How perfectly convenient that today is my off-day from Ironman training. Normally, I'd write about enjoying some rest and relaxation. But the truth is, I'm a little worked up.
I got sucked into watching the LeBron James ESPN special last night, which fueled me to post on Facebook some initial reaction to the news that King James was "taking his talents to South Beach." In this 140-character limit society, I succinctly outlined that I think James cheapened his legacy in pursuit of a more immediate path to winning an NBA Championship.
This led to -- no joke -- 23 comments on my page. Granted, at least five of them were replies from me defending my statement.
I'm getting pretty sick of whittling every thought or sentence down to two separate statements. So, in response, here's my thoughts on the counterarguments lobbed against me, and why I disagree.
-- You'd do the same thing!! One person, apparently an uber-James supporter, tried to put the Nike on my foot by asking if I had a dream job would I not take it due to loyalty. The truth is, I've been offered more money and other perks to leave my current job for organizations with bigger and arguably better resources. While remaining in the entertainment business that I love. I turned them down. I work for an organization that deserves but never demands loyalty. I've been treated extremely well, and want to return the favor. I want to help build something special here -- even when times aren't always the best. So yes, I walk the talk on this topic. In other words, I would have stayed in Cleveland. Especially after spouting how important the city, region and state are to me my entire life. I would be tied to Cleveland, and the city would be tied to me. Even if it meant never playing in a championship. If that were to be my destiny, so be it.
-- Kobe would have left if he were in Cleveland. Maybe. But he didn't leave LA even though he complained loudly about doing so (just like LeBron). And, by the way, Kobe chose to stay with no guarantee that the Lakers would land Pau Gasol. To me, what helps define greatness in sports is building a legacy. For one team. Through all the ups and downs. Kobe. Jordan. Bird. Magic. Reggie Miller. Stockton. Duncan. Robinson. Paul Pierce (ugh, I hate including him on this list!). The list goes on and spans several sports. Call me old school, but loyalty to one organization throughout a Hall of Fame career means just a little bit more than bouncing from team to team in search of glory and rings (are you listening, Shaq?).
If Kobe had left the Lakers to pursue titles elsewhere, I'd be saying the same thing about him.
-- Cleveland brought this on itself. How? They tried to do everything LeBron asked. He wanted a center? They brought in Shaq. He wanted a complementary third piece? They brought in Antawn Jamison and Mo Williams. They brought in a top-notch coach, Byron Scott, who commanded the respect of one of James' closest friends, Chris Paul. All the while, King James kept the franchise hanging at his beck and call. Granted, this is as much Dan Gilbert's fault as anyone else's. And we won't even get started on that letter he wrote.
OK, we will.
Seriously, what a poor choice of words. I agree with Gilbert's sentiment and passion, but keep LeBron specifically out of it and focus on the future. (Maybe a few cleverly worded jabs of the kind Phi Jackson has made a career of sharing.) That would have been a huge step in the right direction. If I were a fan of the Cavaliers, that kind of message -- sans the overt James vitriol --would have fired me up to stay upbeat about my team in the wake of such devastating news. Now, Cleveland looks even sadder and more pathetic a destination than before. Which sucks considering the Cavs need a new plan for how to stay relevant in the League now more than ever. Way to unintentionally shoot yourself in the foot, Dan.
-- Miami will go undefeated! Sure, just like the Dream Team Lakers with Karl Malone, Gary Payton, Kobe, Shaq and Fisher. Or the Jail Blazers virtual All-Star teams of the early 2000's. People, it takes a village, as the saying goes. And a heck of a coach to mold all those personalities and egos. I agree that this trio has the potential to be among the greatest the League has ever seen. But it's about the supporting cast. As good as Magic, Kareem and Worthy were, the great Showtime Lakers teams had Cooper, Byron, Rambis, McAdoo, AC Green, etc. Jordan's bulls had Pippen, Kucoc, Grant...uh...who else did they have?
Oh that's right, Jordan elevated average players' games enough to win multiple titles. With rosters only slightly better than the recent Cavs teams.
So in the end, exactly what are we all witnesses to? From where I sit, a self-absorbed, confused, massively talented young man taking the easy way out to a Championship ring. Someone who truly did listen to his mother and did what was best for him -- and only what was best for him. LeBron didn't even have the class to tell Cleveland properly before the actual announcement, instead giving way to higher ratings and greater drama. Did LeBron's momma weigh in on that too? And using children as a backdrop? It felt phony. Produced. Too slick for its own good.
Sort of like LeBron's professed love for Ohio and his entire King James/savior persona.
Come to think of it, the fake glitz and glamour of South Beach is the perfect fit for LeBron.
Cleveland, with its collective hard-hat mentality and blue-collar work ethic, deserves better. It always did.
134 days and counting.