to cure a PR disaster is to win. As long as he does that, the PR will take care of itself.
Pam Chvotkin: Often with the NBA, NFL, NHL, players are the last to find out about trades and executive decisions and are forced to adapt to these game changing situations. In this event, however, the tables were turned where the players had the control. But did they? Did Udonis Haslem really have a say in the decision making process? Usually decisions are made for the good of the team rather than the good of the player. People are always concerned about the economic issue of players salaries and cap space and its impact on team rosters.
Diallo Tyson: If you view it from an absolute perspective, disregarding how they did it, it’s really no different from what teams do. It was actually more humane. Imagine if players were able to leave their teams and sign with who they wanted to, regardless of their contract situation. Teams can trade players at will, with no warning and no regard. At least Toronto and Cleveland knew it was possible they were losing them.
Sandy Dover: It doesn’t differ, but considering how players are always seemingly supposed to be seen and not heard, and not make huge waves—despite the fact that they are the reason that people care in the first place—it’s a shift in the culture of player power. The majority of NBA critics usually point to the high salaries of the players and assume that they are somehow selfish, demanding and inherently greedy, without acknowledging or totally ignorant of the fact that the owners are even more rich—wealthy even (cue Chris Rock saying, “Shaq is rich—the…man who signs his checks? HE’S WEALTHY!”)—and it hurts the players’ collective reputation as free agents. Again, the idea that super-teams can be based on player relationships and not the “creativity” of a front office may bother some people. And that’s not even hitting at the idea that there may be an issue with people not caring for young, rich African American men making those types of executive decisions.
Ray Lokar: I’m not certain I’ve ever heard anyone dispute the fact the players had every right to choose their team, based on the free agency that they had earned. In fact I don’t hear anyone being very negative about Bosh joining the Heat, and I certainly hear nothing negative about Wade re-signing. HOW LeBron made The Decision and the ensuing dance party in Miami to introduce the players is what really turned fandom against them.
If LBJ did everything the same but chose to stay in Cleveland it would have been a love-fest. The fact he essentially broke up with his girlfriend on National TV it turned him into the villain in the general publics eyes. Imagine calling a big party to announce whether you’re going to marry a long-time fiancee – or break up with her. You could name it “The Disaster.” Especially after pledging lifetime allegiance, as LBJ did when he was quoted as saying he had no interest in “…chasing rings, he The Decision was Lebron’s version of The Bachelor…”Miami…will you accept this rose?” When that happens on the TV show, there is always nationwide sentiment for the lover scorned. This is no different. A simple press-conference (like every other free-agent in the history of sports) would have tempered much of the anger.
A disaster of equal proportions was the ensuing dance party in Miami to introduce “The Three Kings.” The rock-star entrance followed by the on stage interview was filled with bulletin-board fodder for all. From the moderator saying “visitors beware… enter at your own risk!” to Wade saying they are “…arguably the best trio to ever play the game of basketball” might cause those of us that remember some great trios of the past to take pause and also cause comedians to joke about “Two-and-a-Half Men”. Following that up with saying “I feel sorry for the team that’s gotta guard both of us” might have been enough bulletin board material to last a career. That is, until LeBron spoke, saying that after practice “once the game starts things are gonna be easy” and talking about the number of expected Championships “not 4, not 5, not 6 …” which immediately set the Heat up as the team everyone loved to hate. The perceived arrogance to believe that a simple accumulation of “talent” could produce those kind of results has been the cause for piling on after every loss.
Clarence Gaines: Players always have limited control when they’re unrestricted free agents. Limited, because not every team can meet their pay demands due to the salary cap. I don’t see what all the fuss is about. High profile players have always tried to help recruit free agents to their teams to put them over the top. Dwayne Wade stayed in Miami and helped recruit two players that he thought would help him and the Miami Heat win championships. A better question would be How does this situation differ from other player decisions. Management decisions don’t necessarily align with players’ viewpoint/decisions. Seriously, how is this situation from a player/team perspective any different from Shaquille/Orlando to Lakers or Horace Grant/Chicago to Orlando. What it does say about decision making on both sides is that management & players decisions don’t always work out as well as they planned.
Myles Brown: Ultimately, I think we were fine with the players holding control, as long as we approved of their decision. Again, that was the essence of the initial excitement. No trades, no draft, no bumbling GM, but an opportunity for Bron & Wade to control their own destinies. To survey the available rosters and choose whichever best suited their talents. Who wouldn’t want that for them? While a fan base somewhere was bound to be disappointed, I still believe the people would have been accepting of whatever was best for the league. I don’t consider the response to the decision a referendum on free agency, but a reflection of these particular individuals. Nothing more. I’d still like to see a similar opportunity arise in the future, hopefully with different results.
Damon Smith: It’s the employees taking power that the employers have, and rendering the administrative staff to clerical work. They made the decision to build a team, instead of having it assembled by a general manager. That’s the only real difference. Thanks to free agency, some elite athletes have had control of their futures for a few decades. But rarely have you seen players choose to mold a team as they see fit.
Asya Shein: They need to be careful with the friends and the people that represent them – admin will do what they do but you can have some control if you have the right people representing you.
Patrick Hayes: It’s not entirely different. Team management makes cold decisions based solely on business when it comes to players all the time. James, Wade and Bosh made a cold, business-based decision on where to play.
But I will say that fans typically don’t react well when management makes those types of decisions involving getting rid of star players or beloved players. Had Dan Gilbert, right when the season ended with the disappointing series against Boston, published his a slightly modified version of his famous rant on the Cavs website at that moment, saying basically he doesn’t think LeBron is a winner so Cleveland is not going to try and re-sign him, I’m positive that people in Cleveland would be as pissed at Gilbert then as they are at James now.
John Gorman: Karl Marx would be proud. Peasant’s revolt. Athletics are now a socialist state. Except in this case, the peasants have seven-figure salaries and shoe deals.
If you were a publicist, how would you have advised LeBron in regards to what has become a public relations disaster…The Decision?
Neville Waters: Shut up
Dan Levy: I wouldn’t have let Jim Gray in the same state. There is no way in hell I would have let anyone ask about my fingernails before I announced to which city my talents were being taken. We were hijacked for nearly an hour and it made whatever LeBron said — even if he said Cleveland — secondary.
I wouldn’t have created the ruse that it needed to be in Connecticut at a Boys and Girls Club because I was in NYC for Carmelo’s wedding and then jetset down to Miami BEFORE THE WEDDING to have a celebration with Bosh and Wade. That was ridiculous.
Last, and this is the most important, I NEVER would have said that I wasn’t sure what city I was going to until I woke up that day, then completely refute that idea — a BS notion in the first place — less than a week later when stories came out that I knew it was Miami all along. If there’s anything that loses favor with the general public, it’s being treated like idiots. LeBron (and Gray) treated us like idiots.
Chris Cason: Just to give the Cavaliers warning that there is a chance that I won’t be resigning back. I really think that this was a very hard choice for him to make and not an easy one. If there was going to be a decision, and it’s going to be a 30 minute program, 15 of those minutes are going to thanking the Cleveland fans who have been with him and behind him for seven years and apologizing that he wasn’t able to deliver him what he had promised them and got them expecting. I respect what he did for the Boys and Girls Club, but he hurt an entire state with that programming. There was no easy way to say goodbye, but there is always a classy way of handling business.
Dax Devlon-Ross: I would have nixed that melodramatic Nike commercial in favor of a gritty, hungry, LeBron in the gym working harder than he’s ever worked in his life commercial. If there’s one thing we know about Americans it’s that we’re suckers for hard workers. If we’d seen him in a grainy, sweaty weight room or gym pushing himself beyond his pain threshold ( a la Kobe post-rape trial) then we would have forgotten his diva-ish summer. The failure of LeBron’s camp was not missing the opportunity to show genuine remorse for a boneheaded move, it’s the ongoing failure to evolve LeBron’s brand to counter his prima donna perception
Kenny Masenda: I would have advised him to be cognizant of the backlash of what he was doing. Besides that, everything else was fine with me. The man helped provide a spotlight for the Boys and Girls Club of America, helped raise money for them, etc. People say he should have called Dan Gilbert to let him know of his plans. Newsflash: when it is the other way around, companies will not call you ahead of time to tell you they don’t need you anymore. You go to work, and then they tell you they don’t need you anymore. The best way to cure a PR disaster is to win. As long as he does that, the PR will take care of itself.
Pam Chvotkin: While his intentions to promote and benefit The Boys and Girls Clubs of America, it was more focused on gained marketability for other sponsors (even though they donated as well) and particularly himself. I would advise to keep a low profile. With the media as exposed as it is today, re: twitter, facebook, camera phones, etc. Everyone is a member of the media or paparazzi in some way, willing to exploit anyone recognizable for personal or professional gain/benefit.
Diallo Tyson: A simple press conference. No large production. For God’s sake, no Jim Gray. No prop kids. No ESPN special. A simple press conference would’ve sufficed. He would contact the Cavs an hour or two before the press conference to let them know of his decision. He didn’t owe it to them, but sometimes it’s best to the things you don’t have to. Moms go hoarse telling their kids that. I would have had a speech writer pen an opening statement thanking the Cavalier organization, the players by name, the city of Cleveland, etc for supporting him for seven years. Then I would have him state that he was going to play for the Heat. “Take my talents to South Beach” has been sufficiently and appropriately derided. Then I’d have him state 2-3 reasons why he made the move. Take a couple of softball questions, and get the flock out of there. Clevelanders would be hurt, of course, but the blow would’ve been softened. Unfortunately he decided to star in The Courtship of LeBron’s Ego, and here we are.
Sandy Dover: As a publicist, I would’ve seriously laid out all of the options that LeBron had in disclosing his decision. I would’ve gone over all of the positives and negatives of each option, and paired up with him on a mutual decision that was levelheaded and agreeable. Honestly, there’s wasn’t much wrong with “The Decision” as a broadcast, but there probably should’ve been an announcement of his decision one or two days prior to the interview; that way, it would not have been such a catastrophic development for the organization and city, and it would have given fans some time to be able to deal with the transition. Letting the Cavaliers know much earlier would’ve been nice.
In truth, LBJ did a great thing in raising money for charity, but that was a way (in my opinion) for his cronies to say, “Look, he’s not selfish—look what he did for the kids!”, not that he doesn’t care to do charity, as we all know he’s active in giving back to Akron.
Clarence Gaines: That’s what’s wrong with our world today. People consulting publicists. Relying on their posse and friends, who don’t have the life experiences or the objectivity to guide them down the right path. LeBron was in a no-win situation no matter how he announced The Decision. He messed up on two counts, not so much the ESPN program and definitely not in the money he raised for The Boys & Girls Club, but in the caviler manner in which the message was delivered as well as the post decision celebration in Miami. My message to LBJ is simple, be who you are but also be sensitized to those around you. Grow up, respect others and develop your emotional intelligence.
Myles Brown: The problem wasn’t even LeBron doing the special in itself. This was an unprecedented event and deserved the coverage it received. The problem was that he did it by himself. If in actuality this was about team and sacrifice, then why did Bosh and Wade announce a day earlier with such little fanfare while Bron commandeered the spotlight the following night? The best way for him to deflect any backlash would have been to announce his decision alongside his new teammates. A show of solidarity, a collective unit would have been far more presentable than the display of megalomania we all witnessed. I still find it baffling that during what must have been weeks of planning this event, no one ever considered that it wasn’t a good idea. If in fact they did and proceeded anyway, then that is either unfathomable hubris or remarkable naivete.
Damon Smith: To paraphrase the great Andre Benjamin, Don’t do it. Reconsider. Read some of the material that’s out there about the decision that you’re about to make so that you’re not tone deaf in concern with the way you’re going to announce your plans. I’d tell LeBron that the best way to get out would be to just to leak the story to the necessary media members beforehand, and then hold a press conference where he takes questions from the media, much like any other free agent does when he signs with a new team. Nothing special.
Asya Shein: Give $1M to a Cleveland Charity, another 1M to a Miami charity – do good, you’ll be seen as better.
Patrick Hayes: Pretty simple: DON’T DO IT!
LeBron’s undeservedly taken a lot of shit for employing his friends as his marketing team rather than leaving the image-crafting to seasoned P.R. professionals. I have to admit, part of me finds it kind of charming. He takes care of his guys. Who can’t relate to that? I think we’d all hope we’d have that kind of loyalty to our people if we attained what LeBron has in his career. You better believe I’m giving my underachieving little brother a job, even if he’s unqualified, if I’m in a position to do it. Maybe LeBron’s friends are dipshits like my brother can be, I don’t know. But he loves them and tries to look out for them, which is admirable.
That being said, whichever clowns came up with ‘The Decision’ really hurt James from a business standpoint. They cost him a lot of money, potentially. And in the real world they would (and would deserve) to be fired.
John Gorman: I would have told him to just let the news leak like every other free agent does, and deal with the wrath in that way. He set himself up for the criticism he takes not because of what he did, but because of how it was marketed and broadcast.
Do you think the Heat’s on court issues will be fixed as they also scratch and claw through the off court stuff?
Dan LeBatard: Yes. Because they are great talents. They’ll be one of the four of five teams in this sport that matters. I’d like to see them healthy. But the noise around this team is such, making meaningless games feel meaningful, that one of the things lost in this is that these 82 games are simply preseason. These 82 games are Dream Team practices and tournaments before the Olympics. We’ve lost perspective when it comes to this team, which is fun but also silly, so game 17 somehow matters. Game 17 NEVER matters. Never in the history of the league. I think there’s a combination of things here. Maybe some of it is that LeBron and Dywane have similar games and there’s difficulty in that coexisting. Or maybe it is ALSO that Wade has hamstring, wrist and thumb issues he is trying to play through and doesn’t look at all like the efficient Wade we’re used to. He missed two dunks in the first quarter against the Wizards. He isn’t finishing and his mid-range game is gone. You can put some of that on LeBron, I suppose, if you are really eager to put things on LeBron, but two dunks? He’s getting his shot blocked. He leads the league in staying back to complain to refs. He’s not himself, and I have to think part of that is because he is hurt.
Neville Waters: There is no fixing an aging front court, limited point guard & weak bench.
Dan Levy: The Heat will be fine. It’s only 18 games into a long season. I don’t get why people are freaking out.
Chris Cason: There will always be off the court issues because they are still figuring themselves out and with all the attention still being on them, frustration and anger will spill over into headline-worthy quotes. For every loss, it’s like 10 losses for them and it’s treated like that. Every game, there’s a press conference, so it’s like an 82 game postseason for those 3. I just think everyone should enjoy their struggles now because eventually, they’re going to get it together and it won’t be pretty. There are obvious issues that need to be addressed, like a true low-post presence. That would help a lot, but with teams being unwilling to help them in trades, it will have to be done through the draft and free agency. The bad thing about this entire situation is they aren’t going to be given the benefit of the doubt, so even with the injuries and the struggles, they will still be held to a championship standard.
Dax Devlon-Ross: It’s inevitable. The real problem is that Wade and LeBron are figuring out how to play with someone else who needs (and has earned the right to demand) the ball in order to be effective. It’s that simple.
Okori Wadsworth: Yes, but not without a massive 2nd-half sprint. Basically, at its core, this is a perfect example of 2 guys who have always been the leaders of their clans trying to ascertain who is the leader now. In a lot of ways, it’s the sort of things that you would have read about in Japanese samurai novels. My only hope is that we don’t get in a situation where LeBron and D-Wade end up dueling with katanas in Biscayne Bay. (that was a joke, by the way.) But to be honest, it’s also an ill-constructed team. There’s no point-guard, the big men are poor low-box defenders, and it’s a team that needs to pressure the ball on defense and fast-break on offense but doesn’t have the tools to.
Kenny Masenda: Absolutely. Basketball is an easy game. I think the Heat are making this harder than it has to be. LeBron should be a facilitator, Wade a scorer, and Bosh should rebound and defend. It’s really that simple. Everyone else will fall in line, but that’s hard to do when your three best players are making this transition more difficult than it has to be.
Pam Chvotkin: In acquiring these players, people expected win after win and nothing less. I don’t think on court issues will be fixed immediately as they are on and off the court. As with any new changes to any team, players must adapt to the comfortability factor and sharing a spotlight, where there was only one superstar previously. It then becomes a battle of egos as well as the ability to adapt quickly.
Diallo Tyson: If by fixed you mean they will get it together and win 50 games? Sure. LeBron is too good of a player to let them miss the playoffs. He will eventually damn the torpedoes and put the team on his back, and will them to respectability. But their lack of inside presence and cohesive offensive philosophy will doom them in the playoffs. Haslem is out. Bosh can’t bang. And their offense is like an improve group. Coach Spo throws out suggestions, they just make stuff up on the fly, then the audience laughs. A first round exit isn’t out of the question.
Sandy Dover: I have no idea. The idea of the Heat being so dominant was based in part on LeBron’s natural ability to play point guard, but he’s distanced himself away from that particular role. Also, Miami foolishly signed old players and overvalued the idea of “veteran presence” in said players, and now guys are going down left and right, and there are little options that provide youthful athleticism and the like. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again—Chris Bosh is a good player, but he’s not great. He wasn’t a good fit, because he’s not a true low-post presence. He’s nimble, he’s wiry, he’s skilled, but those attributes sound closer to Wade than a paint presence. At this point, Bosh is a marked man, and it’s not going to be easier for him this year.
As for the off-court stuff, even though I like LeBron as a player, it’s been well-documented that he’s not particularly “easy” to deal with and isn’t particularly seen as nice; polite and civil, yes. His handlers play a big part in that, but also, it’s a valid question of whether he wants to be coached, and though it may be unfair to compare, Michael Jordan took coaching; Larry Bird took coaching; Magic took SOME coaching, as he was responsible for the ouster of Paul Westhead as head coach early in his career.
Ray Lokar: As to their early season on-court woes “The Big Three” might be a bit of a misnomer. While Bosh is a nice player, he still is just a skilled, face-up 4 man that piled up a bunch of stats on a bad team. In my opinion he is no more worthy of being called one of a “The Big Three” than is Lamar Odom to go with Kobe and Gasol. He certainly isn’t an inside presence that will live up to Pat Riley’s mantra – “Rebounds Win Rings!” With all their resources going to three players, the rest of the TEAM is seriously lacking in point guard play and any sense of physicality inside. As the roster evolves – this could change, but the Heat need to learn to use each others talents to create a bit more synergy, and at the moment they are simply limited.
While Wade and LeBron are two of the most gifted players in the NBA – they also possess similar skill sets. In the half-court system they are presently playing, they are simply taking turns “doing what they do” while the other one watches and awaits his turn – while Bosh just “chills.” If Wade and James were not each others teammate they might just do the same thing – just twice as often and still be as effective. Every once in a while it seems they remember Bosh was in on the deal and throw him bone too, while they watch him do his thing. Having both Wade and LBJ does not necessarily cause an additional quandary on defensive match ups because you need to use different size players to guard them anyway. The brain trust of the Heat, whether that’s Spoelstra or Riley, really need to do some work to find a way for the players to complement each other and find some more complimentary players.
If anything, this proves how difficult it is to blend talent and mesh personalities. It makes Pat Rileys accomplishments with the Showtime Lakers (who actually DID have a “Big Three” of Hall of Famers) and Phil Jackson’s run simply amazing feats they don’t get enough credit for. It’s not so easy coaching great talent, is it? Organizations that are successful understand that (Spurs, Lakers, Celtics, etc) and others may learn from the Heat. I hope it makes an impact all the way down to the youth level, where “great coaches” are considered those that assemble the most talent – not those that get the most out of their talent.
Clarence Gaines: Off course I do. How long it takes is another question. Missing Mike Miller really hurt them. Would be interesting to see how their beginning would’ve been if everyone healthy from the jump.
Myles Brown: Of course. Right now, I think they’re all still a bit shell shocked from the whole ordeal in addition to feeling each other out. Then there’s the issue of what appears to be an imbalanced roster. But while the sole word associated with this team is ego, I don’t believe they have any amongst themselves. Those had to be put aside in order to even come to this decision. So they just need time. Time to find their niches, time to fill out the roster and time to move forward. There’s too much talent there for it not to sort itself out.
Damon Smith: I think they go hand-in-hand, but I also believe that the on-court issues that they’re having deal more with the unfamiliarity of playing with each other. They literally threw together this team with a handful of Heat players from last season. As long as they remain relatively healthy, they’ll improve as the season goes on and the off-the-court stuff will likely disperse as time passes as well. But the drama will likely make a comeback for the playoffs.
Asya Shein: No, this is not their year.
Patrick Hayes: Count me among people who think their on-court issues have been greatly overstated. For all that’s being made about a 10-8 start, the Heat are still seventh in the league in offensive efficiency and sixth in the league in defensive efficiency, and that’s with Wade and James shooting four and three percent below their career field goal percentages to start the season respectively. I’d be willing to bet those percentages both go up. They’ve also lost four games by five points or less. They’re too talented to have that trend of losing close games continue, especially in the terrible East. If they’d won, say, three of those games and were 13-5, no one would be talking much about on-court issues.
And the off-court stuff? Isn’t that what they all wanted, to an extent? I mean, LeBron certainly didn’t want people burning his jersey and would probably prefer if Adrian Wojnarowski didn’t kill him on Yahoo! every other week. But they wanted buzz, they wanted the media to stay interested in them all season and Bosh, in particular, certainly has alluded to the fact that he wanted to become a bigger media star after not feeling he got the exposure he was seeking in Toronto. They’ll be fine with the off-court stuff.
John Gorman: Only winning will fix the Heat’s on-court issues. Magically, it will fix the off-court issues, as well. Winning cures all.
Wade has another comparable athlete on the floor for probably the first time ever, will he be able to deal?
Dan LeBatard: It will require some sacrifice that I think these guys probably considered in the macro and not the micro. I think they, like I, thought it would be easier. That it wouldn’t matter who was taking the shots if they were scoring 120 a night. But now you have to think about how Dwyane feels about LeBron getting plays called for him out of timeouts. I’ve heard he has already complained to Quentin Richardson about that — that all the plays are called for LeBron. That’s micro. And it requires an adjustment over these 82 games.”
Neville Waters: DWade seems most affected & unsure of his role. It could take a full season..or longer to become comfortable. Just ask Kobe of Shaq.
Chris Cason: The bad part for him is that this athlete happens to be at his best also, with the ball in his hands. I’ve always felt LeBron needs to be put at the point guard position because his game suits it best, but it takes away from what Wade is able to do. What is good about this situation for the both of them is it should force them to develop other parts of their games, like posting up, stand-still jumpers and coming off of screens for jumpers. You can only hope that, though.
Dax Devlon-Ross: Wade isn’t the one I’m concerned about. He at least played with Shaq in his late prime. LeBron is the one who’s having to adjust to playing with another great athlete for the first time. Great players want the ball when they want it, not when their teammate decides to share it with them.
Okori Wadsworth: Eventually he’ll work this out. But for right now it’s going to be complicated until one guy is willing to sublimate their ego and play off of the other guy.
Pam Chvotkin: I feel that his heart is in the right place. Ultimately, the sport is played to earn money, promote endorsements, etc. But not to the extend of flashiness that others have taken. As long as egos do not interfere, he will be able to deal just fine. He is a part of a team, after all.
Diallo Tyson: Only if LeBron is the full time point guard.
Sandy Dover: Wade wants to win, and I think that while he loves the glory he’s gotten from the past two regular seasons of MVP-worthy love, he knows what being a champion is, and he’s learn when to pick his spots. He’ll be okay.
Clarence Gaines: Getting very simplistic questions here. As Phil Jackson is so apt to say, let them find their way/path. If they can find their way playing with comparable basketball players and athletes at the Olympics, surely they can do it in Miami. If you place a high priority on winning, it will be done. Witness Earl the Pearl being traded to New York Knicks.
Myles Brown: Dwyane’s game is more similar to Bron’s than he ever got credit for. He needs the ball and an opportunity to survey the defense in order to make plays, whether that be through scoring or dishing. He’s not a catch and shoot player and he operates best where Bron does. At the top of the key. What we’ve seen so far is how their talents overlap and Erik Spolestra’s unimaginative offense doesn’t help matters. LeBron appears to be the same marvel he’s always been because he hasn’t had to make any real adjustments, Wade has. Remember the Flash who used to weave his way through defenders and stop on a dime? The guy who lived at the elbows and used the glass as well as Tim Duncan? He’s still finding himself. Increasing the pace in order to get them out in the open floor and drawing up more sets that enable them to play an effective two man game will eventually make them both more dangerous than they ever were alone. But again, that’s gonna take some time, trial and error. He’ll be fine. I hope.
Damon Smith: It’s been interesting to read and hear what everyone from Jordan to my barber has to say about two Alpha dogs taking the court wearing the same jersey. And when you think it through, what most people have said has rung true thus far. It’s a tough task. It’s doable. The question is whether or not Wade will humble himself and do it. I think he will in due time, especially considering that he made all of this possible in the first place.
Asya Shein: Not this year.
Patrick Hayes: Charles Barkley says over and over that “this is Dwyane’s team.” I get why he says it. Wade has won a title, James and Bosh joined him in Miami, Wade didn’t join them. But the fact is LeBron James is a better player than Dywane Wade. He’s bigger, stronger, a better finisher, better rebounder, better defender and better passer.
None of that is to say Wade isn’t great, because he is, but it makes so much more sense to have the ball in James’ hands late in games because of his ability to command the attention of the defense, to pass, to get to the basket and to elevate and finish while absorbing contact or drawing fouls.
So far, James has certainly deferred to Wade publicly. Maybe that will make it a non-issue. But I think the people who framed this partnership by saying James would be the Pippen to Wade’s Jordan got things backwards
John Gorman: It’s not the comparable talent that will fluster Wade, but rather, the similarity in skill-set. LeBron and Wade need to differentiate their games enough to where they can co-exist with greater ease. If they can do that, Wade should be fine.
Isn’t this really the Heat’s training camp?
Neville Waters: It’s a convenient BS excuse. I recall Chauncy Billups getting traded after the season started & his impact on the Nuggets would seem to suggest he didn’t miss anything but not being with the team in training camp.
Chris Cason: Pretty much. What Erik Spoelstra needed to do was start playing these guys together from the very beginning. I know he was trying to set a tone, having Wade and James on opposite side, but with the dynamics of all three’s games, you have to begin figuring out a system to run because all three have been ball-stoppers since the season began. It’s been nothing but iso’s. This team is still figuring everything out and like Spoelstra has continuously said, it’s a process, but expect them to figure it out unless the media is able to divide this team’s unity.
Dax Devlon-Ross: Training camp doesn’t affect home court advantage.
Okori Wadsworth: I guess. Although, they did have lots of time to practice before the start of the season so I guess this is just them putting it into action.
Pam Chvotkin: Well, in a way, yes, because they are still adapting and getting to know each others style of play for the game. Adjustments are huge and they must learn to work and share responsibilities together rather than take the lead on different positions.
Diallo Tyson: They better hope it is. If this is their ceiling, Holy Hell is it going to get ugly. The only thing is, other teams are going to get better also. So they better improve exponentially more than the other teams. I don’t know if Spo can get that out of them.
Sandy Dover: See my Tweet.
Clarence Gaines: No, There is no substitute for training camp. Extended practices, building a foundation, slowly gearing the vets up for the rigors of the season, two a days early. NBA season doesn’t lend itself to a training camp atmosphere during the regular season unless there is an extended break and if that happens, the coach is usually concerned with resting and healing his heavy minute players. You may want to call it a training camp, but if you stick with that line of logic, understand it’s a poor excuse for one.
Damon Smith: History will give us the answer to this question. If the Heat make it to the finals, it is. If they get bounced any earlier than that, cue up Denny Green.
Asya Shein: Yes exactly!
Patrick Hayes: It might be, but I really hope that’s not their approach. When Boston added Allen and Garnett, they started that season 20-2 on their way to winning a title. Those guys had to get familiar with each other and all sacrifice some alpha-dog status and, like Miami, adjust to unproven starters at the point guard and center positions. They were locked in from start to finish.
James has been on the best regular season team in the league for two straight seasons and both seasons, they’ve had disappointing playoff flameouts where he and his teammates at times looked like they had no intensity. Bosh has never even been to the second round. Those guys have easy-going personalities. I don’t think it’s a good idea for them to take on the “this is our training camp” attitude. Waning intensity has been the one thing you can nitpick both James and Bosh about during their careers, so it’s best to break that habit soon.
John Gorman: Absolutely is. Legends in sports* are defined by multiple championships, not an immaculate single-season run. Remember the 2001 Seattle Mariners? Who won 116-ish games, the most in MLB history? Of course not. They lost to the Yankees that year, who lost to the Diamondbacks. The ring’s the thing. You see how the Spurs, Celtics and Lakers save up for the playoffs(*aside from an undefeated season in football, or college basketball).
Where does Bosh fit into all of this?
Neville Waters: Somewhat irrelevant. He’s a nice player but he’s like Ringo Starr.
Dan Levy: Bosh sure looks like Ringo Starr in all of this. A max deal with nowhere near the pressure of being a franchise player? A power forward who can complain about a lack of “inside presence” on his own team, when the reason there’s no inside presence is because he’s not an inside presence but took all the money the Heat could have used to sign someone who could be an inside presence? He sure a heck is getting by with a little help from his friends.
Chris Cason: Bosh is the third string and on a team with two dynamic perimeter player’s, he’s looked lost a lot on both offense and defense because he doesn’t have an assigned role, just yet. With the Heat’s struggles, some of his weaknesses have been exposed and he’s not been able to do what made him one of the most sought after power forwards in the league. Once Wade and Bron are able to establish a style and fit, Bosh falls easily into place.
Dax Devlon-Ross: I liken Bosh to Paul Gasol circa 2008. That season Paul (and everyone else) learned he was soft. He got manhandled by Boston’s frontline in front of the world. He had a choice that summer. Stay soft or toughen up. We all know what he decided, but I have to believe part of the fierceness he developed was the result of being around a fierce competitor in Kobe. I don’t know if that same fierceness is in Wade or LeBron.
Okori Wadsworth: Unfortunately, he’s the guy who is being the most harmed by this. LeBron is playing well, D-Wade is going to round into form, but Bosh has not provided what they have needed him to. He’s been what he was in Toronto, which would be good if people hadn’t hyped him as a game-changing low-block force. He’s not. He’s a guy who is an off-the-ball player and a high-post shooter.
Pam Chvotkin: While younger, Bosh was ripe to be recruited and has the ability to learn and adapt quickly, along with his 6’10 frame.
Diallo Tyson: He doesn’t fit in, as the team is presently constructed. He’s a perimeter player on a team that needs an inside presence. If he’s unstoppable on the block, the defense HAS to sag because you can’t give up dunks and layups all night. That would defensively vacate the perimeter and open up driving lanes. He’s been playing better as of late, but unless he turns into Dwight Howard, it’s not going to matter.
Sandy Dover: Bosh is a glorified sanitation engineer—a clean-up man, if you will. Maybe he’ll Tweet about his role sometime in the future. (*Kanye shrug*)
Clarence Gaines: I’ll give you my favorite line. We’ll see. He’s actually a nice complementary player if he’s paired with a physical defensive center. His game and his mindset lends itself to playing off the others. Not quite a parasite, but not far from it with LBJ & D-Wade dominating the scene.
Myles Brown: When this all went down, Chris was the player who I thought would have to make the biggest adjustment. He still is. For this team to unlock its real potential Bosh is going to have to step outside of his comfort zone. He’s always played the mid-range and displayed a soft touch along with an ability to drive. Those are certainly wonderful skills for a big man to have, but he needs to develop the back to the basket game that will allow easy buckets and lay the foundation for a solid inside/out game. He’s never been eager to guard centers or bang in the paint, but that’s exactly what this team needs. This is no longer a center laden league. If he would willingly and effectively play the five spot, this team will simply be too quick for anyone else to keep up. Miami is near the bottom of the league in points in the paint, rebounds and a host of other inside categories. That’s not all solely on Chris, but he has to be held accountable.
Damon Smith: Um, boxing someone out and grabbing board after board, putting back bunnies and playing above average defense if he knows what’s good for him. If LeBron is Batman and Wade is Robin that makes Bosh…Alfred? I don’t know. What I do know is that he’s got to become a better post defender and rebounder if they’re going to win games come June.
Asya Shein: If he continues to slam as he has in the past few games, they’ll give him the ball more, he needs to get stronger in defense and be a better player around the rim.
Being the #3 guy on a team is supposed to be the glorious spot on the squad. You don’t have the most responsibility, yet your name still goes up on the lights as the #3 guy. Everyone knew who James Worthy was, everyone knew who Robert Parish was, everyone knew who Horace Grant was, everyone knew who Tony Parker was, and everyone should come to know who Chris Bosh is.
The problem with Bosh is that the other #3 guys I named on all-time legendary teams were the mark of consistency for what they did for their teams. For some, it was to be a ferocious rebounder, for others it was to be a go-to scoring threat, and for others it was to distribute the ball and keep everyone happy. For Bosh’s fit, what is his role? His role SHOULD be to be a great post defender, an exceptional rebounder on the front line, and someone who can score when needed. However, we don’t know if he can actually DO any of those things. If he can’t…well, someone’s gonna make him do those things or his talents are done in South Beach.
Patrick Hayes: Bosh is going to evolve as a player as the season goes on. He’s the easiest target because he’s not as big a star as Wade or James. He was the one guy of those three who some questioned whether or not he was a franchise guy worth a max deal.
Bosh is the third best player on the team and, as such, he just won’t get near the touches he did in Toronto. The good news is that he’s athletic enough to become a high energy guy who can make up for his limited touches by hitting the offensive glass harder and moving without the ball more. He didn’t have to do those things much as a Raptor, but he’ll learn how to get more opportunities without having to take touches away from James or Wade.
John Gorman: The George Harrison to Wade and LeBron’s Lennon-McCartney. Is that cliche played out? Ok then.
How will history see this moment before LeBron’s return to Cleveland? After, one only knows.
Neville Waters: I hesitate to respond in the moment. History has a way of changing real-time perceptions.
Chris Cason: It’s huge. I have family in Cleveland and if you talk to anyone from there, this isn’t just a game, this is like redemption. The Cavaliers might not win this game, but it’s a chance for that city to let it be known how they truly feel about LeBron, and how much hurt he brought them. LeBron will choose how history sees this game. It’s sure to be pumped up, but LeBron can either go out and drop 40 in a hostile environment, or do just enough for his new team to win. This is completely different from Jordan coming back to Chicago as a Wizard, Garnett going back to Sota as Celtic because of how James chose to leave.
Dax Devlon-Ross: History will look shamefully upon it. He gave the city seven great years. A one hour special shouldn’t wipe away the sunshine he brought to that blighted city. He should be given a king’s welcome, a prolonged ovation, rose petals, trumpets, strumpets—you name it and he’s earned it.
Okori Wadsworth: I would see it as the return of a superstar. That’s it.
Pam Chvotkin: This teaches you to reevaluate the meaning of loyalty as well as what the American Dream is.
Honestly, I think it will much ado about nothing from a historical perspective. There will be boos, chants, and vitriol. But what can the crowd really do that’s historically memorable. If anyone takes a quarter-step towards the court, they’ll be mobbed like hyenas on a gazelle’s dead carcass. Short of some sort of on-court tragedy, this game will be forgotten by Saturday. If Auburn loses to S. Carolina, the only thing the sports world will care about is the BCS. The two teams will play three more times this season, and four more next. It’ll make Sportscenter’s “Top Ten Homecomings” in 10 years and people will go, “Oh yeah, boy did he get booed. Babe, can you past the potatoes?” No one will care because some new story will become a crisis that must be covered ad nauseum by the media.
Sandy Dover: History will see this moment as a mere footnote in the history of LeBron, because it doesn’t mean a whole lot in the grand scheme of things. He’s gone, he left. It makes for a compelling story now, but barring any sort of catastrophic happening in this reunion, it’s not going to be very historical…unless LeBron never wins a championship with Miami.
Clarence Gaines: I don’t try to write or predict history. Best to view things from this wise quote from The Buddha: “Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.” My take on LeBron’s return is that it’s the return of the Prodigal Son, except it won’t have the biblical ending. And given all he’s done for Cleveland, Dan Gilbert and the franchise, that’s a shame. History is already being written, the leak of the players lack of confidence in Spoelstra, the Heat’s struggles, the pre-game ritual that he stole from MJ – will he or won’t he; has he learned his lesson in terms of humility or will he arrogantly do his thing before the game. Most of the historical drama is the build up before the game. The game will write it’s own history.
Myles Brown: Some may see this as LeBron’s comeuppance. Others may see it as a chance to make it right. Ultimately, no championships will be won tonight, it’ll just be an opportunity for the city of Cleveland to say what they have since July, only to LeBron’s face. Normally events with this much anticipation tend to be fairly disappointing and I expect this to be another instance of such. LeBron can’t take the entire city out in an alley and fight them one at a time and I doubt he wants to take any of his anger or frustration out on his old teammates. I truly believe he loved those guys. I suspect he just wants to get in and get the hell out of there as quickly as possible. As daft as he may have been upon exiting, I think he understands how to handle his return. If anything, I expect a monster performance from one of Bron’s new teammates on his behalf.
Damon Smith: I think history is going to look at it like it looked at Favre returning to Green Bay in a Vikings uniform for the first time, but with a little more vitriol glossed over this Thursday. Understandably, there’s a lot of hype around this game.
Asya Shein: Buckeyes are bitter, they will boo him and mess with him during the game but I think he’ll come out of it unscathed.
Patrick Hayes: It’s going to be hyped beyond belief beforehand, a lot of people are going to watch, LeBron is going to be booed like no player has been booed before, and at the end of the day, all it’s going to be is a game between a title contender and a team that probably won’t make the playoffs.
LeBron’s going to be booed every time he goes back to Cleveland, and people there will always remember what happened, will always feel jilted and will always let LeBron know that they remember. But the rest of the basketball-viewing world will care less and less about him returning to Cleveland after this first one is out of the way.
John Gorman: This will be probably a disproportionately large paragraph on LeBron’s wikipedia page.
What moment in sports history compares?
Neville Waters: Free agency in baseball means players often face former teams…but the level of vitriol in this circumstance makes the Heat’s return unique. The results (on & off the court) from the game will determine the memories.
Chris Cason: If there is one moment I can think of in sports history, I can’t even think of anything that will go to this level of animosity of one figure. Let’s just say if Derek Jeter decided he was going to take less money to go and play with the Boston Red Sox because he feels he’ll be able to win a few more titles before he retires and imagine his first game back in Yankee stadium. That’s the only version of comparing I can put towards LeBron coming back to Cleveland.
Dax Devlon-Ross: Brett Favre returning to Lambeau as a Minnesota Viking last year.
Okori Wadsworth: Elway going to Baltimore to face the Colts after spurning them in the Draft.
Pam Chvotkin: Brett Favre coming back to Green Bay after playing Minnesota (most recently).
Diallo Tyson: Maybe Roger Clemens’ first appearance at Fenway in a Yankee uniform, but with less burning jerseys.
Sandy Dover: Maybe a Mark Messier sort of thing compares…Shaq going back to Orlando, maybe? Shaq going back to Los Angeles? Shaq going back to… (laughing) Really though, the first two Shaq departures are most comparable, because he and the organizations had bitter endings.
Clarence Gaines: I’ll let the real writers form their conclusions on this one. Shaq returning to Orlando for the first time is very similar. How about Wilt returning to his past teams. Closest might be Brett Farve returning to Green Bay quarterbacking the hated divisional rival, the Minnesota Vikings. Given Farve’s historical significance to the game and Green Bay, this reunion is a drop in the bucket.
Myles Brown: Is there really a comparison? This is as hyped as any one of Jordan’s comebacks, but he was coming back to love, not hate. Ali took on the U.S. Government in addition to any and all comers in the ring, but that was one man fighting for justice after a political decision, not a TV special. Tiger, Kobe, whoever, it’s just not the same. The Decision was unprecedented and so is The Return.
Damon Smith: Funny. Just answered this question previously, but Favre going back to Green Bay compares somewhat. Like I said, though, there’s more here because of disdain there is for LeBron. Had he won a title on top of taking Cleveland to the finals (and not hosted The Decision), Thursday’s game would likely be on par with Favre’s return to Green Bay. As it is, it’s making Favre’s return look like Christmas morning.
Asya Shein: Derek Fisher going back to Lakers (just a bit).
Patrick Hayes: As a Michigander, we had a small-scale version in Detroit with Grant Hill. People forget how good Hill was pre-injury, and much like the Cavs did with James, the Pistons bent over backwards with Hill to make sure he felt like he had some influence in personnel and coaching decisions and that he knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Pistons were Grant Hill.
Then, when he was a free agent, Hill left for Orlando despite Detroit spending the better part of two years basically saying they’d pay any cost to retain him.
Hill leaving Detroit was not as messy as James’ departure from Cleveland. But at the time, with the Pistons constructed solely as a team of complimentary players around Hill, his leaving could’ve meant total devastation for the franchise. In this case, Hill’s career was nearly ruined by injuries, so he didn’t have to immediately return to Detroit and face the music James will face, and the Pistons got really good pretty quickly after Hill left, so fans forgot or at least were more forgiving.
But James and Bosh both leaving behind teams whose immediate future prospects seem bleak at best? There’s been nothing in sports history that can compare to two guys who did that to separate fanbases uniting and both having to return to former home cities full of fans who will never forgive them in the same season.
John Gorman: Brett Favre going back to Green Bay as a Viking.
What will you tell your children?
Neville Waters: LOL!!! Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain…hahaha!!!
Dan Levy (answered this and the previous two questions in this response): I can answer these three with this: I’m a Philly guy. We’ve seen batteries tossed at players who didn’t want to sign with our teams. We’ve had the jerseys of former players burned — BURNED — before games. Much of the fervor in Philly has been drummed-up radio gimmicks, but the hate has been palpable for some. It seems to happen every two or three years around here. I don’t know if this LeBron game can be much different than those.
I also think that the cultural significance will be determined after, not before. Will someone try something drastic (criminal)? Will LeBron score 50 points? If it’s just a game where the fans boo him when he touches the ball and he drops 22/8, I’m not sure how notable it will be in five, ten, 30 years.
Chris Cason: I will tell my children about how LeBron made a decision that he felt was best for himself. As a man, he made his own decision and dealt with everything that came with it, but he lived. I will tell them of one of the most anticipated, watched games in history and will hope that one day they are able to experience something even close to it.
Dax Devlon-Ross: Americans are obsessed with being entertained, relish righteous indignation and enthrall in tearing down their heroes just so we can rebuild them all over again and call it a redemption story.
Okori Wadsworth: Since I don’t have any, I’d tell any kids I might know to watch greatness operate even when it’s stifled.
Kenny Masenda: I will tell my children how I got an opportunity to see three young Black men change the course of free agency and set a path for others to follow. Of course, there is a level of sacrifice on a monetary, tangible and an ego scale, but it can be done.
Pam Chvotkin: Regarding sports there is a LOT of politics, you like any other highly competitive and stressful situation, must know who you’re dealing with. Thick skin in this business is imperative, but it’s also important to stay true to your personal values as well as your goals.
Diallo Tyson: Never move to Cleveland.
Sandy Dover: My children likely won’t care. I barely care, to be perfectly honest. It’s just a game, but for the spirit of conversation and for what it means in the context of the parties involved, it’s kinda like a big deal, as The Clipse like to say.
Clarence Gaines: Nothing, they can both think for themselves. My daughter could care less. She’s in the 10th grade, playing JV basketball for the first time and wondering why she’s doing it. Doesn’t like her coach or the game. Thinks it’s boring in comparison to volleyball. That puts perspective on this type of game. Not everybody cares or gives a damn. My son likes LeBron. He’s a front runner. Has no loyalty to teams, just individuals. He’ll probably dig the scene. He’s a mini-me in terms of soaking up sports experiences. Very few 10 year olds have his grasp of sports history. He’s currently reading “The Best of Sports Illustrated.”
Damon Smith: I’m not sure. Everything really has to play out over the next several years before I can honestly say that I’ll be able to tell my kids much about this whole situation. I will tell them that The Decision was a mistake. I will tell them that if they have the type of control of their lives that LeBron, Wade and Bosh do that they should make the best decisions for themselves as people because that is what they’ll have to live with. I’m not sure there much past that, though, I could say to my kids at this point.
Asya Shein: Keep your EGO in check, even if you are ‘the King”.
Patrick Hayes: What the Heat did, clearing essentially everything off their books and landing three great star players who are all in their primes is unprecedented, no doubt. But if they don’t win, there’s nothing to talk about. What should I do? Should I tell my son about cap space?
I will tell my son about the 2004 Pistons team of no-names taking down a Lakers dynasty. I will tell my son about Tim Duncan. I will tell my son about the utter devastation after Rasheed Wallace left Robert Horry in the waning seconds of game five of the NBA Finals. I will tell my son about Jordan’s Bulls, about Isiah and Dumars, about growing to respect the hell out of a player I never thought I would in Kobe Bryant, about Rajon Rondo becoming one of the most unique players in the league, about KG’s intensity or how long it took NBA fans to finally appreciate Paul Pierce or how no one gave Pau Gasol enough credit for how insanely good he was on those Lakers title teams.
James is the most gifted athlete who has ever played in the NBA, and I will probably get around to talking about that. Wade carried a Heat team to a title in the worst officiated playoff series in recent memory. Bosh … well, I like Bosh, but I can’t say he’s made much of an impact on the game just yet. If the Heat don’t win, I might get around to telling my son about those guys, but fair or not, the star players or hyped players who don’t win tend to fade from memory.
John Gorman: About tonight? Probably nothing. My kids ain’t born yet, and by the time they’re old enough to comprehend basketball, we’ll be counting the Bosh-LeBron-Wade rings.
How should Cleveland receive LeBron and is the city entitled to deal with his return exclusive of how the rest of the country views LeBron?
Dan LeBatard: Cleveland has a reason to be angry. The rest of the country? Not so much. Cleveland wasn’t treated gently. Yes, this was a man fulfilling his contract. He was a free agent. He was free to leave. But the way he left was cold. I don’t think he’d even disagree with that at this point. Did his owner overreact? Yep. Did the city overreact? Yep. A man changed places of employment. Happens every day. But poor Cleveland. So little to be proud and happy about. He could have done it more gently. Be interesting to see how Cleveland reacts to him. Class would be cool but boring. Anger would be more accurate and more fun for everyone but LeBron.
Neville Waters: No need for Cleveland to embrace LeBron. Acknowledgment of what he did would be classy…followed by a hearty round of boos. The city absolutely can respond differently from any other area since Cleveland is the ONLY place he actually left.
Chris Cason: With all he was able to do for that city and that franchise, there will be no one even thinking of how far he brought that team by himself. Dan Gilbert can do a lot just by doing something to thank James for his contributions in his seven years as a Cavalier, but I don’t expect that to happen as this is a city and team that felt they had their hearts ripped right out of there chest and placed in South Beach.
Dax Devlon-Ross: Cleveland needs to take a hard look in the mirror and ask itself why LeBron left. Then it needs to roll out the red carpet and salute His Majesty.
Okori Wadsworth: There will be boos. Lots of boos. I think they have a right to be angry, to feel as though they were the victims of a 1-sided relationship. Because, in a lot of ways, they were the test case for how athletes truly view fans. As white noise who mean something only when they are cheering for you but meaningless otherwise.
Pam Chvotkin: Absolutely! They can choose to receive him still as a native son, but now he’s an opponent. They can give him a warm or cool reception because he did revitalize the Cleveland franchise in the time that he was there. He brought an economic boom to Cleveland from the time he was drafted as the number one selection til the summer; despite the manner of his departure.
Diallo Tyson: In a perfect world, Philly’s response to McNabb would be the ideal response. Give him a standing ovation, because he made Cleveland relevant for seven years. Then boo him relentlessly and make fun of him. That’s sports. Keep his girlfriend and mother out of it, but have fun.
Sandy Dover: Cleveland SHOULD deal with LeBron kindly. Clevelanders were so self-deprecating and self-loathing about him leaving, I believe they almost willed what now has become. They knew how LeBron was, what his interests were, that he kept the team on its heels for seven years, half-threatening to go. It was inevitable. LeBron didn’t want to stay, not really, and they knew it, and Clevelanders know it in their collective heart of hearts. They should be thankful that he was there and go on. It’s not the end of the world.
As for how Cleveland deals with LBJ’s return, respective of the rest of the country’s views, I sort of think it’s irrelevant. It would be great if Cleveland was classy about it, so that it would contrast with the whole LeBron James machine that lead to his leaving, but that’s doubtful.
Ray Lokar: Miami’s first visit to Cleveland, marking LeBron’s return the region in which he grew up and built his reputation really “turns up the heat.” How will everyone react? Will LeBron throw the powder? Will the fans boo? Will LBJ play well? Every angle will be covered by possibly more media than ever for such an early season match up in the history of sport. We should all keep things in perspective and remember to Honor or Respect the Game. Respect is a word oft used in sport, but not always understood. Player use being “disrespected” to justify their unsportsmanlike acts and ask for “respect” from management, when they really mean a higher salary.
Positive Coaching Alliance says we need to respect the ROOTS of the game and gives us a framework in which we can do that. We need to respect the Rules, Opponents, Officials, Teammates, and Self. Everyone involved needs to respect the fact that Rules were followed when free agents signed with the team. No “lack of respect” occurred there there and we all need to respect their right to do so.
One of the biggest downfalls in sports today is the lack of respect for the Opponent. A player doesn’t need to hate their rival to “get up for the game”, but this is often fostered when the other team is painted as “the enemy.” Unfortunately, this is present in youth and high school sports far too often. LeBron set a bad example with his behavior after his loss to the Celtics when he stormed off sans handshake. It will be interesting to see is interaction with his former teammates (and they to him) during this first return to the place he said he’d always call home. Much of this lack of respect also comes from fans. Fans feel they can have an impact on the game by negatively influencing the other team, when the reality is they can make a bigger impact by supporting their own. I don’t expect fans not to boo LBJ, but the excessive vitriol should be avoided. A great Opponent is a gift that creates an amazing opportunity to shine. The Cavs, and their fans, should look at this as a great opportunity to compete and try to defeat the Miami Heat and do so with class.
I appreciate the effort on the part of the NBA to clean up the excessive whining at the Officials. As we find a happy medium, young players and coaches will see the type of behavior that will shape the future of the game. At all times those involved should think about their actions and realize their actions are being emulated in gyms around the country. I expect the Officials to call this one closely due to the high emotions. We’ll see how players react and if that affects the game.
Players so desperately want their respect, but how do they show they respect their Teammates in this “get mine” industry… and world? Not only with their play and their attitude – but how they go about their business? That’s what shows true leadership. I’m consistently impressed with the leadership shown by athletes like Donovan McNabb who always try to say and do the right thing, with class and integrity, even in the toughest circumstances. How a player behaves during tough times or after a loss shows a lot about the man. If reports are true, I think LeBron has a ways to go in this category. Teammates include all those in the organization – owner, GM, locker room attendants, and ball boys. Refraining from “throwing them under the bus” and taking some personal responsibility is the sign of a true leader. A huge lesson to be learned from LeBron is to be careful what you say, it may come back to haunt you. When you say your are loyal (as emblazoned on his chest) and say you are going to get it done in Cleveland without chasing rings, you need to be expect to be called on it when you prove that not to be true.
Finally, the most important thing to have is respect for Self. This takes time to develop and the culture surrounding elite level youth sports that LeBron grew up in does not, typically, foster that respect. Corners cut, promises, made and broke, rules violated, jumping from team to team and, yes, even accumulating talent rather than developing it. We often hear coaches tell superior athletes “Don’t play down to the level of your competition” – but the same must be for the manner in which you conduct yourself. Set high standards for yourSelf and refuse to lower them… even when those around you do. I believe LeBron is still finding himSelf. He may mature… other pros did, as they went through rough times when they were doubted as well. The problem is the system enabled him along the way. If young athletes, through sports, learn to perform their best at all times in everything they do – even when facing inferior opponents AND act to their high standards when those around them are encouraging them to do do otherwise, those habits will build to the point they know no other way – and it will be a life well-lived.
THAT is the power of sports.
Clarence Gaines: The city should receive LeBron like the father in the biblical story about the Prodigal Son receives his Lost Son.
Clevelanders would say that I’m crazy for even thinking like that, but am I. Appreciate LeBron for what he did for the city and franchise. Appreciate him for the 7 wonderful years that he gave his witnesses in Cleveland. Appreciate him for being the best player that the Cleveland franchise ever had. What should Dan Gilbert do? Squash all this not retire LeBron’s jersey talk by coming out and saying that isn’t even an option, because that would be small and petty. Of course we know none of this is going to happen, because people are small and petty. Kill him with kindness and show LeBron, his sycophants, and the Cleveland fans that life goes on after LBJ.
Myles Brown: If Cleveland wants to show their collective disgust on a national stage, I suppose it’s their right. They invested a significant amount of time, money and emotion into one of their own and he turned his back on them right when it seemed they were destined to escape their tragic sporting history. But eventually they’re going to have to make a decision of their own: Do they want to focus on winning a championship (or at least returning to the playoffs) or hating LeBron? The latest development of building a tampering case against Miami makes it seem like the latter. Which is sad. You can’t have him back, guys and gals. He’s gone.
Damon Smith: Cleveland should boo him. Cavs fans should boo him every time he touches the ball. The should boo him with each step he takes. They’ve earned the right to do so, and as a fan, it’s part of the cathartic process that they need to complete. To the second part, I think everyone outside of Cleveland is spectating come Thursday night. Everyone in Cleveland, with Cleveland sports roots or who are Cavs fans are participants in that game. I’m not saying anyone should throw stuff on the court or anything like that. Just that Cleveland has a right to feel what it feels and to emote come Thursday night.
Asya Shein: Just as they will – pissed, booing and all of that – sorry, he kind of deserves it. Not so much because he left, but the time he took to do it and how it was done.
Patrick Hayes: Cleveland fans have every right to show LeBron how hurt and angry they are that he left. Let’s face it: LeBron had things very good in Cleveland. Not to many places will make the most prominent feature in their whole downtown a gigantic mural of someone throwing powder into the air. Cleveland’s love for and need for LeBron was genuine, and I don’t know if he’ll ever find that situation anywhere else.
But to be clear, I don’t think that should bind him in any way to the city. They loved him and desperately wanted him to be there, he didn’t want to be there. It’s ultimately his call. I don’t fault him for leaving and I don’t fault Cleveland fans for reacting how they’re going to react.
As far as the rest of the country, there’s some fakeness to the hate. Cleveland legitimately lost a guy who, if he ever puts things together in the playoffs, is a potential iconic player in this league. Many franchises have never and will never get a player like James could become. Fans in other NBA cities who are jumping on the “LeBron sucks!” bandwagon would’ve been elated if the team they root for had pulled off a sign and trade or had the cap space to sign James outright. The notion that fans in other cities have sympathy for Cleveland is silly. They don’t like LeBron because it’s easy to not like LeBron right now, but they all would take LeBron on their team in a second.
John Gorman: Cleveland needs to understand LeBron didn’t go back on his word. LeBron never said “I’ll never leave Cleveland.” So, for everyone in C-Town who thinks, “He betrayed us,” they need to recognize that he was a player who signed a contract, played it out and signed somewhere else when his contract was up. They should applaud him for leading the Cavs to back-to-back 60-win seasons. Name another time when the Cavs were legitimate or relevant. Now they’re back to being the Golden State Warriors of the Eastern Conference.
Is there another side to this story besides the current narrative (piling on the Heat. Not that some is not deserved)?
Dan LeBatard: I think it is very hard to see anything clearly with this team because emotions blind and people are looking for stuff that reaffirms their belief. If you love the Heat, you think LeBron bumping Spoelstra is an accident. If you hate the Heat, as most do, you think LeBron is a jackass who did that on purpose. That moment is instructive. At the center of it, both LeBron and Spoelstra say they didn’t even notice the bump. And you saw the swirl that came around it. Same thing with Bosh’s decision to use the word ‘chill.’ One syllable. He said after a blowout in which he scored 35 points that Spo was always pushing and they just wanted to chill. He said he was using a happy word at a happy time. I mean, they work hard. Any Riley team will. You can’t be in pro basketball without working hard (unless maybe you are Shaq). But you saw how that ended up in the news cycle for 24 hours. One word. It’s noisy. Hard to be clear-headed when it is noisy.
Neville Waters: No other side that warrants any interest.
Chris Cason: There is always two sides to a story and unfortunately with the way the media is now portraying James, not always is the right side going to be told because of the resentment towards him.
Dax Devlon-Ross: There is: What’s the point of being young, rich, talented, and famous if you can’t decide where you work and who you work with?
Okori Wadsworth: It could be a narrative about how the 2000’s athlete views winning as a guarantee, and not something that is earned through hard work.
Pam Chvotkin: I don’t know that there’s another side, there very well could be, that we are unaware of…but as media, and fans, we can only judge with the facts (and often, rumors) presented to us.
Diallo Tyson: I don’t know. I suppose there are two sides to this story, though I don’t know what the other side could be. The Heat shoved tons of raw meat down the throat of The Beast, and now they’re getting swallowed by it. That’s sports life in the 21st century.
Sandy Dover: I really think that outside of the lack of couth with “The Decision”, Bosh’s frequent and untimely Tweets about leaving last season, and the understated socio-ethnic issues that lie beneath the surface, people just like having someone to root for and against. Miami is so easy to target in that sense.
Clarence Gaines: Always another side. My side, your side and then the truth. The truth will play itself out in time. What that side is remains in the eye of the beholder. Dan Gilbert showed immediately after “The Decision” that there was another side.
Myles Brown: Personally, it’s hard to say. We’ve spent so much time anticipating The Decision, reacting to The Decision and either fretting over or celebrating Miami’s early struggles that there really hasn’t been time to let any other clear angles develop. I’m sure things will dawn on me as time passes, but right now, I’d have to say no.
Damon Smith: The true narratives of this story are the seizing of control by the league’s players and watching two Alpha dogs trying to co-exist in their primes while striving to win titles. Those are the narratives. They’re juiced up and piled on because it hasn’t been done before, but then also because this team became the Yankees, the team everyone wants to see fail, overnight.
Patrick Hayes: I think there are plenty of narratives out there. Part of this Miami Heat team is spectacle. Arash Markazi wrote what most consider a really unfair piece on LeBron and his crew partying in Vegas. Full disclosure: I have to admit that I laughed at the line when Arash compared Maverick Carter to Puffy dancing around Biggie in a video. The piece was absolutely not fair, but Arash was writing about the spectacle, and like it or not, Wade, James and Bosh all have a lot of responsibility for spectacle being a big part of this.
Adrian Wojnarowski is probably the face of the “Anti-LeBron” writers out there. He has a huge audience and routinely uses the harshest verbiage of any writer while relying on mysterious sources out to make LeBron into the biggest child who ever stepped foot on a NBA court. Is what Woj writes fair? Probably not, but at the same time, does that mean everything he reports is untrue?
Then there are guys out there like Chris Broussard and Brian Windhorst who have generally covered things pretty even-handedly regarding the Heat. But they also have critics who feel like they’re too close with sources.
The key is simply to read a lot of different people and opinions. Think about them. Part of the problem with how we consume media in general is we tend to only read or listen to people whose opinions and values reinforce our own. With the Heat story, and really with every story, we should be seeking out things that reinforce our beliefs, but we should also be looking closely at the things that piss us off. Figure out why they piss us off, where the creator of the content is coming from and then work on forming a conclusion. There isn’t one narrative in this Heat story that has all the answers. There are a lot of people covering this team and story from a wide range of angles, and it’s important to understand all of them to really understand what this team is all about.
John Gorman: Yeah. How are the Cavs performing without LeBron? What are their new strengths and weaknesses? Watching this year’s Cavs reminds me of watching an expansion team.
Could LeBron really be an asshole (He deals with me differently so maybe I have LeBron colored glasses on)?
Dan LeBatard: People are multi-dimensional. I think he’s a child star. So he’s going to be lopsided. Rare is the child star who is normal. He lives in a bubble. Take their entrance. The day they danced on stage. 20,000 people cheering them to music and smoke and all that. The rest of America was furious. But LeBron was in a bubble where people were cheering, oblivious to it, so all he heard was cheering as everything outside the arena burned. And he blurted that they were going to win several championships. Because that’s where he has lived his whole life. To answer your question, I’m sure, like all of us, he can be a jerk on occasion. I think his biggest crime is that he lacks self-awareness. The pretty girl usually does. She has been fine just the way she is for so long, fawned on by men, that she doesn’t need to change. She gets rewarded for being her way, always. Hard to be introspective from that place. Hard to demand improvement from yourself when everyone is always telling you that you are perfect just the way you are. That’s why I’ve always found the idea of ‘haters’ interesting. It is a great soothing, dismissing others as haters. It allows you to never look inside. I’m sure there are many people who hate just for hating. I’m sure many of them surround this team. But this team should also look inside to see if it did ANYTHING to participate in this hatred.
Neville Waters: Yes…but so what. Personality is truly irrelevant. Certainly some viewed MJ as an asshole too.
Dan Levy: LeBron was hurt, but showed up as a high school player to the ABCD Camp wearing a jacket that said King James. In HIGH SCHOOL.
He’s still that braggadocios kid, just with a bigger spotlight shining on him. He’s never grown up, and hasn’t needed to. Is he an asshole? He’s a product of his surroundings. We’ve (media) allowed him to become what he is, so to call him an asshole may be hypocritical. Right, but hypocritical.
Chris Cason: Towards certain people, anybody can be an asshole. I haven’t had a negative experience with LeBron and have known him only in my time talking briefly with him and some around him and there has never once been any disrespect. I see a lot of what is written about him and the negative things are sometimes amusing to me because it’s not actual accounts of the writer’s or reporters but it’s info that’s been passed down from some source and there’s never anyone who truly wants to come out and say anything and the public eats this stuff up and their perception is changed or justified how they feel about him and until you actually meet a person and develop some type of relationship, an opinion about what type of person they are should not be one that you can call.
Dax Devlon-Ross: Some of my favorite people are assholes.
Okori Wadsworth: He’s not an asshole per se, but it is not that cut-and-dry. I think sometimes he doesn’t realize what true fandom is, and how that devotion felt personally misplaced when he made the decision he did.
Pam Chvotkin: He could, but name one talented famous person/celebrity that isn’t in someway? There comes a point where modesty goes out the window. While there are a lot of REALLY nice people out there. They deal with a lot more than the average person does on a regular basis. You can’t be nice all the time. If you do, you’re probably heavily medicated.
Diallo Tyson: I don’t know and I don’t think it really matters as long as it doesn’t manifest itself on the court. We know so little about athletes’ true nature, that making judgments on their respective “goodness” or “badness” is irrelevant. When I was in school, we had a speaker that was trumpeting the virtues of Tiger Woods. He famously said “Tiger Woods would never go to Freaknic.” Thirteen years later we found out that Tiger IS Freaknic. LeBron could be an asshole, or he could not. It’s irrelevant.
Sandy Dover: It’s very possible. He seems like an okay guy, but what do I know? I don’t know him. I certainly like his game and his shoes (I’m a geek with shoes, actually), but he could very well be an @$$hole. I’m not into judging people, but I do know that he’s rubbed a lot of people the wrong way over the years and he generally emits an air of pretension and ethnocentrism that has made him polarizing to begin. No one’s perfect, though.
Clarence Gaines: Of course, he can be anything he wants to be and he probably is. He can be a prince of a person to you and an asshole to someone else. People are complicated. Given the demands on his time and privacy, being an asshole is sometimes warranted. Hell, some people think I’m an asshole and some people think I’m great. So I guess the only difference between me and LBJ are our bank accounts. Given I never met LeBron, I truly don’t know, but Adrian Wojnarowski and Buzz Bissinger surely think so.
Myles Brown: I don’t think any of us can give a definitive answer to this question. I’ve been around LeBron on more than a few occasions and have heard my fair share of stories about him, but that doesn’t mean that I know him any more than I’d want someone to presume they knew me under similar circumstances. I think he’s a young man who has been through a lot and given far more before he’s even had an opportunity to find out who he is. Frankly, I was a fucking mess at 25 years old. I can only imagine how I’d deal with the eyes of the world on me as I grew into who I am. It requires an obscene amount of confidence to maintain any sense of self or sanity under such circumstances and sometimes that will make you look like an asshole. I think he’s undeniably cocky and sometimes quite brash, but an asshole? Would his kids call him that? His wife? His friends? Business associates? Their opinion matters far more than mine on this matter. As an unabashed Jordan, then Kobe fan, I’ve always believed that you have to be a bit of an asshole to big King of the Hill. This is a cutthroat business. More importantly, I’m not looking for a father figure, a crush or someone to live through vicariously. I’m a basketball fan. All I truly care about is what you do on the court. I’ve long compared it to my mailman. I don’t care if he cheats on his taxes, his wife or even kicks puppies. I just want my mail on time and that’s the extent of our relationship. Any of his personal problems are just that. His.
Damon Smith: It’s definitely a possibility. I was knee deep in a convo just last night about people’s perceptions of you versus what you really are, and the point I harped on is that the only people who truly know you for who you are are the people who spend time around you daily and yourself. Those are the people you’ve more than likely opened up to about your fears, your passions, your dreams, your insecurities. They know you and what’s in your heart. Those people in LeBron’s world know whether or not he’s an asshole. LeBron does, too. If he is, that’s his lot.
Asya Shein: Doubt it, he just needs to slow down and play the game and WIN.
Patrick Hayes: Sure he could. Athletes dominate because of an inner-drive to inflict your will on everyone else, to be better than everyone else. What’s more asshole-ish than that? Athletes are single-minded. They have to be to get good enough at their craft to become a professional and make money at it. And LeBron might be the best at his craft in the world. That came as a result of a ridiculous amount of work that required him sacrificing things like a normal social life, time with family, leisure time, etc. Athletes are incredibly isolated people, and so sometimes they aren’t the greatest at the normal daily interactions that are natural to everyone else.
I’ve never interviewed LeBron and certainly wouldn’t have much success trying to sneak into one of his exclusive Vegas parties to get to know him better, so I don’t know what he’s like. In interviews, even if he’s disinterested, he always comes off pretty even-handed and tolerant, even if he isn’t all that forthcoming with most of the people who interview him. I think it’s inconclusive whether or not he’s an asshole. Although he does wear sunglasses at night all the time, and from my experience, I’ve met a lot of assholes who do that.
John Gorman: No. He’s the ultimate representation of the iGeneration (born 1982 – 2000). A self-indulgent, quixotic, narcissistic reality TV-obsessed socialite, who eschews safety, loyalty and local-status for notoriety, originality, glitz and success. He’s no different than anyone else of this age, he just happens to be really, really good at something that pays him a lot more money than any of us will ever see.
What is the responsibility of journalism in this story?
Neville Waters: The responsibility for journalists doesn’t change: report the story accurately & in a timely manner.
Dan Levy: As for journalism, it’s fascinating to see who is in who’s pocket. Adrian Wojnarowski ostensibly called out Chris Broussard of ESPN and other beat writers for writing a story that Woj called “planted” by LeBron and/or Maverick Carter. At the same time, Woj has written at least five anti-LeBron screeds in the last six months, so clearly “journalism” is taking sides on this, sometimes depending on whether or not you need access.
Chris Cason: As always, to report the facts and leave all personal feelings out of it.
Dax Devlon-Ross: Journalists need to acknowledge that this is a contrived moment. NBA big wigs are salivating at the prospect of making big money off an otherwise uneventful, and, given Cleveland’s paucity of marquee talent, insignificant game in early December. LeBron is a lame duck in this situation. The league has thrown him into the fire and stood back to watch the flames.
I don’t need journalists making this out to be more than it is. If tomorrow night comes and I’m not in front of a T.V. chances are I’m not missing a monumental sports moment.
Okori Wadsworth: To suss out why people actually feel the way that they do, and to not just trade in stereotypes about the spoiled athlete or bitter fan. To actually do work.
Kenny Masenda: The responsibility of journalism is to tell a story that is true, authentic, and something they can stand next to if/when someone challenges them. The unique thing about this Miami situation is there are plenty of ways to tell their story. If a writer or a journalist takes the time to tell an authentic one and not a convenient one, then it should be applauded, and when there is nothing to report or write about, leave them alone.
Pam Chvotkin: In the case of the Cleveland game itself, its responsibility is to capture the emotions experienced by both Lebron and the fans. The way they respond to him, and the way he reacts to their response, both with his play and with words afterward that’s what people want to read about, and that’s the critical aspect of the story. Oh, and to make sure there’s enough tape to record it all
Diallo Tyson: Trick question. Journalism is dead. The only thing that matters is tweets, texts, and 24 hour headlines
Sandy Dover: Journalism, as an institution, is responsible to the standards being truthful and non-sensational, but sensationalism sells in many cases. It would be great for journalists to keep it real with LeBron, but we also know that LeBron has so much influence of people…it’s hard for some journalists to be fair in their observations because they want to be super cool with him, and LeBron himself the ability to say “yea” or “nay” to favorable or unfavorable writers who desire time with him.
Clarence Gaines: Journalists aren’t called the fourth estate for nothing. Journalists serve many different roles. Fairness is high on my list. Being thorough and balanced are also prerequisites. Journalists also have a responsibility to themselves. To showcase the power of words and to write from the heart; being wise, informative, inquisitive, creative and dedicated to their profession.
Myles Brown: Balance. Providing a clear view of both sides of this story and advancing the discourse in the appropriate manner. I’m not asking for absolute objectivity. Wear your heart on your sleeve if you choose. Just present a well informed argument and allow the people to do the same based on the evidence.
Damon Smith: To call it as it is. I get the over-analyzation of it all. That’s where the money supposedly is. It’s like when Terrell Owens was the “it” thing in Dallas and we got minute-to-minute coverage of his life on ESPN. The media thinks this is what we want. So it gives it. And we consume it. In regard to the media, I’m convinced that our society is a herd of goats. We’d consume anything.
I get that ESPN, FOX and Co. are hurling resources at this Miami saga because of how monumental it seems. I’m not sure it’s that deep, especially this early. But if we goats keep consuming it, I suppose we’re justifying it.
Asya Shein: Keeping the integrity of both “sides”.
Patrick Hayes: Assuming there is such an ideal as journalistic responsibility is a folly I think. Reporters and news outlets have different agendas: page views, salacious content, humor, controversy, whatever. The responsibility is on the consumer to pick good sources, to develop a bullshit detector and to be able to decipher biases and agendas even from writers or commentators you agree with.
John Gorman: To report it accurately, fairly and not over-romanticize the story of a snowy, sad, rust-belt city that couldn’t hold onto a wealthy 25 year-old kid who got sick of playing with a revolving door of has-been’s and won’t-be’s, for an owner who types official communications in Comic Sans.
Does fan bias factor into mass hatred…as if fans truly wanted LeBron to play for the team fans follow?
Neville Waters: Not sure what this question means…but of course bias is a factor in stirring mass reactions.
Chris Cason: It always does. Reading a lot about him since the decision, most has come from people who’ve always either loved LeBron, now hate him simply to garner more appeal.
Dax Devlon-Ross: I live in the New York/New Jersey area. I genuinely believe he should have come to one of the teams here. If he really wanted the light, he had his chance to step into it. The Nets are moving into a state of the art building in less than two years. They’ve got young talent and a billionaire owner. As a Knick he could have led a resurgence on par with Boston’s three years ago. He would have played before passionate, knowledgeable, loyal, critical fans. He would’ve found out what he was made of as a man and a ballplayer. I don’t hate him for that. I’m just disappointed.
Okori Wadsworth: I think people hate this idea, or at least I do, because it felt to me like he was saying I don’t want the burden of being the Ace. But fans are biased because they wanted him in Chicago, or NYC, or Dallas. They should be. As a Hawks fan, I’m biased. I should be.
Pam Chvotkin: Absolutely, when you are a true diehard fan, you are with a team through the good times (championships, playoffs, final 3 at the buzzer glory) and the bad times 30 wins a season, losing a key player to trades, injuries, overtime losses, etc.
Sandy Dover: Absolutely, fan bias factors into mass hatred. True fanaticism is wild, dynamic, and black & white. LeBron is everything to NBA fans, whether he’s loved, liked, hated or disliked. LeBron was going to be loved or disliked this year, regardless, but his decision in turn has only really caused people to like and hate him, so he’s been given a dose of an alternate reality that he may not have been prepared for, because fans admire his talent, so.
Clarence Gaines: Fan bias factoring into mass hatred only plays in Cleveland. The other fans whose team had a chance for LBJ have gotten over it. Chicago is thriving, New York is on an upswing, and New Jersey is New Jersey and the Clippers are definitely the Clippers. Did I miss anybody else, if I did, he wasn’t serious about you anyway, because if he truly wanted to take the easiest path to a championship, he would have taken his talents to The Second City.
Myles Brown: Somewhat. But as I said earlier, at the end of the day, I think people just wanted to see competition no matter where it was. Not dominance.
Damon Smith: I don’t think so. I really think most fans are upset with LeBron because of the tone-deaf Decision. You pull that out of the equation, and the hate comes down from a 9.9 to like a 6.
Asya Shein: Yes.
Patrick Hayes: Several fanbases felt they had a chance to sign at least one and maybe two of the three players. Many New York fans have felt entitled to LeBron as a Knick for about three years now. Fans of the Nets (Harris/Lopez) and Bulls (Rose/Noah) both felt their young pieces were much better draws for those big time free agents than what any other suitor could offer. Mass hatred exists, pure and simple, because fans are jealous. There is not a fan of any team in this league, save for maybe a Lakers fan, who would turn down any of those three players on their team.
How will this team affect how the NBA is viewed going forward?
Neville Waters: Non-issue. The game is larger than any individual.
Chris Cason: It will have a big affect because of how much coverage is given to them and how every reporter wants to get that next big headline out about them, but it shouldn’t take away from the other 29 teams at all.
Dax Devlon-Ross: If they are successful they will create a new model, something like what AAU has always been and what college basketball has become: a system that allows talented players to pool their resources and offer their services to the highest bidder. It’s only a scary thought because it’s new. Once you think about it, though, you start to wonder if the league shouldn’t have shifted in this direction a long time ago (God, I sound cynical).
Editor’s note: It’s cool Dax…we certainly know by now what side of the fence you ride on fam. –Mizzo
Okori Wadsworth: I think it only changes if Carmelo and\or Chris Paul pull the same ish. If THAT happens, then I think people will begin to rightfully think that the seats of power lie only with a few “chosen” franchises and that if you’re a smaller-market team you exist only as a feeder system for the big franchise. Sort of like how the Yankees are viewed in baseball. And that’s not good for anyone.
Pam Chvotkin: Reevaluation of the back of the jersey, rather than what is on the front, but none the less will increase viewers and sales through merchandise and endorsed brands.
Sandy Dover: The Heat will largely give the NBA a look of glamour, because of the name brands on the team. Think of the sponsors and corporate entities that have paired with Miami and the stars. It gives the NBA a bit of David Beckham serum, in my opinion.
Clarence Gaines: One of the greatest things to ever happen to the league in terms of creating a buzz and generating world wide interest. Another one of those futuristic questions that is hard to predict. I’ll say it’s just a blip. NBA is what it is. A collection of great athletes who play one of the most difficult games in team sports and make it look relatively easy. That’s why they’re professionals. Some will speculate that it’s created a chasm between the haves and have-nots. Basketball is not like baseball, you can’t win a championship with a collection of players like the world champion San Francisco Giants. You need marquis talent to get it done in the NBA.
Myles Brown: It all depends on if they find a worthy competitor. The Lakers and Celtics will challenge them for a season or two, but then it’s up to someone else to take their place. If one arises, then happy days are here again and we have a rivalry to take us into the next decade. Otherwise, some may look to the origin of all this and think of the NBA in the same vein as the WWF. Scripted and uninteresting.
Damon Smith: For the league, it’s not negative. You’ve got your best players getting more attention than they did just last year. You’ve got power teams aligned in major markets and solid teams in place like Indy, Oklahoma City and San Antonio to compete with the big boys.
Asya Shein: There should be a “rule”: until you win a ring, geek down.
Patrick Hayes: The NBA has a loud set of detractors. We’ve all dealt with the stupid arguments – “these guys always travel” or “no one plays fundamental basketball” or “college basketball is so much better.” So yeah, I think the Heat are another example for people who already dislike the league to continue to dislike. But NBA fans, even those who aren’t big fans of any of these guys, are excited to watch this team all year whether they admit it or not. It’s a unique situation that has a lot of people interested for a variety of reasons, and that can’t be bad for the NBA.
John Gorman: I think it all depends on the severity of the lockout. A devastating work stoppage will change our perspective on this team. The collective anger will subside, and we’ll ultimately come to miss, and later appreciate this team and the game it represents.
Who should coach this team? Is Erik Spoelstra getting a bad rap?
Neville Waters: Come on…really??!! Spo may be a decent coach but he ain’t Pat Riley. Once the Ferrari is acquired why would dad not wanna drive it?
Chris Cason: Spo is getting a very bad rap. He has worked his way up to where he is today. This is a guy who’s gotten 90 wins out of a team the last two seasons that very easily could have been a lottery team during that time. I don’t think these boys are ready for Riley at all because if they think Spo is not letting them “chill,” than really is going to break spirits.
Dax Devlon-Ross: 1) Coach K should coach this team. 2) Getting a “bad rap” comes with the territory of coaching an underachieving team. Besides, “Spo” couldn’t get anything out of Michael Beasley for two years. He looked like a Lottery Bust, a guy on the verge of a long, mediocre career. Now he’s in a different system under a different coach and he look like the scorer everyone predicted he’d be.
Okori Wadsworth: Spoelstra for now, although I’d inform him that he needs to start watching tape of the old Nolan Richardson teams at Arkansas for an idea on how to play this.
Kenny Masenda: I think Spo should coach them. He coached Miami for two seasons prior and had them playing some good ball, despite having a team that wasn’t really all that good. He’s getting a bad rap, but the difference between his last two seasons and this one is he’s coaching personalities now, and that takes time to adjust to. It’s not just about basketball anymore. I truly hope the players give him a fair shot, because I think he can get it done, as long as he’s given a fair shake.
Pam Chvotkin: I think he’s fine but many people feel he’s getting a bad rap because of the lack of control they feel he has, which might end up costing him the job in the long run. When dealing with egos anyone could be tough to deal with. As a coach you need to do whats best for the team in order to get a win, this means understanding your own players and the thoughts and mindsets of the opposing team and coaching techniques.
Diallo Tyson: Phil Jackson. He possesses the coaching acumen, the credibility, and the huevos to tell LeBron to pound sand if need be. Spo isn’t really getting a bad rap. He’s a young, 1st time coach that has been put in an almost impossible situation. But he’s still the coach of the team, and its success is on his shoulders. It’s not like he’s getting a raw deal. He wasn’t given any bench players, but he was given a chance to turn a nice piece of beef tenderloin into a great meal. I don’t think he’ll do it, but there’s no need to feel sorry for him.
Sandy Dover: Coach Spoelstra’s getting a bad rap, but he probably doesn’t have his brand developed enough to deal with these guys. Most of the team is made of up accomplished players and past & present All-Stars. Spoelstra is still working his way into being who he is as a coach, and so being coupled with all of these alpha dogs isn’t necessarily a great thing for his credibility. I’m being if his being the head coach is merely titular in nature. I know players want to do well and take some direction, but Spoelstra may not be the man to give orders to these guys. Again, how coachable is LeBron and how coachable is Bosh? These guys already know that they are the favorites, so they’re cool.
In all honestly, what these guys need is an authoritarian who doesn’t run three- or five-hour practices, so essentially, they need a chill bro version of Pat Riley. But then again, the entire team is made up of chill bros, so vintage Pat Riley might be better. Phil Jackson would be great, but he’s great for anyone who wants to really win. Gregg Popovich would be excellent for this team, with a capital “E”.
Clarence Gaines: That’s Pat Riley’s domain. Need a coach that is true to himself and who knows how to say NO. Teams need discipline and a sense of order. Should focus on the qualities that are necessary to coach the personalities on this team instead of the name/profile of the coach.
Myles Brown: Erik Spolestra is a magnificent defensive coach who turned last year’s roster into a top 5 defensive unit, which is quite an achievement. But I’m not sure he has the cache to demand the respect of his players, who may feel they’re already more accomplished than he is. It’s tough to follow someone like that, especially in a pressure cooker of this magnitude. Ideally? I don’t want Pat Riley in that first chair either. I’d like to see Phil Jackson. There’s only about a 25% chance of it happening at best, but he has the accomplishments, offense and most importantly, the personality to make it work. I don’t think LeBron-and to some extent Dwyane-would respond to Riley’s constant drill sergeantry. Jackson knows when to step back and when to assert himself in order to maintain harmony and a focused and competitive atmosphere.
Damon Smith: I personally think Spo deserves his job throughout the season. And these players need to find a way to respect him. They stormed South Beach and this man’s team. They need to respect him and give him the chance to coach it. In the end, it’s going to look bad on the players if they force him out, especially if they do so and don’t win it all.
Asya Shein: Pat Riley all the way, Spo is looking like he’s amateur.
Patrick Hayes: Spoelstra is a good coach. He won games and made the playoffs with a not very good roster the last two years. What’s been weird is how no excuses are being made for Spoelstra the way they are being made for the players. You hear things all the time like, “These guys just have to get used to playing with each other.”
It’s true. They do. But Spoelstra has to get used to coaching three guys from systems where they were all the primary ball-handler and main offensive threat on every possession. He’s used to coaching a team and an offense built around only one guy like that. He needs some time too, and I’d bet on him figuring it out.
John Gorman: Avery Johnson should coach this team, in an ideal world. Spo is getting a bad rap. He’ll end up being remembered as the guy who couldn’t win a title with Bosh, Wade and LeBron (because, make no mistake, those three WILL win a title at some point), and blackballed from coaching elsewhere in the Association
Do you think any of the players regret forming what I call South Beach Soultron?
Neville Waters: It’s way too soon for buyer’s remorse. They’re still getting paid, right?
Chris Cason: I’m sure it has crossed their mind, but they’re there now and have to make the best of the situation. I believe they know their best days are ahead of them and like I said, once they get it together, it’s going to be ugly.
Dax Devlon-Ross: They can’t afford to waste energy feeling buyer’s remorse. Besides, it would be one thing if they all weren’t in their primes. If Boston can still reside at the top of the league as old it it is, then they’ve got time.
Okori Wadsworth: No. Although I think, in a quiet moment, LeBron might admit he didn’t understand just how virulent the backlash could and would get.
Diallo Tyson: Possibly. Obviously, this start isn’t what they expected. I sure hope they regret the farcical “Championship Celebration.” Maybe they regret the thought process behind the decision; “Yo, all we need is a 3-point shooter and we’re good. We’ll be in Miami, shooting commercials, going to the beach, chillin’, and wrecking the league.” If that’s how they felt going in, they should absolutely regret the decision. If they went in saying, “Yo, we can win a title because I bring this to the table, you bring that, and you bring this and that. We can work well offensively and defensively because of this, that, and the other. ’s do this;” then I can’t see them having regrets. It’s not the “what” but the “how.”
Sandy Dover: LeBron may be regretting it. It’s obviously nagging him, that things aren’t what he thought they’d be this early. Bosh isn’t regretting it because regardless of his current situation, the pressure is low for him and he upgraded his personal living situation. In LBJ’s case, he’s getting so much flack…if he were in Dallas, New York, or Chicago, he’d be supreme. D-Wade is cool, because he’s the hometown boy, and he’s loved regardless, and he’s won big before. He just has to get healthy and be himself. LeBron has to be bigger than himself, it seems, and how can you actually do that? But…he’s made his bed, and now he’s lying in it, so I’m not crying for him or any regrets he may have. He’s cool. (laughing)
Clarence Gaines: No. Hopefully,they thought long and hard about it and are willing to persist in their desire to bring a championship to South Florida.
Myles Brown: Not for a minute.
Damon Smith: I think they’re thinking about it what could have been elsewhere. They have to be. Especially this week with LeBron going back to Cleveland. It’s like strolling right into your ex-fiance the day before your wedding. Those thoughts of yesteryear, or in LeBron’s case, last year, are going to surface. It’s only natural.
Asya Shein: not yet, post All-Star break, maybe.
Patrick Hayes: Nah. Not right now. Maybe in year four of those six-year deals they might. I’m not sure partying in South Beach has the same appeal when your 29 as it does when you’re 25. It just depends on whether they win. Every year these guys don’t win a title is going to ratchet up the criticism, it’s going to get coaches fired and it’s going to continue getting James and Bosh labeled as guys who can’t win in the playoffs. I can imagine that, unless they get a title quickly, that would get old and maybe cause some second-guessing.
John Gorman: Not a bit. They live in South Beach, get to go to work with their friends, play a kid’s game for a living and have all the money they’ll ever need. They’ll be just fine.
What would you ask LeBron Thursday?
Dan LeBatard: What do you regret?
Neville Waters: What is different about walking into the facility that was his former home as a visitor & hated opponent?
Dan Levy: Can you define what the word “winner” means to you?
Chris Cason: How big is this moment to you?
Dax Devlon-Ross: “When was the last time you smiled?”
Okori Wadsworth: Do you understand why the fans booed you? Or do you think it’s not their business to?
Pam Chvotkin: Knowing what you know now in the sentiment and the feeling you have with the Cleveland fans (true) fans, what can you do or say to make up for the way they might feel toward you.
Diallo Tyson: What are the 3-5 specific things that you are willing to sacrifice to win a title?
Sandy Dover: I’d ask him, “Was it worth it?” It has such much meaning on multiple levels.
Clarence Gaines: If he was willing to be honest in his answer; I would ask him what his criteria was for selecting a team. Why he chose Miami over Chicago or Cleveland.
What qualities does he value in a coach?
What’s been his biggest joy this season? Always focus on the positive slant.
Myles Brown: Would he be the same person he is now if he’d grown up in any other metropolitan area? What aspects of Cleveland are intrinsically linked to his personality?
Damon Smith: I’d ask him what he misses about Cleveland the most, beyond the obvious (The fans). He has to miss it on some level. He became who he is there.
Asya Shein: If he is considering giving to Cleveland/Akron and Miami charities, would boost his profile and everyone’s morale.
Patrick Hayes: If he’s sorry that he almost made Mo Williams retire?
John Gorman: Did you eat a home cooked meal?
Do you know the names George Mikan and Nat Holman?
Neville Waters: Of course…champions & forerunners of the modern game of basketball.
Dan Levy: Yes.
Chris Cason: Yes.
Dax Devlon-Ross: Mikan yes. I still do Mikan Drills (hooks from both sides of the basket) when I warm up. He’s the first great Laker center. Nat I don’t know.
Okori Wadsworth: George Mikan= one of the first NBA greats, the first out-sized NBA big man, and the ABA commissioner. Nat Holman= coached CCNY to the NCAA and NIT titles in 1960, and played for the Original Celtics.
Pam Chvotkin: Mr. Basketball’s, pioneers of the game. Great players in the early early 20th century.
Diallo Tyson: Mikan is the original Laker big man. Nat Holman was the last coach to win the NCAA and NIT tournaments in the same year.
Sandy Dover: I do know those names. I’ve been following the game intently since I was 10 years old, for 16 years. I feel like a historian of the NBA.
Clarence Gaines: Please. Why is this question in here? What are Mikan’s? Nat Holman – Mr Basketball – The godfather of NY basketball.
Myles Brown: As an NBA enthusiast and Minneapolis resident, I’m quite familiar with George Mikan. Without looking, I vaguely remember Holman as being a pioneer of New York basketball. Hopefully I’m right about that.
Damon Smith: Yes.
Asya Shein: Yes! Old school LEGENDS.
Patrick Hayes: I am quite familiar with Mr. Mikan’s layup drill. And thanks to Wikipedia, I have now heard of Nat Holman.
John Gorman: Mikan yes, Holman no.
Who is the NBA GOAT, Michael Jordan, Oscar Robertson or Wilt Chamberlain?
Neville Waters: It’s hard to argue with MJ…altho Wilt is generally underrated & the Big O is under appreciated.
Dan Levy: Jordan.
Chris Cason: Always a tough argument. I wasn’t privileged to see Oscar or Wilt played and grew up on MJ. I always say this now to just keep it fair to those who came before this era, MJ was the best of his time, Wilt was the best of his time and Oscar was the best of his time.
Dax Devlon-Ross: I’m too young to answer this question with any kind of objectivity. But I will say this, Wilt’s not even in my conversation. The GOAT has to be able to dominate in any era. I genuinely question Wilt’s ability to dominate in the 1990s. Pat, Hakeem, David Robinson and Shaq were all in their prime. They had offensive games. Wilt had a turn and flip. That’s not a game. That’s not even a move.
Okori Wadsworth: Depends on what you mean. Most talented player: Chamberlain. Most accomplished player: Robertson. Guy I would trust with my life to win a game: Jordan.
Pam Chvotkin: MJ: most points in 1 playoff game, combined with individual dominance and playoff success. (Consulted friend about this, Jeffrey Lieberman, Inside Sales Account Manager; Atlanta, Georgia)
He added: GOAT= Jordan is most accomplish therefore greatest. BOAT = no one was a better player then Wilt (Great point. I agree).
Diallo Tyson: Jordan. If Wilt had Jordan’s mindset, it’d be Wilt. Also, it wouldn’t have hurt if he were a better FT shooter.
Sandy Dover: Michael Jordan is the greatest player to ever play basketball. Wilt was the greatest for his era, but it’s clear he exploited so many players of his generation because he was the most physically-advanced during that time. Him in his prime, physically, would not have those same advantages, where as Michael, being of average NBA frame, had skills that clearly would translate across all eras of the game. He was unstoppable, and I thank God that I was able to grow up watching him on WGN home games when he wasn’t on national television. I saw practically all of his home games from 1995-1998.
Oscar Robertson was supremely gifted as well, but LeBron, Magic and Michael have virtually proved that they are all superior versions of him, so no, he’s not the greatest player ever, but he’s one of the absolute greatest players of the bunch.
Clarence Gaines: I’ve got 6 rings because of Mr. Jordan. That’s an easy question for me to answer. Little biased – MJ.
Myles Brown: I maintain a healthy respect for Oscar and Wilt’s accomplishments and contributions, but considering the ways in which Michael advanced both the game and the business of the game, I can’t bring myself to say anyone else. Besides, I practically grew up in Chicago Stadium. I’m quite biased…
Damon Smith: Jordan. Hands down and up.
Asya Shein: Jordan, he branded himself the best and for the most part kept classy. All are amazing though.
Patrick Hayes: I grew up watching the NBA when Bird, Magic and then Jordan were the league’s biggest stars, so it’s easy for me to say Jordan, particularly since him beating Detroit Pistons teams that I lived and died with as a kid ruined my childhood.
But I look at the stats Robertson and Chamberlain put up and damn … it’s unfathomable. There’s just no good way to compare eras. Jordan is the best I’ve ever seen, but I’ve never seen the other guys, so I would defer to people who have watched all of them.
John Gorman: Wilt. Wouldn’t argue with either of the other choices, though.
All this focus on one single American player and or team. How does this affect the NBA’s global market? Is Stern loving this?
Neville Waters: It’s all good. Bulls. Lakers. Celtics. Hell even the Knicks by virtue of geography have all been global. This is such an in-the-moment view that doesn’t account for the evolution of the NBA. Just as Tiny Archibald is not celebrated today when discussing AI…or Elgin Baylor is forgotten when comparisons are made to Durant. This too shall pass.
Dan Levy: Stern loves this because it has made the NBA more relevant than it was yesterday. The NBA is nebulous. Remember when Kobe was a villain? Things change. If LeBron’s attitude eventually changes, so too will his legacy.
Chris Cason: Stern is loving the attention this game is getting because it’s a ratings field day and with all the issues in Miami, it has taken away the attention from the talks about the CBA. The attention this game is getting also helps the global market because LeBron lovers and haters from around the world want to see how Cleveland reacts.
Dax Devlon-Ross: Put it this way, David Stern likes to air his opinions. The fact that I haven’t heard him make a single statement suggesting the Miami Heat situation is damaging the brand speaks volumes…
Okori Wadsworth: He doesn’t love it. Not like this. I think he would prefer 10 or 12 great teams than one overshadowing the attention for the defending champs, and their most dangerous threat. As far as the global market is concerned, I think it’s not nearly as big of a deal as if it had been the Lakers or the Knicks. A team that has more of an international legacy to it than the Heat do.
Pam Chvotkin: We have to look at other markets, he’s huge in the US, but in other republics, like China, with 1 billion people, he’s just as popular, and heavily endorsed. While he switched teams, he’s still an excellent player, and statistics don’t lie, With no connection to Miami or Ohio, the rest of the world still see him as a talented athlete and will continue to support him with that mindset.
Diallo Tyson: Stern loves anything that keeps the NBA in the first 5 minutes of Sportscenter. He loves Jay Leno cracking jokes on the Heat. He loves how the NBA now has villains that have nothing to do with perceived thuggery. As far as the global angle, I really don’t know. I can’t speak on the NBA from an international perspective.
Sandy Dover: This is just more of the same from when Michael became a global icon, but the difference is that Michael won, and people wanted to win like Mike—not just play like Mike. LeBron hasn’t won. Kobe’s won, but King James hasn’t won, so it remains to be seen how this affect the global market. He’s polarizing, but who knows what that means for Europe and Asia and the league’s overall impact. David Stern, on the other hand, is seeing dollar signs and is probably ideating all over his office right now about how to use the NBA to dominate the world basketball leagues on those respective continents.
Clarence Gaines: Already been over this. If it creates a buzz and interest in the league, Stern’s got to love it. We as fans love it, the drama, the buildup, the games. It’s unscripted reality TV.
Myles Brown: My guess is that David loves anything that keeps people spending and talking. This is the biggest story in all of sports and certainly isn’t affecting the bottom line in any adverse manner. At the risk of sounding crass, it probably gives him an erection.
Damon Smith: He has to be. The Heat are a start-up dynasty-like franchise (without the titles). It’s sorta like creating franchise like the Yankees, Lakers, Cowboys or even Man U. It’s a new showcase team that appeals to the world like those other major brands do.
Asya Shein: Yes for SURE.
Patrick Hayes: There’s no denying it. The Heat are wonderful for the NBA. October-December are the hardest months competition-wise for the NBA with the World Series finishing up, the NFL schedule rolling and the NHL season underway. The Heat have guaranteed that the NBA leads the news cycles on an almost daily basis. Yes, David Stern loves this.
John Gorman: David Stern digs this only if the Heat win championships. When we think of the NBA at its best, we tend to label eras of the NBA by the prominent players. The Wilt-Russell era. The Magic-Bird era. The Jordan era. It’ll be interesting to see how this era of the NBA will be remembered, my guess is we’re at the precipice of the LeBron era, but he has to win more than three titles. Hakeem won just two, and we tend to forget the Houston Rockets even existed. One thing to note: Duncan’s won four titles, but I don’t hear anyone calling this era of the NBA the Duncan era. That’s striking to me.
Does this have to be nothing more than a obscene memory? What can we learn?
Neville Waters: Not really interested in dwelling on it. The labor negotiations are way more important.
Chris Cason: What we can learn is from the mistakes of others and I’m sure after The Decision and the scrutiny that has gone towards South Beach, no other player wants to deal with that.
Okori Wadsworth: To not expect greatness from those who have not shown a desire to have it.
Pam Chvotkin: The media enjoys any type of drama or irregularity, as do fans and supporters as well as haters. It’s up to the player him/herself and their publicist or agent on how to deal with it There are many easily recognizable players that are under the radar from the spotlight outside of being on the court because that’s what they choose.
Sandy Dover: In my opinion, this is more about nothing than anything. The legacy of the move from Cleveland to Miami is bigger and more complicated than this first match-up. This is the saga of LeBron James. Everyone knows how Cleveland is and what the city’s bore witness to, there’s no real news in that. Cleveland, for better or for worse, is already branded as being a place for losing and for sucking at life, where hope dies. Do I think that? I don’t have enough personal evidence to say verifiably, but that’s what the consensus opinion is that I know of. This is more about the beginning of the next chapter for LeBron and what he does for years here on out.
I think we can learn that “hype + fanaticism = status quo”. Nothing is new under the sun. What seems grandiose now takes more time to define later, and often the big movements of the present is often just various grabs for attention to sensationalize whatever next big thing is coming and is ripe for reporting.
In reality, I can’t fathom any fans caring that much about a man going to another team that they’d burn jerseys or that people would start sending racist messages to a guy because he chose to play for another team. I love the game, I’m not a fanatic. If that’s what’s up, then those people need to get real lives, sit down and have a chilled coffee.
Clarence Gaines: We can learn that Michael Tillery and his pals at the The Starting Five can ask a lot of questions. What can we learn? That life is hard and that things don’t flow as easily as you expect them to do. That you can’t shortcut the process. That synergy is real. When I ask young kids if they believe 1 + 1 = 3. That building a team is an art, more than science. That all answers can’t be found in stats. That patience is called for in evaluating and analyzing any situation. That basketball is life and life is basketball. That it’s not obscene, but it will be a memorable time in sports history. Obscene is the Eddie Curry’s of the world getting paid major dollars for doing nothing and then blowing it all because they didn’t have the life skills and mental and psychological makeup to handle the limelight.
Damon Smith: That’s all it will be so long as they win titles. What do we learn? The American people, while narcissistic themselves, don’t want their stars to be just that. Weird, I know. Seriously, we need to learn not to put people on pedestals, especially people we don’t know personally. Very few of us KNOW who LBJ is personally. Yet everyone has a serious opinion or three on him.
Asya Shein: Keep your ego (and ho-ass fake people around you) in check “King”.
Patrick Hayes: There’s little chance that this becomes just a memory. There is going to be non-stop coverage of the Heat, win or lose, every season. If they win, the storylines are going to become, “Yeah … but can LeBron ever win one without Wade/Bosh?” If they lose, it’s going to be, “Big Three were colossal failure.”
The good thing about this abundance of coverage of this team, these players and how they came to be teammates, is that it gives a chance to really evaluate what’s out there. I’ve long felt that people too passively consume media. If it’s in front of you, you read it. Or if it’s in the publication that’s been in town for 100 years, you read it. But you don’t really think about whether it’s worthwhile or fair or nuanced. It’s just there. With coverage of the Heat, there are so many different voices offering so many different takes on this team, it offers a great opportunity to shop around. And apply that to everything you consume. Look for new sources of information, ones that challenge you and ones that broaden your understanding of a topic.
John Gorman: There’s a culture shift happening. A group of youths who’ve grown up receiving excessive praise and awards for every minor milestone, a group of youths who’ve grown up with more ways to communicate and collaborate and self-promote than ever before, a group of youths who’ve grown up spoiled by their parents, marketed to incessantly by companies and been told ad nauseum “You can and WILL make a difference” have *(GULP) grown up. And this will annoy everyone who’s over 30 right now.
Dax Devlon-Ross: American needs villains, preferably black ones, to persecute.
No I’m not.