look out cleveland
am i a little late on this? sure, i guess. but there were so many reactionary pieces written immediately after the announcement that i knew mine would get lost in the shuffle (whatever shuffle that may be, with all 3 of the people who read this- hi mom!) if i put it up right away and without thinking about what the whole thing meant. two weeks after lebron’s second decision, it’s been funny watching how everything has played out. he just announced today that he would again be wearing 23 for his jersey number, which i think is a bad move after all the comments he made 4+ years ago about how it should be retired permanently by every team in mj’s honor. other than that, i’ve enjoyed every aspect of the summer and the rest of the nba free agency period. it’s like the season never really ends now, and that’s great for people who don’t care about the nfl offseason or pre-october baseball.
as for the letter? i love the letter. love it. even as a lifelong celtics fan i’ve always appreciated lebron’s game and the opportunity we all have to watch him play. this was a touching act that we never see in sports, let alone general pop culture. i hated the decision because of the way it was handled, but i love this so much more than i hated his first try. credit to lebron, his team and dan gilbert, who apologized for the letter and seemed to take the full blame on that end. yes this a business and all that shit but stuff like this doesn’t happen in everyday life, and is ultimately part of why people love sports to begin with. as for the buffoons on talk radio and elsewhere picking over every single line of the letter, like how lebron means more to cleveland than just basketball and how he hopes people will follow his lead and return to akron and other ohio towns after they finish college to start a business. people have seriously been laughing at that. at that sentiment.
i don’t mean to get all “leave britney alone” but what is that if not leadership? he left for 4 years to live in play in miami, akron’s polar opposite. he got two rings in four finals appearances, got a taste of what life outside of the midwest was like, and is coming back home to presumably finish his career. i’m not sure i’d do the same thing in his position as i’m currently living about as far away from the area i grew up in as you can be in the continental u.s., but before getting into the basketball side of things i think his intent is exactly as he says it is. i’m not an economist, but lebron’s return will absolutely have a huge positive effect on cleveland and hopefully the outlying areas. and we’re questioning his motives? pure duncery.
now that i’ve gotten all the dad from seventh heaven shit out of my system: yes, he hired a longtime political pr strategist who most likely had a lot to do with this, but i believe that those are his words in the sports illustrated article, and i believe that he truly wants to return for the right reasons. the letter is a thing of beauty, and anyone who even remotely cares about sports, nevermind the nba, needs to read it. and credit also to sports illustrated and lee jenkins for having the idea, getting lebron on board, executing it flawlessly and keeping it a secret until the second it hit the website. chris sheridan, the one guy i think who never wavered from his prediction that lebron was going to cleveland, even gave them props for the whole thing, and his ego is healthy enough to fuel dan gilbert’s round trip flight to south beach. all in all this was a great day for sports that i’ll remember for a long time.
as for lebron, this is a guy who tried to be the villain during his first year in miami. normally i love rooting for the villain (sweep the leg zabka- you’re the real karate kid) but it was obvious that it wasn’t a natural role for him, and it really just made everyone hate him even more. i was happy to see him win titles in 2012 and 2013, mostly because i wanted to stop listening to people question his greatness and place in basketball history and move on to appreciating his prime years. like phil mickelson after he finally won his first major, once that first title happened we were all able to move on and accept his abilities for what they are.
so that brings us to the actual basketball portion of the return. i am going to say this once: lebron james will win multiple championships with the cleveland cavaliers. not one,
not two, not three, not four at least two, potentially three or more. make no mistake about it: he is going home and everyone can feel mushy mushy for a few days, but the last four years have taught us one thing about him and that is that he is the most competitive player in the association (kobe’s done- if he were really as competitive as he and all his fluffers would have us believe then he would have never signed that ridiculous contract extension last fall and instead had kupchak use that extra money to get better players to not only support him and the lakers but in actuality lead them, as he’s on his verrrry last legs).
so the honeymoon can be enjoyed until monday morning when lebron presumably returns from the world cup and gets back to work, as he himself admitted was a necessary part of this whole process. kevin love will be a member of the cavs sooner rather than later, wiggins -if they keep him- has huge potential and will be a tremendous defensive presence, and irving will be even more confient than he would’ve already been with lbj joining him and letting him abdicate the additional leadership responsibilities. those four are scaring the shit out of me right now and its barely the end of july. this is going to be a fun year to watch this team because they won’t have everything figured out yet but will be able to get by the majority of their games on pure talent and lebron’s experience. 50 wins is a legitimate potential, maybe more depending on how well they mesh. but by halloween 2015? jesus mercy look out.
mj won his last title in 1998 when he was 35. lebron said in his letter that he wants to finish his career with the cavs, so going by that we can assume he’s never leaving for another team at this point. he will be 30 in december of this upcoming season, so hoping that he doens’t suffer any injuries, that gives him at least 6 seasons to reach the same age that mj was when he retired for the second time. love is 25, wiggins 19 or 20, irving 21 or 22. those guys will be in their prime and just hitting their prime when lebron hits the jordan mark. five years of playing together before hitting that “final” sixth year- are you kidding me? and we haven’t even touched on the rest of cleveland’s assets, one of which is an i believe unprotected first round miami pick in 2017. or not even touching on my absolute reach of a theory of lebron being near the end at 35 (though i think it is a good comparison if only for the number of rings each has and ended up with, respectively).
tim duncan is 38, a pf/c who has taken as much as if not more physical punding than lebron, and just won his fifth ring. he’s had gregg popovich as his coach his entire career and played with 3-5 (maybe more) hall of fame players. but with the medical knowledge and technology at the league’s disposal? he could play at his prime level and a lesser but still very high level for another ten years! this was entirely unfathomable exactly four years ago, but the fact that we are here is more exciting than the decision or the heatles ever were. this is was what i was hpoing for, what i think everyone who loves the nba was hoping for, and most importantly what cleveland was hoping for. i am genuinely happy for that city, and since the celtics don’t look to be making a run at the playoffs anytime soon, i hope they get at least one title out of this.
and for any of you jabronis who don’t the reference in the title, here ya go: