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An Izzo Post-Mortem

All of these will be personal opinions, some of them gleaned from common sense and from various and sundry articles and stories in the past couple of weeks.  The opinions may be wrong, and you may disagree with them, and if you do disagree, hey, it's okay, for after all, this is what we are here for, to have discourse, one fan to another, about this sport, and this team, that own so much of our souls.

Let's consider why, exactly, Tom Izzo rejected the Cavaliers.

I am not inclined to think that Izzo flirted with the Cavs because it was a slow couple of weeks in East Lansing and he had nothing better to do.  I think that he sincerely considered coming to Cleveland, and that he would, in fact, have signed with the Cavs if he had any inkling that LeBron James was going to stay.

Now it may be said that LeBron is being shrewd and not tipping his hand before July 1st, and that he did not wish to have any say-so in the coaching choice, because if he had taken a definite stand, it would have showed his cards before he sat down at the table.  If LeBron had said "Oh yes, if the Cavs get Izzo, I will surely stay", he would have taken away all of his leverage with other teams, for if he had endorsed Izzo and then changed his mind about staying and left, he would have been reviled in Cleveland and not trusted wherever he ended up, for his deception.  And if he had said "Izzo might be a great choice but it won't matter who the coach is unless I get an offer I can live with"...then Izzo surely would have bailed out much sooner. 

It is quite obvious to see that Izzo was only going to come to Cleveland if he could ride on the back of a superstar once he got here.  It was never about being the coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers, and all about possibly being the coach of LeBron James.  And with James's silence, with James's refusal to budge from his self-imposed moratorium on giving any clues before July, Izzo did the only safe thing he could do, and hedged his bets, choosing to stay where he is adored rather than to take a leap into the unknown and perhaps, in five years, finding himself in the company of Mike Brown.

Egos have a lot to do with professional sports nowadays, and the good coach or manager has to not only be a good strategist and tactician, he must also be a psychologist, able to meld a unit of ridiculously wealthy athletes into a cohesive entity, and able to turn their focus to winning at all costs, not to winning because "I am the star and I performed remarkably tonight".  Izzo may well have taken a hard look at the difference between staying with his eager bunch of college players and going headlong into a situation where the inmates, frankly, seem like they are sometimes running the asylum.

One note in passing, an even more personal opinion:  LeBron, you could have made this whole situation better by being like Dwayne Wade.  Wade is also coming up on free-agency in a couple of weeks, but, unlike LeBron's silence, Wade has stated plainly and unequivocally that it is his wish to stay with the Miami Heat, if the right deal can be worked out.

If you had done that, Mr James, if you had just come out and given a clue, which you are allowed, after all, to do...this whole process, instead of being nightmarish and tedious, could have gone smoothly, whether you said you really preferred to stay in Cleveland or whether you said you wanted to try those supposedly greener pastures so many Cleveland "heroes" have sampled in recent years.