"When things hit the fan, you see guys' true colours" - Lebron James. This is so true. We have all been there, maybe not as highly publicized as 'the decision', but we've been there. Emotions run high with any decision - getting married, moving, having children, changing jobs - these are all emotionally charged situations we can all relate to in one way or another. When I saw Chris Bosh and Lebron James jerseys being lit up like the fourth of July, I couldn't help but think this was a little extreme. I know I have made some decisions in my life that to this day people have not gotten over but I assure you - like any reasonable person would - those decisions were not made to intentionally hurt anyone. I did what was best for me and my family. This is what Lebron James and Chris Bosh did when they left the City of Cleveland and Toronto respectively. It is reasonable to receive backlash or dissent for any decision made, especially as high profile as this one, but it is not reasonable to be burned at the stake for it. Chris Bosh, Lebron James and Dwayne Wade teaming up for the Miami Heat did not sour the NBA, cause irreparable damage to the City of Cleveland or taint their collective legacies. There are other individuals or factors responsible for the bitter taste this drama has caused. Let's talk about it.
#1 - Decisions made by politicians are responsible for sustaining an economy, not professional basketball players.
If you visit the City of Cleveland's website, it boasts Coca Cola, Dansani Water, M&Ms, Mars bars, Coppertone, Dr. Scholl, Whirlpool, Kenmore, Duracell batteries have been manufactured or produced in Cleveland. They also go on to brag about the many other items which contribute to making the City of Cleveland what it is. So when a professional basketball player leaves, why is it his fault if the city's economy tanks? There are two people responsible for the City of Cleveland and the greater State of Ohio respectively: Mayor Tom Rowland and State Governor Ted Strickland. If anyone wishes express their disdain for the economic argument to Lebron James leaving the City of Cleveland, should really direct their comments to Mayor Rowland and Governor Strickland. These two gentleman got and will loose their jobs based on how the City of Cleveland or the State of Ohio does economically - not Lebron James. His job is to win basketball games and possibly NBA Championships. Lebron James was an employee of the Cavaliers and honoured his end of the contract. The Cleveland Cavaliers as an organization, through their own decision making (not surrounding Lebron with adequate help, benching him before this year's playoffs to name a few), was most likely a contributing factor to Lebron leaving for Miami. Sure, in Cleveland, Lebron was 40 miles from his hometown of Akron and worked for an organization built on his talents and which catered to his every whim, but that was their decision to run the Cavs franchise that way.
#2 - Dan Gilbert - the pot calling the kettle black.
Although NBA Commissioner David Stern thought 'decision 2010' was " ill-conceived, badly produced and poorly executed", he also agreed Lebron James was entitled to make the decision he did and his honesty and integrity did shine through in the process. So this is where I actually start to feel a little sorry for Cavs owner, Dan Gilbert. In an open letter to Cavs fans, Gilbert described Lebron as "narcissistic" and as displaying "cowardly behaviour" for leaving his franchise. Gilbert also guaranteed the Cavs would win one "before the self-titled former 'king' wins one". Sure, be upset he made a decision you didn't like but to throw a hissy fit in letter form? THAT is cowardly. I hope Cleveland fans see through this and realize he may just be trying to cover his own behind for not doing enough to keep Lebron in Cleveland. I agree with Reverend Jesse Jackson's comments when referring to Gilbert's letter: "He speaks as an owner of Lebron and not the owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers". Good thing NBA Commissioner David Stern took his comments seriously. For the follow-up comments Gilbert made with the Associated Press, the Cavs franchise is being fined $100,000. Stern also agrees the comments were a bit extreme.
#3 - LEGACY [leggessi] - ...something that is handed down or remains from a previous generation or time.
So if we look at the literal definition of the word legacy, Lebron's or even Chris Bosh's legacy is still in tact after moving to Miami. The fact that Lebron James, Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade are playing on the same team now does not change the face of the NBA for the worse. Remember Kevin Garnett. He played 12 seasons in Minnesota and was 31 before he gave his approval for a trade to Boston. So the fact that Lebron is 25 shouldn't matter. I disagree with Charles Barkley. I think the argument that Lebron's legacy is tainted now because he didn't win a championship "on his own in Cleveland" is a stretch. I think if we use this argument: champions are made solely by the accolades they receive and not by the content of their character, we are going down a very slippery slope. Lebron James had nothing but praise for the Cavs and its fans when asked by the media to comment on Cavs owner Dan Gilbert's comments. He could have lashed back but didn't. If he stayed in Cleveland, he would've have been accused of being in it for the money since he would have been paid more than in Miami. But instead, he went to Miami for less money and a real shot at winning a championship. Remember - Lebron, Bosh and Wade came into this league together and went their separate ways. They played together at the Worlds and in the Olympics and now they found another opportunity to do so full time. The great William Shakespeare once said "No legacy is so rich as honesty". So let's be honest. The Cavs and Raptors are going to miss Lebron and Bosh respectively, but their departure will present new opportunity. As for the NBA franchises who are struggling, the fact that Lebron or Bosh did not move to those cities, is not their fault but the franchise's. If you are desperate and struggling before, you will continue to be unless you start making some sound business decisions. Bosh, Lebron and Wade are just playing by the rules. And if you don't like their recent decision, you know how the saying goes - "If you can stand the 'Heat', stay out of Miami".
Basketball Beyond the Floor
Remember, this Thursday we will be discussing: The Book of Basketball by Bill Simmons. I will also be giving you my flick pick of the week. Happy reading and see you on Thursday here on the DNB.