Sunday, 4 July 2010

Leaving It To Lebron

All bets are in, every question has been asked, all presentations and promises have been made. Now all we can do is wait. Lebron James has finally finished his meetings with the various teams interested in his signature this summer, as well as our beloved Cavaliers. That's right, he might choose to stay with us after all!

I realise the Lebron saga has been written about by practically every sports journalist in North America and beyond, but I felt I should weigh in with my opinion. Obviously I want Lebron to stay in Cleveland. There isn't another player in basketball like him, and he's easily the most gifted athlete to grace the NBA since his Airness Michael Jordan. Not only is he great for Cleveland from a sporting perspective, but he has done tremendous things for the city socially and economically. Losing him would be devastating for Cleveland, as Andrew over at Waiting For Next Year has explained in a brilliant article detailing just how important Lebron truly is.

I have been in a very fortunate position as a Cavaliers fan, as I have only ever experienced the Cavs in the Lebron era. I've been supporting the Wine & Gold since 2004, so I haven't experienced the team's darker days. Lebron and Cleveland together is all I know. The worst example of a Cleveland player leaving town that I have experienced was when V-Mart was shipped to Boston, and that stung for a quite some time. But Lebron leaving... well I don't really want to think about it, and have tried my best to ignore the possibility of him playing for somebody else for nearly 18 months now. I was naive to think it would all blow over, that Lebron would never consider leaving us. Our dismal playoff exit to the Boston Celtics a few months ago only made things worse; Lebron wants a ring, he needs a championship, and with another limp effort in the post-season gone by, it only stimulates the argument for him to leave for new pastures elsewhere. He has always made it clear how much he loves New York, and its widely known he grew up supporting the Bulls, and a certain Mr Jordan (his idol) especially. Don't forget his close friendship with Jay Z, part-owner of the Nets, who I'm sure would LOVE to have Lebron leading the way for his team. So there are plenty of suitors waiting for him to put pen to paper and become the new face of their franchise.

The Cavs front office, including new head coach Byron Scott, have made their final pitch to Lebron to stay with us, to keep striving for that illusive NBA title. I read that the presentation was short and to the point, and apparently the talks went well. The bit about Lebron being shown a Family Guy-like cartoon depicting himself and the city of Cleveland struck me as being a bit strange, but its supposed to be well known that number 23 is a big fan of cartoons, so I suppose this light hearted approach would appeal to him - if anybody in Cleveland knows Lebron well, surely its the organisation he works for. Lets just hope its worked, and Lebron realises that his best chance to win a much sought after championship is not in Miami, New York, New Jersey or Chicago, but right at home in Cleveland. If Lebron goes to any of those other cities, it'll take a considerable amount of time for those organisations to build a title contending team around him. Now he's still relatively young, only 25 years old, but he is coming off 2 straight MVP seasons and is in the prime of his career. How much longer is he willing to wait until he finally achieves his goal? If he stays with the Cavs, he has a significantly better chance of winning a ring than anywhere else, at least any of those teams that can afford him. Even if he does move to Chicago, who do have the talented Derrick Rose, Lebron wouldn't really be in a better position with the Bulls than he already is with the Cavaliers. Realistically only New York appear to be able to afford two of these premier free agents this summer, but then there is still the difficulty of promising Lebron and Dwyane Wade/Chris Bosh/ Joe Johnson etc, that the other has signed and committed. Even with two of them, its still not enough to make the Knicks a contender, not with the shambles that is their current roster.

Anyway, its out of our hands now. Actually, when was it ever in our hands? Its Lebron's decision to make, we just have to be patient and hope he chooses to stay in the city where he is worshipped, the place he calls home. There's nothing special in New York anyway... right?

Thanks for reading.

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