Friday, July 9, 2010

Final thoughts on LeBron...

LeBron James did not owe it to the Cavaliers, or the city of Cleveland, to stay there. Basketball, like all professional sports, is a business. Loyalty is a word that gets thrown around in sports: and both owners and players have shown everything from great no loyalty.

If LeBron thought he should be somewhere else, so be it.

It's the way he did this that bothers me.

An hour long special to announce your divorce from Cleveland? On national television...without having the decency to tell the jilted city first? (This was the point of my earlier post, "He has to be staying, right?")

The owner of the Cavs, Dan Gilbert, said James never returned a single phone message or text since the end of the season and that the Cavs were not informed of James' decision until he went on the air. Gilbert said Rich Paul, one of James' business partners, called the Cavs moments before the announcement.

Terry Pluto of the Plain Dealer wrote: "LeBron James should feel a sense of shame and pain for putting together a self-serving ESPN special to inform the world that he no longer intends to play for the Cavaliers. To sharpen the insult, he titled his switch to the Miami Heat as "The Decision."

That’s essentially what Bill Simmons wrote the morning before the announcement: "Losing LeBron on a contrived one-hour show would be worse than Byner's fumble, Jose Mesa, the Game 5 meltdown against Boston, The Drive, The Shot and everything else. At least those stomach-punch moments weren't preordained, unless you believe God hates Cleveland (entirely possible, by the way). This stomach-punch moment? Calculated. By a local kid they loved, defended and revered.

It would be unforgivable. Repeat: unforgivable. I don't have a dog in this race -- as a Celtics fan, I wanted to see him go anywhere but Chicago -- but LeBron doing this show after what happened in the 2010 playoffs actually turned me against him. No small feat. I was one of his biggest defenders...not anymore."

Brian Windhorst wrote: "James' method of breaking up with the Cavs was much more high profile and calculated, if more emotionless, than expected. Cavs fans immediately picked up on the fact James did not offer a "thank you" but instead hoped for understanding when he returns to his hometown, which may not be until he comes back as a member of the Heat."

LeBron handled this so poorly, that he has gone from beloved to hated. The lasting image is of his not caring about being embarrassed on his home Cleveland floor. That, and "The Decision."


ProfsrLee said...

Do you know if the one-hour special thing was his idea? ESPN's? His image manager's?

Kurt said...

According to official accounts, it was LeBron and his people that approached ESPN. LeBron's people paid Jim Gray to do the "interview."