Hey Cleveland. Really sorry to hear about LeBron leaving. That really sucks that you couldn’t build even a decent team around him in 7 years, let alone a decent city. Ooh, ouch. Does the truth hurt? Because that’s it. “Your” superstar wanted to win a ring and the Cavs couldn’t get it done, and now he gets to do so in a city that’s worth visiting. Maybe you should direct your anger at the organization that you paid good money to while they ran their team like it was Lehman Brothers.
Speaking of which, hey there Dan Gilbert. You sure had some crazy-as-hell angry words to say about LeBron leaving. Maybe you should save those words for your inept GM since the best player he ever paired LeBron with was 2 months worth of Antawn Jamison. You really think that Cleveland will win a championship before Miami? Your team couldn’t win WITH LeBron, and now you think that a collection of role players is going to win one on their own? I would actually be surprised if your team wins more than 25-30 games for the next 3 years, while Miami will probably win a championship by then. So maybe you shouldn’t have put that in writing. Also, you said that LeBron is teaching our children the exact opposite lessons we want them to learn. Really? Because I would love for my children to learn to follow their dreams, to choose happiness over money, to spend your time with your friends and people you care about, to choose a career that is fun, fulfilling, and rewarding, to be unselfish, and to make tough choices regardless of how they’ll be perceived by others.
In fact, I think that LeBron’s choices, save one that we’ll get to, are exactly the things we always talk about getting left behind in this joyless, money-obsessed sports culture. He turned down tens of millions of dollars because he cared more about winning than anything else. More than pissing people off, more than fans’ perception of him, more than staying in the only state he has ever called home. And to all those people saying that he should have gone to the Bulls if he wanted to win, you’re dumb. Yes, the bulls would have had a better starting 5 than Miami and a better bench, and perhaps a better coach. But doubting that a team that boasts 3 of the top 15 players in the league, including 2 of the top 5, is just stupid. They are going to win championships eventually and often. This reminds me of the same doubting that people were voicing when the Celtics put The Big 3 together. Those arguments went into three categories: 1) Can the big three share the ball and put their egos aside (yes); 2) Can Rondo and Perkins support them enough (this seems REALLY dumb now that Rondo has made them into The Big 4); and 3) is their bench good enough (this actually might have been the dumbest at the time considering the veterans like James Posey who joined their bench at a discount just to help them win a ring). So what’s the knock on the Heat? That they have to sign a bunch of veterans for cheap in order to win? Don’t worry. There will be enough people wanting to join that team at a discount for the first, or last, shot at a ring. It’ll happen. It always happens with front-loaded teams like this.
Also, some people are calling Lebron a pussy instead of an asshole. It goes something like this: LeBron’s legacy is forever tarnished since he chose to be Wade’s second fiddle; he couldn’t rise to the challenge and lead his own team to a championship; Kobe or MJ would never do this, they would rather beat ‘em than join ‘em. Well, you people are all hypocrites. Yes, every single one of you. You are the same people that like to talk about basketball being a team sport and that no one player can win a championship on their own. You railed at Kobe for being selfish for all those years after he drove Shaq off and claim that he’s somehow turned over a new leaf, as opposed to finally having someone good enough to pass the ball to again. You’re the same fans who say they like the college game better than the NBA because it’s more of a team game and not a one-man show like a lot of teams have become.
And for the smarter ones of you, who are actually also the worse hypocrites, you are going against everything you know about winning basketball. Magic Johnson was the best player on his team. He was unselfish and did whatever it took to win, especially doing what he could to make his teammates better and keep them happy by sharing the ball. Same with Isaiah Thomas: unselfish, hard working, demanding excellence, but also not demanding anything he didn’t also demand of himself, setting the tone and serving as an example for the rest of the team. Same with Bill Russell. He was the ultimate champion, and he was also the most unselfish person on his team. He was happy doing the dirty work, paying attention to the little things, the small details in how things are done and why they are done on as you build towards excellence. While other players scored points and made dramatic plays, they were only in the position to do so because of their captain patrolling the paint, anchoring the defense, getting rebounds, starting fast breaks, passing to the open guy, and basically doing everything with the understanding that there is no such thing as personal success in a team sport, winning is the only measure of success. As a Chicagoan, I grew up watching Michael Jordan’s Bulls win 6 titles in 8 years. Everyone talks about that now as if it was Jordan and company. Well let me tell you a little story about a guy named Scottie Pippen. Scottie Pippen was the best perimeter defender of all time. Scottie Pippen could score 40 in any given night. Scottie Pippen could get to the rim at will, or settle for an accurate jump shot. Scottie Pippen fought for every rebound. Scottie Pippen would pass up a shot to find the open man. Scottie Pippen could shut down point guards like Magic Johnson or power forwards like Karl Malone, and did both on the biggest stage possible. Scottie Pippen was the best all-around player I’ve ever seen.
Why is this relevant? Because that’s that’s the type of player LeBron is best suited for. He was always more Magic than MJ. He played point guard for much of his high school career. He has amazing court vision and is a spectacular passer. He just never had a good player to pass the ball to, either on the perimeter or in the post. He was never allowed to be the unselfish player he could be. He was always more Pippen than Jordan, with his all-around talents lending themselves to fill up the box score in every category, threatening triple doubles every night or even for a season while treating us to life-changing blocks and other feats of athletic superiority. And now, for the first time, LeBron is finally in a situation that will allow his talents to flourish to their fullest extent. Yet people are claiming that this will somehow diminish him? If he averages a triple double for the season, is he the second best player on that team just because Wade or even Wade and Bosh, are scoring more points? How about if he averages 18-9-9 with all the aforementioned blocks and other important plays thrown in there. Is he not the best all-around player on the court? Scoring is only one of several phases of this game, and now he can excel at all of them at once since he is unburdened with being the only offensive threat on his team. I, for one, am excited to finally see the LeBron we have been missing out on, not “the next MJ” that everyone else wanted him to be. Let’s all shut the fuck up, shall we, and realize that there will never be another MJ. But LeBron can write his own legacy as the evolutionary Magic/Pippen/Dominique that he is best suited for.
So then, why is LeBron an asshole? Um, did you SEE that hour-long turdcast on Thursday? That was the shittiest hour of television of my life. It was poorly conceived and poorly executed. It was self-serving despite being for charity, which is really hard to do, though an egomaniac of that proportion has no problem pulling it off. It was rehearsed and felt like it. He came off as extremely boring and lacked charisma, which is definitely a first for someone who has always showed such personality when the bright lights are shining. And it lacked any suspense, which was the entire point of having this “announcement.” Everyone know by Thursday morning that he was going to Miami. Why would his inner circle leak his decision to the media in advance of this and completely kill any and all anticipation for the event? How did he think that breaking the hearts of an entire city on live television was going to make him more sympathetic a person than if he had done it in a more private, dignified manner? In all, what did he hope to gain from this? What benefit did this have over, say, a press conference? The only difference is that he could sell advertising, which he then gave to charity. But truthfully, if he was really so concerned about charity, there are much more low-profile yet more-effective ways to raise money than hosting a “me fest.” This is how he’s going to become a “global icon” (his words, not mine)? By looking like a selfish asshole even while giving to charity? By being selfish even while turning down millions of dollars and personal glory to be a part of something bigger than yourself? Now THAT, my friends, is a special kind of asshole. But asshole or not, he made the right choice.