You want to have hope. It’s hard to do though when all hope has already been spent. By the time most of us woke up this morning, the news had already hit the wire that according to Chris Broussard, LeBron James has decided to sign with the Miami Heat.
Once again, though, the report is so vague it’s unbearably difficult to tell what it really means. The exact wording Broussard uses in the report is:
Well, which is it? Is he just “leaning toward” signing with the Heat, or has he “decided” to join Wade and Bosh is Miami? There has been so much misinformation and shifts in public opinion on this, much of it coming from Broussard himself, that many of us are just becoming numb to the whole process.
There is so much room for movement and reversals in Broussard’s report that it dares us to still believe Cleveland has a shot in this thing. It’s tough, though. Broussard isn’t alone on this. Newsday’s Alan Hahn reported the same thing. JA Adande tweeted that he had a source tell him it’s 90% certain to be Miami. Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Marc Spears are reporting that LeBron is so certain of his decision that he has already begun to recruit free agents to come to Miami:
James’ representatives spent part of Wednesday calling free agents to assess their interest in helping strengthen the Heat roster. James’ camp, sources said, went so far as to propose scenarios where the Heat would trade forward Michael Beasley(notes) to create additional salary-cap space to sign a complementary player. In those conversations, the representatives spoke only of Miami as the destination for James.
There’s nothing wrong with still believing and still hoping that something can happen to change LeBron’s mind, but at this point, this story is different than the usual “LeBron is considering this, leaning toward that, flying to here, meeting with them” type of stories we’ve been getting. There’s meat to this report.
We can save the talk about what LeBron going to Miami says about him until he actually makes that announcement and we hear it from his mouth. There will be a time and a place to discuss the fallout from this decision. We can talk about where the Cavaliers go from here. But none of that matters quite yet. LeBron’s announcement isn’t until 9:00 pm tonight, so we’ll wait for it to be official before we get our hands dirty.
I guess Miami makes sense. People seem to have a lot of doubts about Miami’s ability to win if the “Bigger 3” join salaries, and I really hope they’re right, but I don’t share their skepticism. I’ve watched LeBron James play basketball night in and night out for 7 years now. I know what he’s capable of doing on the floor. He led Eric Snow, Sasha Pavlovic, Drew Gooden, and Zydrunas Ilgauskas to the NBA Finals. He led a team of Mo Williams, Anderson Varejao, Ilgauskas, and other role players to back to back best records in the NBA. He’s played with good players in Cleveland for sure, but nothing like Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
And that’s what scares me more than anything. Losing LeBron would be devastating enough as it is, but I hate even more what this says about the sport I love so much. It could create a dangerous precedent that I don’t want to see become the trend. Rather than doing what Cleveland did, and try to improve your team to make your superstar happy, now teams might see a better plan of attack be to actually destroy your roster and slash all salary and bottom out your team just to add a couple stars who are incapable of winning a title on their own.
Rather than seeing teams try to more or less build their roster organically like Cleveland, Chicago, Portland, Oklahoma City, etc have done, we might begin to see more shameful displays of self-sabotage like New York and Miami pulled off. It could become a league of arms races. What has always been a sport about spreading out the stars so every team could keep their own stars and build around them will become a league of tampering and collusion.
I wasn’t going to be happy no matter where LeBron went, but I could have at least lived with and understood the Chicago move. The Bulls built that team in a manner any NBA follower can respect and feel good about. There’s something about this Miami situation that feels dirty and impure. Not that anything illegal or shady happened here, but it just doesn’t make you feel good about the NBA as a whole.
The NBA has always been about rivalries. Going all the way back to Wilt vs Russell up to Bird vs Magic or Jordan vs everyone. It was Lakers-Celtics, Celtics-Sixers, Pistons-Celtics, Bulls-Pistons, Lakers-Blazers, Lakers-Kings, etc. We lived for epic battles betweens teams and superstars who didn’t want to join up together, but wanted to compete and beat each other. That sentiment seems to be gone. If LeBron does follow through and head to Miami, it changes much about the way I thought about the NBA.
I don’t know whether or not to allow myself to believe that this is all building suspense for ESPN and that LeBron’s heart is really still in Cleveland. It’s encouraging to know that Chris Paul is fighting for Cleveland’s sake and telling LeBron he should stay and let Byron Scott coach him. It sounds like some friends and family of LeBron are not thrilled with the idea of Miami. These are all factors that may yet make a difference.
So no, I don’t know what LeBron’s decision will be. All I do know is that I’m ready for this to be over with. One way or the other, I’m ready to move on. I’m just clinging to my last little sliver of hope that just once good things can prevail in Cleveland. After all, that tiny sliver of hope is all I really have left.