How to find words to express feelings that one never thought they would feel. How to say what needs to be said in a coherent fashion, twelve hours after the fact, and to be so stunned that the words take a while to force themselves past the gates of shock.
LeBron James has left the Cleveland Cavaliers, but more than that - he has left all semblance of ever being a player who had "team" in mind. As has been said in more than one place already, in the avalanche of words that have been written since last night - it was never about team, it was never about loyalty, it was never about honor, it was always about "me, me, and me".This morning my thoughts turn in so many directions, as I am sure all true Cavaliers' fans thoughts also do. Is there anger? Yes, there is anger, a large dollop of anger. The anger is not so much that LeBron decided that the best thing for him to do to "win" would be to go to Miami. There is anger there, of course, as it is ludicrous to walk away from a team that won 127 regular-season games in two years, that has thrown four 50+ win seasons in the books in the last five years, and to think that you are better served going to a team which will be the Three Musketeers and a cast of scrubs who will have to be on the floor a great percentage of the time. When a team like Boston can neutralize a star to the point where that star pouts and under-achieves, it is not such a stretch to think that that Celtics' team could not let three guys go off for eighty points, and hold the rest of the team under 20, and win regardless.
But I am not so much angry because LeBron chose to think he can "win" in Miami.
I am angry at the display last night, the made-for-TV drama, the patronizing idol-worshiping Jim Gray sitting there throwing slow-pitch softball questions at LeBron to build pseudo-suspense, moments after the studio crew unanimously declared that LeBron was going to the Heat. To think that something could be so contrived, to drain every last ounce of spirit from Cleveland fans, to see that somber LeBron acting as if his momma made his mind up for him - that angered me. Tell us, LeBron, if momma had told you yesterday morning that she wanted you to sign with the Minnesota Timberwolves, would you have? Of course you wouldn't have, and if a 25-year old cannot make his mind up without input from his mother...what kind of leader are you, what kind of "king"? That is not to say that a mother cannot give excellent advice, but still. A 'king"? (And yes, no longer will I use the upper-case K for our erstwhile hero.)
I was a little bit angry at the Cavaliers, speaking of anger, three months ago when the team basically conceded the final four games of the regular season, for "resting" LeBron and for not being upfront and just saying that LeBron was hurt and needed to rest. I had a feeling LeBron was hurting and I have a feeling it happened in the same Toronto game wherein Chris Bosh met Antawn Jamison's inadvertent elbow and came away the loser, although it was not until later that we heard that it was true that he had been playing hurt for some time. That little ray of sunshine fell right about the end of Game Five against Chicago. My point in this rather convoluted paragraph is this: So we are basically being punished, you are tossing Cleveland to your own personal scrap heap, LeBron, because you were hurt and could not get enough help to overcome Boston and advance in the playoffs? After all that was done by the Cavs to try and improve, all the moves that were made and pondered, all the games wherein players stood and watched you dribble down a shot-clock, you now punish Cleveland for not immediately rising to world-class play when you are hurting? When a team is built around you, when that team's offense works best when it runs through you, how can you desert that team for not being able to cover your posterior against a playoff-savvy team like Boston on the fly?
But hey, the good news, LeBron, is that you have succeeded in doing something I would have thought impossible, and it will be even easier since it is quite apparent, thanks to you, that there won't be any NBA championship in Cleveland next year. You have made me a fan of 29 NBA teams, a fan of Detroit, a fan of Orlando, a fan of the Celtics, a fan of the Lakers, a fan of every other team when they are playing Miami. Hey, that's some terrific stuff there, I can find a rooting interest next year 82 times at least, and gawd knows how many times more in the playoffs. The Cavs will be my favorites, and the other 28 teams not-called-the-Heat will be my second favorites when they play you.