And so two years of speculation have come to this.
With his much-hyped and overproduced 1-hour special on ESPN on Thursday night (in a staggering blow to ESPN’s credibility to the notion of “journalism”, I might add), LeBron James finally came clean with the decision all of the NBA and most of the sports world had been waiting for with baited breath.
In what has been the most closely followed sports story over the last year outside of anything associated with Brett Favre, James broke the hearts of his home state by making like any other well-off Ohio resident and leaving the first chance he got for the sunny shores of Miami.
Call me sentimental if you wish, but I feel a little like those devastated Cavaliers fans. I was hoping he’d hang around Cleveland and make it a career goal to win a championship for a city that’s gone through a few generations since it’s last ticker-tape parade — not to mention The Drive, The Fumble, The Move, The Edgar Renteria Single and The Shot.
Instead, he’s chosen the Miami Heat, or, as it could be called, Dwyane Wade’s team. There he will join Chris Bosh is a triumvirate of superduperstars and a bunch of guys in an attempt at Yankee-izing the NBA Finals.
It just seems to me that this whole thing has been a lot more contrived than it being let on. We began hearing rumors out of Beijing during the 2008 Summer Olympics that these three got along great and were considering linking up when their free agency came due. With reports of Wade and Bosh having camera crews hanging around them for potential documentaries, the few sorry emotionless attempts at sorrowful words James mustered during his prime time decision fell flat.
Maybe, after being sentimental, I’m just being cynical. My feeling that bringing one title to Cleveland would mean more to James’ legacy than winning three with Wade, Bosh and Co. might be short-sighted and, perhaps, wrong. But that’s how I feel. And this grouping together seems more like guys trying to create their legacies by trying to overwhelm the rest of the league in an effort to win.
And if they do win — well, they’re supposed to win. But if they don’t…
But can I bring myself to look at it another way? That this is one of the few times where it isn’t about the Almighty Dollar in professional sports?
Here we might have three of the league’s true giants (well, two of them anyway, going along with another real good player) each taking less money so they could all be on the same team just to have the best chance at winning. They allow their respective deals to mesh in the best possible way for a team to make a run at not just one championship, but a series of them.
Could two of the game’s three best players, a year before the impending lockout and collective bargaining war breaks out and reworks the salary structure, actually leave huge sums of money on the table because they truly care more about the one and only thing we want all our heroes to desire the most — to win?
I dunno. Maybe. But I’m not buying it.
How this all shakes out on the floor is anybody’s guess. We’re a long way from the 2011 NBA playoffs, and the title was not decided at 9:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 8, 2010. There are a lot of moving parts here, and at this point, the Heat barely have enough players to field a starting five.
But while there are plenty of unknowns after finally getting word of the decision, one thing is abundantly clear:
Basketball is dead in Cleveland.
And LeBron James killed it in a most despicable and cruel way — in prime time.
Add “The Decision” to Cleveland’s long list in sports infamy.