By now we’re all beginning get an idea of what LeBron’s “Decision” has cost him. For all the opportunity he supposedly gained, he has lost just as much in terms of brand, likability, and public goodwill from NBA fans across the nation.
People have said LeBron gained an opportunity to win multiple Championships, which is funny because I thought he had that opportunity to do the same in Cleveland. Perhaps it will prove to have been harder to do in Cleveland than in Miami, but as LeBron himself said that fateful night “One thing you can’t control is you never know.” For now, that opportunity is rooted in speculation until they prove that 3 great players (Wade, LeBron, Bosh) surrounded by a couple average players (Mario Chalmers, Mike Miller, and I suppose Udonis Haslem) and a whole bunch of below average players (everyone else on the team) can win a title.
Another opportunity he gained was the chance to play with his friends. Again, this is funny because I thought he had that in Cleveland. For the last couple years all of us in Cleveland have immensely enjoyed watching those Cavs teams interact together, and it was LeBron who was the ring leader of all that fun. It sure looked like a bunch of friends playing basketball together, anyway, but I guess now he gets to play with members of his “fam” like Udonis Haslem. Because, you know, it just wouldn’t have felt right to LeBron if Haslem “wasn’t apart (sic) of this”.
Maybe I’m just a jilted lover, but yes, I’m still bitter over The Decision…both the figurative one and the literal one. And with all due respect to ESPN, who continues to be the self-imposed moral authority of sports in telling us all that we’re wrong for being mad at LeBron for any of this, I’m going to instead process all of this at my own pace. I’ll move on when I’m good and ready, and I don’t ESPN’s help with this. I got it.
While I continue to ponder what LeBron’s senseless handling of the decision may or may not have cost him in PR and good will, not to mention what the literal Decision cost Cleveland and the Cavaliers, it never occurred to me all the other ways The Decision could be assigned cost.
That is, until I read a fascinating article in the Stamford Advocate which talks very specifically about the added cost LeBron incurred in order to carry out his silly little TV show. The Advocate’s Neil Vigdor writes,
Producers of the July 8 prime-time special hired 21 police officers to work security, each of them earning $60 an hour for an average of eight hours, according to Lt. Kraig Gray, who was in charge of the operation.
So who gets stuck with the bill of at least $10,000?
“I believe it was LeBron’s people,” Gray said.
Don’t look to ESPN.
“ESPN was not involved with the local police,” said Nate Smeltz, a spokesman for the Bristol-based sports entertainment giant.
Another two officers were called in to do security on an overtime basis, a cost that Gray said will come out of department’s budget and be borne by taxpayers. They also averaged about eight hours at the $60 rate, according to Gray, putting the cost at just less than $1,000.
That’s really only the “tip of the iceberg”, though. This was just for security at the Boys & Girls Club in Greenwich, where Vigdor says officers mostly had to stand there in the heat and listen to the irate (presumably) New York fans shout obscenities and vulgarities. Think of all the additional security required across NE Ohio that was required in the wake of this Decision.
Security was posted outside LeBron’s house in Bath Township, presumably paid for by LeBron. But who paid for the police officials who had to guard the poor LeBron mural in downtown Cleveland? Nike? LeBron? The Cavaliers? Then you consider the extra police presence that was extended throughout Cleveland as a precaution against any violence. And then there were the extra body guards LeBron had with him in Cleveland on that last day in Ohio.
It all begins to add up, and you just kind of wonder what that cost was and if it was really all worth this. Such drama, such pain, such anger and feelings of betrayal. Numerous NBA writers across the country have displayed an uneasy feeling toward LeBron James and the way this whole situation unfolded. Many fans are left feeling once more like the NBA pulled a fast one on them.
We knew when free agency started that LeBron’s Decision, whatever it might be, would send shock waves and reverberations throughout the league, but I never anticipated anything quite like what we saw. Most of what I’ve heard and read from ESPN (the unofficial LeBron James PR team) has said this is all overblown and will die down as soon as LeBron wins a Championship with his BFFs in Miami. They might be right. Heck, they probably are. People have short memories in this country and we winning solves most problems in the NBA. For now, though, I continue to just marvel at the destruction of LeBron’s legacy in the present time and shake my head at how unnecessary all of this really was.
Image Source: (John Kuntz / The Plain Dealer)