Now that it's over...

Friday, July 09, 2010

Now that it's over...

...and King James XXIII, holding court in a live ESPN cablecast, has told a global audience that he's going to "South Beach," what next?

Well, someone in Cleveland burned a "James #23" jersey last night, and who could fault any such display of anger and betrayal?

Cleveland Cavaliers logo

It's certainly a more direct expression of fans' sense of betrayal than simply trimming a wine and gold Cavaliers jersey in crepe.

(Cleveland Cavaliers majority owner Dan Gilbert showed little reserve in express­ing his own pique.)

One can definitely relate to LeBron's recently-stated rationale that he doesn't want to be "31 years old, with bad knees and no title."

But as good as "King James" has been, and... barring serious injury... will continue to be, as Michael Wise of The Washington Post, notes:

"...he can't be Magic now. Or Bird. Or Michael. Or Isiah Thomas, Tim Duncan or Bill Russell or any other NBA supernova who stuck around long enough to win championships for a town and its people."

As for the appellation "great" goes, I've had reservations, not about his hoops skills, but his character ever since the #2 seed Orlando Magic easily bested top seed Cleveland in the 2009 Eastern Conference finals, after which LeBron disappeared from public view faster than Tim Laube after an election loss.

The truly great ones not only possess superior skills in their game, but are stand-up people to boot.

That may come to LeBron with maturity... he entered the NBA at age 18 straight out of an Akron, Ohio high school, his Christian name already a sports bar word... but that won't be known for sometime, if ever.

The Miami Heat didn't win "the LeBron sweep­stakes" last evening, and anyone who glibly terms it such, hasn't been paying attention.

Will that team go on to dominate the NBA with its trio of superstars?

Ask its team President, Pat Reilly, how that worked out for his Los Angeles Lakers with Wilt Chamberlain, Elgin Baylor and Jerry West.

The Heat might be fun to watch next season... there will be plenty of opportunities as their games will dominate the NBC and cable TNT schedules.

But LeBron should have stayed in Cleveland.

I'd've felt the same way if King James VI (his new number) had elected to call Madison Square Garden his new home court.


1. Matthew Levy said...

"The truly great ones not only possess superior skills in their game, but are stand-up people to boot."
None of the great ones that you listed were really stand-up guys, save for Duncan/Russell.

My issue is less with his persona (or media persona as we rarely know what a celebrity/athlete are truly like) but more with the fact that he still does not look comfortable with his teammates. Yes, Lebron can take over games, but does he really make guys as good as Michael/Larry/Wilt/Pearl/Magic did?? I have yet to see him lift up his teammates game in the way the truly great ones did.
I think we have watched the pro hardwood game a little differently, Matthew.

(M'Gawd!, did you ever even see Chamberlain or Monroe play? Chamberlain, anytime he was of a mind to, was utterly unstoppable, but had a curious habit of losing focus at the most inopportune times.)

The ones Wise and I cited committed, and kept that committment, and never jumped for the bigger money.

2. Jeanne Speir said...

Jason Kidd and Scott Pippin were my all-time favorite pros; Dale Melendez and Erin Johnson on the local and collegiate circuits.

LeBron is still a kid, and doubtless gave his PR work to some overbearing ass who orchestrated this MOST annoying and protracted teaser for the news media circus in my recollection. BTW, I didn't find out until the Blog where he signed up -- I was SO incensed I avoided the 9:00 o'clock announcement.

I LIKED the kid until this played out.

May his knees hold and his wisdom grow enough in the next few years until he fires his manager, or whatever they call the handlers these days.

Yes dear... but he ain't no kid no mo'.

3. Shepard M. Scheinberg said...

Contrary to my reputation as a sweet, nice guy, I am a cold-hearted businessman. Look at the great sport figures over the years (Babe Ruth, for one), who moved around and the fans got over it. In business today, it is more common for a person to move from firm to firm seeking better compensation and advancement, than to remain with one employer for 25 years, only to receive a gold watch at retirement. Basketball is a business, from team ownership and revenues to the players and their quest to make big bucks during their short careers. Does the fact that LeBron is a sports figure dictate that he should not be allowed without critisism to seek employment at another team if he can make a better salary? The State of Florida has no income tax. By taking the job in Miami, LeBron will save Millions of Dollars in not having to pay state taxes. The bottom line and the folding money in his pocket certainly made sense to him. The fans will get over it.

One (mercenary) point of view, but one big quibble, Shep... Babe Ruth didn't "move around;" he was moved around. Those were the days of the Reserve Clause, and players had no say in where they went or for whom they played.

Even after the Curt Flood case struck down the Reserve Clause, guys like Hall of Famer George Brett played 21 seasons on annual contract in one place, Kansas City. Classy guy!

4. HDHouse said...

The definition of a "classy guy" isn't his loyalty to a team that would, if the price were right, trade him in an instant.

Are you serious in thinking that if the Cav's management got a huge offer for James during the last year of his contract that they wouldn't have padlocked his locker and taken his shoes? Cleveland got what it got because of very very poor management in not anticipating and planning for the loss of key personnel... much like any business gets when it doesn't think ahead.

At last count, James did nothing that he wasn't freely entitled to do and the Cav's management dropped the proverbial slam dunk ball. They get what they get... or would the editor here prefer a good dose of socialism where these choices don't occur in such a fashion?

There was a lot more to George Brett than that which made him a "classy guy," but he was a reference point, not the subject of the entry.

The Cavs attempted to ink James to an extension or new deal at various times, but he was determined to go the free agency route.

Your contrarian speculations are interesting, however.

5. Coach K said...

...the whole episode was total 'Gansta.

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