Jul 9, 2010

I'm Confused, LeBron

There is something about this whole LeBron James situation that I just don't get. I'm not talking about not LIKING it. There is that, too. I think that LeBron has proven himself a narcissistic drama queen with little or no regard for anyone but himself. But that is beside the point. Any moral umbrage that I could generate has probably already been plastered all over blogs and sports pages. I have a different set of values than LBJ - shoot, than most athletes. That is actually neither here or there. I'm not going to rip on his right to earn money or play wherever he wants. What I am saying is that the whole process just didn't even make sense.

Why would a player move teams? A better question - why would YOU switch jobs? There are only so many reasons why a person would leave a job.
  1. Fired/Laid Off/Dismissed
  2. Demoted/Promoted
  3. More Chance for Advancement
  4. Better Set of Duties
  5. Better Situation for Family
  6. More Prestigious Company
  7. Better Co-Workers
  8. More Money
  9. Flat Out Hate Current Job
What other reasons are there? I would wager most other reasons are sub-points of these nine reasons. With an athlete, you can come up with their versions of those nine reasons, with one addition.
  1. Cut/Released/Traded
  2. Benched
  3. Better Chance to Start
  4. Better Set of Duties
  5. Better Situation for Family
  6. More Prestigious Team
  7. Better Teammates
  8. More Money
  9. Better Chance for Titles
  10. Hates Current Team
So, looking at those nine athletic reasons, why exactly did LeBron go to Miami?

CUT/RELEASED/TRADED: Uh, no. This was NOT the case.

BENCHED: Again, no. Not the case

BETTER CHANCE TO START: Um, LeBron was already starting.

BETTER SET OF DUTIES: You see this sometimes where a player was playing out of position on one team. Maybe he is actually a power forward and has been playing center. Or he really wants to be a Free Safety and has been playing Linebacker. So they switch teams to where they can actually play what they like playing. This does come into play a little bit with Bron Bron. Everyone likes saying he is the "Next Jordan." There are a million reasons why that is incorrect, starting with his half-butt performance in the playoffs this year (something Jordan didn't even do when he had the Bird Flu against the Jazz). He actually is the "Next Magic Johnson." Bill Simmons of ESPN has argued this case since James entered the league. He isn't a scorer as much as a play maker. With Cleveland, he was expected to do everything. Let's face it, who else was he going to have help him? Zombie Shaq? Boobie Gibson? (Of course, I don't want to dip too much into point seven.) So, finding a place where he can be a play maker would be attractive. Is that Miami? I'm not really sure. Yes, having Dwayne Wade there will help his assists numbers. But I really don't know if LeBron is going to be able to "do his thing" any better with the Heat than any other team? Not really, especially if he had dragged Bosh and Wade with him somewhere else. In fact, with Miami's lack of supporting players, you could argue James will have MORE on his shoulders than even in Cleveland.

BETTER SITUATION FOR FAMILY: This is one of the biggest reasons athletes do anything. "If I move to Seattle, I'll be closer to my thirteen kids and their mommas." I mean, even Pope Urban Meyer used the family reason before. LeBron has always made himself out to be about family. But this move has NOTHING to do with family. He is from Ohio. His family is from Ohio. And after viciously stabbing the Cavs in the back, he won't be welcome in Ohio. And his family will still be stuck there. This doesn't help his family at all. In fact, his family was left out of the decision making process entirely. They wanted him to stay. So, he can't play this card.

MORE PRESTIGIOUS TEAM: The Cavs are NOT one of the NBA elite teams. They may be one with a better record, thanks to LBJ. But they are NOT a premiere team. Lakers, Celtics, Knicks. Those are the prestigious teams. You could argue that the Sixers, Bulls, Spurs are in a higher tier. You know who's not? The freaking Miami Heat. Yes, they won a title. Actually, they robbed the Mavericks of a title thanks to the shakiest officiating since Nick Patrick was working NWO matches. The Heat have arguably the WORST fans in the NBA. They can't even sell out playoff games. There were even Finals games they didn't sell out - with Shaq and Wade on the roster!!! If it was about joining a big time team, the Heat would have been riding the pine with the Clippers.

BETTER TEAMMATES: Here is where there is some validity. LeBron wanted to play with his friends. He wanted to spend the next few years playing with Wade and Bosh - and try to lure Chris Paul there in 2012. So, this could have been his reason. Except. He could have manufactured this at any of several locations. He could have brought Wade and Bosh to Chicago - or at least one of them. Same thing with the Clippers, the Knicks, the Nets. Shoot, he even could have made it happen by getting Bosh to go to the Cavs. So it wasn't necessary for him to go the Heat. What he basically did was go and start his own team in Miami - they are starting from scratch. He picked three people in the pick up game and said, "We'll fill the rest in with scrubs." The thing that is really puzzling is that the Cavs were a VERY tight team. They loved each other and joked around. They had fun together. LBJ loved Big Z. The team hung out off the court. It was one of the better chemistry teams out there. Was playing with a different set of players better? The biggest thing, though, is that the Cavs had a horrible supporting cast. It was pathetic. So he HAD to get help. The Cavs front office had never brought in help for him. They kept picking up pieces for a one year run. They never planned for the future. They were really incompetent. So, James needed better teammates. But, really he just picked two buddies. He has no clue what kind of help they are going to have. There is no money left - except for bare minimum stuff. Yes, it is an upgrade -- and it is a downgrade at the same time. Wouldn't he have been better off bringing one of his amigos to the Bulls, where there already were some great players (Rose, Noah) to accompany them?

MORE MONEY: See, this is a weird one. Actually, LeBron cost himself about $30 million by signing with the Heat. The Cavs could have given him an extra year and more money. So, by jumping ship, he actually cost himself money. Now, if the Heat had executed a sign and trade with the Cavs, then he could have gotten that bigger pay day. There were a few problems with that. First of all, the Heat have ONE PLAYER on their roster right now. So, they have nothing to give Cleveland. Second, the way that LBJ ran this whole process made sure that the Cavs will not do ANYTHING to help him out. If he was to blow both ACLs this weekend as his "Welcome to Miami" party this weekend, the Cavs would probably throw their own party. I know that people will talk about Florida's act of a state income tax, but that only saves him about $2 million per year, which does not add up to $30 million over five years. Miami is bigger than Cleveland, but it is not on par with L.A. or N.Y.C. He had opportunities in both of those other cities (Clippers, Knicks, Nets). As far as sponsorships and endorsements go, he had WAY more possibilities elsewhere. And that is not even taking into account the international exposure that the Russian Mafia owner of the Nets could have provided. It wasn't just money. [This was a similar thing with Shaq when he screwed over Orlando for the Lakers. He actually took less money there. But, in his case, being in Hollywood allowed him to make movies and albums. And punished us with Kazaam.]

BETTER CHANCE FOR TITLES: I know that people are throwing this around. There even are people saying he took the easy road to a title by joining forces with great players instead of playing them. I don't agree that he is any closer to a title in Miami than in Cleveland. Are they going to win this year? With the pathetic lineup they will have with those three guys? No. They may not even win their division. They play in the same division as the Magic and Hawks - two playoff teams last year. That is not a cake walk. So, what did they actually guarantee? They have no defense. They will have an impressive offense. Bosh is overrated. Wade and James can't cover everyone. And they'll have a pu pu platter of other players. I mean, they are still trying to go out and get a "shooter" like JJ Reddick. They don't even have a SHOOTER? What the heck are Wade and James? So they are missing a big powerful body to match up against people like Dwight Howard and Kendrick Perkins. They are missing a shooter. And they are missing their second and third strings. By 2012, they may be able to lure Chris Paul. What about this year or next year? If he really wanted to win titles, he should have gone to Chicago. If he and Bosh or he and Wade had gone there - even if he and Boozer had gone there - you could have signed them up for four titles easy. They already had a great team - with no need to gut it. It wasn't about titles. He has always said that was it - that was why he couldn't stay in Cleveland. But that is hogwash. The rings didn't matter. They probably will win one at some point - but that is not set in stone.

HATES CURRENT TEAM: Since you can't really say any of the other reasons are the real reason, you would have to wonder if this comes into play. But, really, is this even a possibility? There was nothing that made it seem like he hated Cleveland. He always seemed to be enjoying himself. He was a hometown boy. But, the way he played this whole thing out. It makes you sick. He knew where he was going from the beginning. He knew he wasn't coming back to Ohio. Why the act? And why the whole hour long self-absorbed special? He ripped the heart out of the entire fan base on national television. Again, referencing Bill Simmons, it was like when Hulk Hogan joined the NWO. It was wrong on so many levels. Usually that level of viciousness is reserved for revenge against a team who had hurt you or wronged you. But, there was no evidence of that.

So, why? What was the point? If he had wanted to create his own empire, he could have done that anywhere. If he had wanted to build his "brand," the Nets were actually the best option. If he had wanted to build his legacy, he should have stayed in Cleveland. If he wanted to win titles, he should have gone to Chicago. Instead, he went to the butthole of the NBA and set up shop. The only reason was that he wanted to. For some reason, he just wanted to go there. I don't understand why. I don't think anyone really does, except maybe LeBron himself. Nothing he did made sense. From his quitting in the playoffs to his self-imposed exile until free agency started to forcing teams to try to seduce him to the one hour show to the decision. It has made no sense. It has violated all logic. James actually hurt his image - becoming a villain to many sports fans. He gave tons of NBA fans a new team to loathe. [Trust me, the Heat just jumped the Celtics and Lakers for my least favorite team.] He gets to play in South Beach, hang out with his pals, make lots of money. That doesn't seem like a well-thought out plan. It sounds like a college kid picking a Spring Break locale.