We Are All Witnesses…But Not Much Longer.

But I don’t WANT the playoffs to be over!” says Sad LeBron (photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

As Game Two of the NBA Finals looms, things aren’t looking real good for the underdog Cleveland Cavaliers. Unlike his boast when he  took his talents to South Beach  there  would be “Not one…not two…not three.. ” championships with the  Miami Heat, LeBron James didn’t guarantee the Cavs would win any. In fact, after reaching the championship round, James copped to being surprised they made it that far this soon.

The Cavs were already the underdog in the match-up against Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors, but when you’ve got the greatest player in the game you’ve always got a puncher’s chance. That was before Kevin Love was knocked out of the playoffs when the Celtics’ Kelly Olynyk tried to take Love’s shoulder home with him. That was before Kyrie Irving’s left kneecap blew off and sent him to the surgeon’s table. James is known to make his teammates better than they actually are, but even for him this is a mighty heavy lift.

Pop Quiz: Know who Shannon Brown, Damon Jones, Sasha Pavolic, Scot Pollard and Ira Newble are?

They were  a few teammates of James on the ’06-07 Cavaliers  and a pretty talentless bunch  he carried on his back to the NBA Finals where they were swept away  by the Spurs.  Without Irving and Love, James simply does not have enough bullets in his belt  to take the pressure from him to perform at a superhuman level to win a championship. Role players like Iman Shumpert,  J.R. Smith, Matthew Dellavdova and Tristan Thompson are not going to turn into superstars against a team as deep and balanced as the Warriors.

It’s been suggested if James is really that great he should be able to find a way to overcome the odds and carry this depleted roster to the title.   Those suggestions are as useful  as a bag full of broken hammers.

Michael Jordan used to wear the title “Best Player On the Planet” but he needed Pippen and Grant before he put on any rings. Dr. J. needed Moses, Kareem needed Magic and Bird needed Parrish and McHale. Ya feel me?

“Sorry, bro. You on your own. “

In NO way is James diminished as a the Greatest player in the NBA if he loses this championship. Remember when the Lakers had Gary Payton and Karl Malone to go with Shaq and Kobe? They lost to the Pistons that year whose biggest “star” were Rasheed and Ben Wallace! TEAMS win championships. One man gangs playing hero ball do not.

It’s disingenuous to even suggest LeBron is lessened when he’s playing with role players, guys who weren’t even on the team when the season started and scrubs.

I’d love to see LeBron triumph and beat the odds by leading the Cavs to a championship, but my desires are tempered by reality. Even King James cannot play every minute, bring the ball up court, call the play, put everyone in the right place on the floor, distribute the rock, take the shot, knock it down, box out, grab the rebound, get back on “D”, guard all five opposing players, pop the popcorn, shake the pom-poms at halftime, coach the team and drive the team bus.

The bigger problem for the Cavs is their coach, David Blatt.    He took the job before James came back to town and since then  LeBron has made it clear he doesn’t listen to Blatt; he tolerates him (barely).   Curry does not have a similar problem being coached by Steve Kerr.   Unlike Blatt, Kerr played in the NBA and with Jordan no less.   He knows a little something about how to play with a superstar.   Blatt can’t buy a clue.

His name is LeBron James. It would take LeBron Jesus to carry these  Cavs to a championship.    The Warriors want what LeBron already has: a championship ring and their strategy is not to double team him and not try to shut him down.   Let LeBron get his and see who else can get anything.

James dismisses any strategy teams are allowing him to do his thing while challenging the other guys to do anything.

“Well, first of all, you can’t let me have 40,” James said following the Game One overtime loss where he scored the Cavs lone two points,   “You don’t let me have 40. I go get 40. It’s not like they’re just getting out of the way. So those guys aren’t saying we’re okay with letting him have 40. You don’t let me have 40; I’m making those shots.”

But you didn’t make the shot that would have won the game in regulation, LeBron.    You got 44 points.  You needed 46

His performance in Game Three against the Hawks was nothing short of Herculean. His 37 points, 18 rebounds and 13 assists was magnificent and that’s on top of battling his own knee and ankles injuries (as well as  Blatt’s brain fart in playcalling and counting time outs).

Meet The 2006 Cleveland Cavaliers. It’s okay if you don’t remember them.

I was one of those who was royally pissed by the clumsy way LeBron exited Cleveland and The Decision was one of the worst p.r. mistakes ever made by a pro athlete. But he learned and I have learned to forgive and forget. I welcome him back to Ohio and I wish him nothing but well. James doesn’t have brushes with the law. Doesn’t hang out in the clubs and strip joints. Doesn’t seem to be dropping little LeBrons all around the country. He appears to be a family man who is taking care of them and building himself into a global brand. Good for the brother, I say.

Win this series or lose it, LeBron is still who he is: The Greatest Player in the NBA Today. Truth.   He will not give up and he will not roll over and crown the Warriors.   If there’s a way to will the Cavaliers to a win, James can do it.    With  King James there’s a chance to avoid a repeat of The Sweep the Spurs laid on the Cavs in 2007.

But they won’t win.   They can’t win.   Warriors in five.

Riley Curry waves “bye-bye” to the Cavaliers in the NBA Finals.

 

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LeBron Proves You CAN Go Home Again.

I’m back. Get it?

It’s a good thing for both LeBron James personally and for the city of Cleveland specifically that after a bitter four-year estrangement, he’s coming back to the Cavaliers to try to finish what he started. It’s an even better thing for those of whom live in Ohio where this whole “is he or isn’t he” scenario has played out in real-time.

The way James handled The Return beat the hell out of the public relations fiasco that was The Decision. Everything about The Decision was overstated, overblown and a barely concealed flipping the middle finger to Northeast Ohio where James toiled seven years carrying a Cavaliers team mostly devoid of talent. Bitter feelings and bad karma abounded on both sides though Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert carried it too far with a poison pen letter soaked in Haterade that could be found on the team’s website as recently as a week ago.

“I PERSONALLY GUARANTEE THAT THE CLEVELAND CAVALIERS WILL WIN AN NBA CHAMPIONSHIP BEFORE THE SELF-TITLED FORMER ‘KING’ WINS ONE

You can take it to the bank.

Not one of Gilbert’s non-James teams finished above .500. The bank stayed closed.

That letter has since been scrubbed from the Cavaliers website, but the Internet never forgets no matter how much Gilbert wishes it would.

LeBron’s words to Sports Illustrated (and quite noticeably not ESPN) were far more gracious in showing the grace, class and maturity he had developed in four years that were missing in Gilbert’s published temper tantrum.    If you haven’t read it you definitely should.   It’s pretty damned impressive reading.

I’m not having a press conference or a party. After this, it’s time to get to work.

When I left Cleveland, I was on a mission. I was seeking championships, and we won two. But Miami already knew that feeling. Our city hasn’t had that feeling in a long, long, long time. My goal is still to win as many titles as possible, no question. But what’s most important for me is bringing one trophy back to Northeast Ohio.

I always believed that I’d return to Cleveland and finish my career there. I just didn’t know when. After the season, free agency wasn’t even a thought. But I have two boys and my wife, Savannah, is pregnant with a girl. I started thinking about what it would be like to raise my family in my hometown. I looked at other teams, but I wasn’t going to leave Miami for anywhere except Cleveland. The more time passed, the more it felt right. This is what makes me happy.

To make the move I needed the support of my wife and my mom, who can be very tough. The letter from Dan Gilbert, the booing of the Cleveland fans, the jerseys being burned — seeing all that was hard for them. My emotions were more mixed. It was easy to say, “OK, I don’t want to deal with these people ever again.” But then you think about the other side. What if I were a kid who looked up to an athlete, and that athlete made me want to do better in my own life, and then he left? How would I react? I’ve met with Dan, face-to-face, man-to-man. We’ve talked it out. Everybody makes mistakes. I’ve made mistakes as well. Who am I to hold a grudge?

Michael Wilbon, who is from Chicago, said it well when he noted James has “Midwestern values” and he honestly LIKES living in Northern Ohio. James could live anywhere  on the planet. What’s so terrible about going back home?

When LeBron left four years ago and more importantly, HOW he left was awkward, clumsy and a hot mess of hype, bad juju and ugliness. He went out like a punk. I called him “LeGone” and meant every word of the contemptuous vitriol I spat his way.

But a funny thing happened over the last four years. My harsh feelings toward James disappeared. How he played on the court with the Heat and how he lived his life off the court with his family won me over. We never hear about James getting in trouble, being busted for drugs, shooting up strip clubs at 2:00 am, banging women coast to coast and dropping’ Little LeBrons all over the U.S.A. From all appearances, James is a solid, stable Family Guy who stays out of the headlines with all the usual non-sports related shenanigans.

Will the second time around be just dust in the wind for James?

As regards Dan Gilbert goes he was a total a-hole the way he handled LeBron taking his talents to South Beach. He spewed contempt for his lone superstar. But for all his bluster, Gilbert had to know how screwed he really was once James left town. He said they would win a championship before James did but it didn’t quite turn out that way.

Check the Cavs record since the ’09-10 season.

09-10: 61-21 (James’ last year in Cleveland)
10-11: 19-63
11-12: 21-45 (lockout shortened season)
12-13: 33-49

If you were Dan Gilbert wouldn’t you pretty much kiss LeBron’s ass to get him back?

Dwayne Wade weighed in with his own thoughts on his former teammate’s return to the Buckeye State:

As a friend and a teammate, I am sad to see my brother LeBron leave to begin a new journey. In 2010, we decided to come together all for one goal — to win championships and we succeeded. We were friends when we first joined the league and created an unbreakable bond the past four years. Our collaboration will always be very special to me both personally and professionally. We shared something unique and he will always be part of my family. LeBron made the right decision for him and his family because home is where your heart is. I know this was not an easy decision to make and I support him in returning to his roots. As an organization, a community, and as individuals, we achieved the goals we set when we first signed on together. We are champions.

Washington Wizards v/s Miami Heat December 18,...

King James and D-Wade say goodbye to all that.

Classy, but then the Miami Heat is a class organization as other well wishes to Lebron from team owner Micky Arison and general manager Pat Riley have echoed Wade’s sentiments. When James returns to Miami in the future he knows he will hear the boos of the disappointed fans, but they will likely be drowned out by the applause of the grateful ones remembering the four consecutive championship appearances and two wins King James led the Heat to.

If Wade is ready to move on, why should I hate on LeBron for coming home to take care of unfinished business? Sure he may never win a championship with the Cavaliers, but it won’t be because he didn’t come back to try.

There are plenty of unlikable owners who own great teams. I am not going to boo the Cavs because their boss is a jerkwad. Plenty of us have worked for bosses who were bastards, but we did the job and cashed the check anyway. Why should we hold James to a higher standard then we do ourselves?

Let’s be honest here. James did what he thought was best for him and his family.  I know there are “fans” who honestly believe LeBron should have put their needs ahead of his own.   They need to set the alarm clock and wake the hell up.

Welcome Home King James.   Now can I get back to focusing on NFL football camps opening Friday?

Yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s the “Return of the King.” You got a problem with that?

 

Vanishing Act: LeBron is LeGone

 

  

 

This is a business. I had seven great years in Cleveland. I hope the fans understand, and maybe they won’t.”   

~ LeGone James, newest resident of South Beach   

It’s not about him leaving. It’s the disrespect. It’s time for people to hold these athletes accountable for their actions. Is this the way you raise your children? I’ve been holding this all in for a long time.  

~ Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan “Kill the King” Gilbert  

For LeBron James relocating his kingdom from Cleveland to Miami is about two things:  winning a championship (or several) and maximizing his brand potential.   For Dan Gilbert, his erstwhile employer it’s not business at all.  It’s personal as in a personal insult and he’s not going to hold the door for James as he departs.   If anything, Gilbert’s bashing of LeGone is more along the lines of “don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.”     

If you’ve thought about buying a Lebron James jersey I hear they’re having a fire sale in Cleveland.     

Word of advice to Cavaliers fans:  Don’t take it so seriously.  It’s only a game.  Nobody’s lost life here.  Setting fire to James’ old jersey?  Smooth move, folks.   Couldn’t find any rope?  There is no guarantee that James will be soaking in a champagne bath next season in Miami.  Can Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh and James co-exist and raise hell during the regular season?  More than likely and their quest for the ring will be featured on Sportscenter every night and they are a stone cold lock to be playing in primetime on Christmas Day.  The only question is will it be against the Lakers or a road game in Cleveland.   But don’t pass them the trophy just yet.  Nobody wins a championship simply by front-loading the roster with three superstars and filling out the roster with nine warm bodies and assorted table scraps.    

Chemistry is not overrated.  The Three Amigos of the Boston Celtics (Garnett, Pierce and Allen) had it.  The Less than Fearsome Foursome of the Los Angeles Lakers (Bryant, O’Neal, Malone, and Payton) did not.   If Miami storms through the regular season and flops in the playoffs LeGone will look like the kind of hopeless loser whom if he felt into a barrel of nipples would come out sucking his thumb.   James has put himself into a situation where he has to win a championship because all of his excuses are gone now.    

The night James announced he was realigning the balance of power in the NBA he received two parting gifts from Dan Gilbert, owner of the Cavaliers:  a blood enemy for the rest of his career and all the motivation to go all out in his quest for a ring.     Gilbert didn’t just burn his bridges with LeGone; he blew them up and salted the earth for good measure.   

 Dear Cleveland, All of Northeast Ohio and Cleveland Cavaliers Wherever You May Be Tonight; 

As you now know, our former hero, who grew up in the very region that he deserted this evening, is no longer a Cleveland Cavalier. 

This was announced with a several day, narcissistic, self-promotional build-up culminating with a national TV special of his “decision” unlike anything ever “witnessed” in the history of sports and probably the history of entertainment.  

Clearly, this is bitterly disappointing to all of us.   

The good news is that the ownership team and the rest of the hard-working, loyal, and driven staff over here at your hometown Cavaliers have not betrayed you nor NEVER will betray you.  

There is so much more to tell you about the events of the recent past and our more than exciting future. Over the next several days and weeks, we will be communicating much of that to you.  

You simply don’t deserve this kind of cowardly betrayal.  

You have given so much and deserve so much more.   

In the meantime, I want to make one statement to you tonight:  

“I PERSONALLY GUARANTEE THAT THE CLEVELAND CAVALIERS WILL WIN AN NBA CHAMPIONSHIP BEFORE THE SELF-TITLED FORMER ‘KING’ WINS ONE”  

You can take it to the bank. 

If you thought we were motivated before tonight to bring the hardware to Cleveland, I can tell you that this shameful display of selfishness and betrayal by one of our very own has shifted our “motivation” to previously unknown and previously never experienced levels.  

Some people think they should go to heaven but NOT have to die to get there.  

Sorry, but that’s simply not how it works.  

This shocking act of disloyalty from our home grown “chosen one” sends the exact opposite lesson of what we would want our children to learn. And “who” we would want them to grow-up to become.   

But the good news is that this heartless and callous action can only serve as the antidote to the so-called “curse” on Cleveland, Ohio.  

The self-declared former “King” will be taking the “curse” with him down south. And until he does “right” by Cleveland and Ohio, James (and the town where he plays) will unfortunately own this dreaded spell and bad karma.   

Just watch.  

Sleep well, Cleveland.  

Tomorrow is a new and much brighter day….  

I PROMISE you that our energy, focus, capital, knowledge and experience will be directed at one thing and one thing only:  

DELIVERING YOU the championship you have long deserved and is long overdue …   

Dan Gilbert
Majority Owner
Cleveland Cavaliers
 

"Mommmm! Danny's being mean to me!"

If we have never witnessed a vain and self-important athlete make an elaborate show of where he decided to play, never before have we seen an owner react with such bile in a petulant, insulting and petty manner.  Strange days in David Stern’s Magic Kingdom and one wonders how he will react to Gilbert’s parting shots at his league’s best player. 

This falls under the category of extremely sour grapes on Gilbert’s part.   He bought the Cavs in 2005, inherited the best player in the league and installed two utter mediocrities, Mike Brown as coach and Danny Ferry as general manager.   Among Gilbert and Ferry’s accomplishments were to surround James with such “talent” as Bruno Sundov, Zendon Hamilton, Jiri Welsch and Smush Parker.   

Gilbert fired Brown and Ferry following this year’s playoff flop against the Celtics as sacrifices in a futile attempt to appease James, tried to woo Tom Izzo from Michigan State who balked when he couldn’t get assurances James would re-sign and is left now with an aging, salary capped-out shell of a team with a new coach, no stars and dim hope of even making the playoffs next year.    

Gilbert’s temper-tantrum was a classless ass-covering for his own failure to bring in even one complimentary superstar player in his prime to aid James in winning a championship.  A more mature approach would have been to express disappointment in James signing elsewhere and then to thank him for seven great years including two straight years with the best regular season record and an appearance in the 2007 NBA Finals.  

That would have been the mature thing to do, but Gilbert reacted like a spurned teenage girl trashing James as a hopeless loser, coward and quitter.   It makes you wonder why he didn’t trade or cut James years ago. Lindsay Lohan demonstrated more poise than Gilbert as the judge sentence her to 90 days in jail.  Gilbert bashing of LeGone was meant as a show of solidarity with discouraged Cavaliers fans, but it overestimates how much ill will they will have for James.  

They’re all disappointed, but most of them are sophisticated to know basketball is as much business as sport. They had seven years of good times with James and it was he, not Gilbert, who made basketball relevant in Cleveland again.   Nobody went to Quicken Loans Arena to watch Dan Gilbert own.  They sold out the joint to watch LeBron play and as much as it will hurt to see him wearing the colors of the Heat, many of them will do so because they love LeBron, not the guy who signed his paychecks for five years.    

Despite Gilbert’s blustery bravado, the Cavs are headed into a long, dark tunnel and apparently they’re going to go into the gloom cursing James all the way.  He had the best player in the world playing for him and he couldn’t win with him.  How does Gilbert convince season ticket holders the absurd suggestion the Cavs are a better team now without James? With Jamario Moon as their new starting small forward?    Anger may be a purifying emotion, but as bleak as the immediate future looks for the Cavs it won’t take them anywhere near the heights they achieved as part of the LeBron James Flying Circus.  

 LeGone now has something he never had before: enemies.   He just went from one of the most admired athletes in America to one of the most reviled.  Every great baller had a rival, an opposite number, the one guy who was guaranteed to get under his skin.  Michael Jordan had Isiah Thomas and his Bad Boy Pistons.  Magic had Bird.  Kobe had Shaq and the state of Colorado.  Now James has Gilbert. He’s also sure to be booed lustily on his next visits to New York, New Jersey and Chicago who were also deemed unworthy by King James.  

There was a joke making the rounds on Facebook before James made his announcement he was dust in the wind.    It went: Apple is releasing a special edition LeBron I-phone.   Problem is, it only vibrates because it doesn’t have a ring. All right, nobody said it was a funny joke.  The real fun starts next season when LeGone returns to Little Danny Gilbert’s House of Hate. 

Brothers gonna work it out.

 

A King In Search of a New Kingdom?

Will LeBron take a powder?

When the Cleveland Cavaliers crumbled to the Boston Celtics after losing to them 94-85 in the sixth game of the Eastern Conference semi-finals, they lost far more than a shot at the championship against the Orlando Magic.   They quite possibly lost the best player in the league in LeBron James and their claim to being a legitimate NBA franchise as well.

The Cavs looked like champions on paper but championships have to be won on the court. That’s where the problem started–and ended.   James played without passion in a horrific 32-point blowout loss in Game Five, and despite a triple-double in Game Six, he still seeming distracted and disinterested.

The King has no clothes.  Or a kingdom.  Certainly not a crown.

If James walks onto the court of Quicken Loans Arena next year wearing another team’s uniform, don’t boo him Cavs fans.  He gave you seven years of his life; the Cavs gave him Mike Brown, one of the most inept and unimaginative coaches in the NBA.  He gave Cleveland basketball respectability where it was once a bad joke and the only wining pro franchise in the city.  The Cavs never gave him a reliable second option to take some of the weight off of his shoulders.

Shaquille O’ Neal? A lock for the Hall of Fame, but he’s running on fumes and memories.  Antwan Jamison?  Inconsistent, doesn’t dominate at the four spot and is on the wrong side of 30.  Shooting guards Anthony Parker and Delonte West combined for ten points in Game Six.  Their jump shots come and go and against Boston they were mostly gone.  Point guard Mo Williams was totally outclassed by Rajon Rondo.  He needs to go knock on the door of the Celtics locker room and politely ask Mr. Rondo for his shorts and jock strap back because he got undressed.

The Cavs had the best record in the NBA during the regular season which just goes to prove how utterly meaningless the regular season is.   It’s not the team that has the best record that dominates in the playoffs.  It’s the team that dominates and the Cavaliers learned the hard way champions aren’t crowned in April.

The Bulls gave the Cavs a nastier fight than they were expecting in the first round and the Celtics exposed them as frauds who were never as loaded or talented as the sports media had hyped.   Too old, too slow, and not athletic enough, the Cavaliers fattened up during the season on the weak sisters of the league, but in a seven-game series they were once again totally dependent on James to carry them to victory.

James is saying all the right things about staying in Cleveland, but he’s going to explore his options and he’s got a LOT of options.  Even if he stays will the Cavs be any better?  They can’t sign any of the other big-name 2010 free agents to help James and he knows that.  The team only leased Shaq for one year and it didn’t pan out.  Zydrunas Ilgauskas is a free agent and he’s old too, so the Cavs are looking at Anderson Varejo as their starting center next season.  Not a happy prospect when the broad shoulders of Dwight Howard are blocking your path.

So fuhgeddaboutit, Cleveland.  You never owned James.  You were only renting him for seven years.  He had a great run, no denying that, but it’s time for him to take his ball and hit the road. There are at least 29 other NBA teams that would move heaven and earth to land King James. There are three that are most likely.

James could be running with The Bulls next season.

New York Knicks:  Why wouldn’t’ the greatest player in the world want to play in the greatest city in the world?   Because the Knicks are a terrible team.  Even James on Broadway isn’t going to change that anytime soon.   The Knicks could add another coveted free agent to compliment him, but if winning is the priority for James, the Knicks are a lot further away than the Cavs.  There’s no upside for James to go from a flawed team in Cleveland to a Knick team that’s a hot mess   Nike would love to build a gigantic billboard in Times Square with James rocking the Knicks colors, but it seems unlikely to happen.  Don’t tell the fans in NYC that.  They’re convinced he’s on the way.

Miami Heat: If anything could get Pat Riley out of the suites and back on the bench is the chance to coach  James to a championship.  The problem for Riles is he’s got his own superstar, Dwayne Wade, thinking about filling out a change-of-address card as a free agent.   Wade has said he’s not going to re-sign until he sees what the Heat do to improve the team.   Maybe the promise to go all-out to lure James from Cleveland snow to South Beach sand might convince Wade to stick around.   The problem here is despite the lack of a state income tax, bringing James to Miami and resigning Wade would give the Heat two good players and not much else on the roster.  And James would be the second-highest player to Wade.   There can only be one Alpha Male and James is a lead singer, but a back-up.

Chicago Bulls: No less than four NBA general managers have picked ‘Da Bulls as the most likely place for King James to rebuild his kingdom.    James knows many a superstar minus a championship was only a great point guard away from being fitted for a ring.  Given a choice between Williams back in C-land, Chris Duhon in New York and Mario Chalmers in Miami, the prospect of playing with a young stud on the verge of greatness like Derrick Rose has got to be an enticement.   There’s other young talent on the roster.  Plus, the Bulls are trying to come up with scenarios that could bring Wade, Joe Johnson or Chris Bosh to the Second City as well.  Some sportswriters have doubts James would want to go to a team where Michael Jordan ruled.  I disagree.  There’s already a statue of His Airness outside of Chicago Stadium.  Pair James with Rose and Bosh and Chicago instantly has its most exciting trio of players since the days of Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Horace Grant.   That’s when some sculptor will start figuring out how close to Jordan’s statue LeBron’s willi be.

James already announced to honor Jordan he would no longer wear number #23 and would be switching  to #6.   A better way to honor Jordan (and to further his goal of becoming the world’s most popular athlete, a task made easier by the fall from grace of Tiger Woods) would be to win his first NBA championship where Jordan won his last.

In six weeks when free agency opens James will reveal his plans and we can stop guessing.   I’m betting the Bulls shirt I bought recently turns out to be a smart investment.

Still the King, not yet a Champ.

“It’s hard for me to congratulate somebody after you just lose to them.  I’m a winner. It’s not being a poor sport or anything like that. If somebody beats you up, you’re not going to congratulate them. That doesn’t make sense to me. I’m a competitor. That’s what I do. It doesn’t make sense for me to go over and shake somebody’s hand.”

~ Lebron James the day after the Clevand Cavaliers were eliminated in the NBA playoffs by the Orlando Magic

Flex all you want, Lebron.  Even you cant carry 11 other guys forever.

Flex all you want, Lebron. Even you can't carry 11 other guys forever.

  

It’s been a thrill to watch Lebron James do things on a basketball court that most of us couldn’t even in our dreams.   The last second three-pointer he sunk in Game Three was the greatest play  since since Michael Jordan knocked down the last shot in his last game in a Chicago Bulls uniform to win the NBA championship.

It’s too bad he ended his final game of the season looking like a sore loser.

James wears the same number as Jordan and that’s no accident.  He craves both the championship rings of Jordan and his status as the world’s most successful athlete.   Despite his Player of the Year status and carrying the Cavaliers to their best record ever, even King James can’t win playing 1-on-5 over a seven game series.   He got little to no help from his teammates as they had no answer to awesome dominance of Dwight Howard doin’ work inside and the outside shooting of Hedo Turkoglu, Rashard Lewis and Courtney Lee.  

We can’t put it all on him,” Cavs forward Joe Smith said. “He needs some help.”

Jerry West, a Hall of Famer, whose outline graces the NBA’s logo said James is the best player in the league, but without him the Cavaliers would probably be a lottery team.   Looking at their roster it’s hard to argue with West.

Even a king needs a few knights.   Lebron will have to hang the “Help Wanted” sign outside of the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland if he ever hopes to hoist a championship trophy. 

We know you have heart Lebron, but wheres your class?

We know you have heart Lebron, but where's your class?

First thing King James might want to do is to learn a little bit about sportsmanship.  

Lebron wanted it all this year.  You could just see it in the way he would almost will his team to wins in Games #3 and 5.   It wasn’t enough and from the way the Magic exposed the deficiencies of the Cavaliers, it probably wouldn’t have been any better going up against Kobe and the Lakers. 

He walked off the floor in Orlando without offering any handshakes or congratulations to Howard and the Magic.   James refused to speak to the media, dressing quickly and boarding the team bus.   It was reminiscent of the same classless act Isiah Thomas pulled in 1991 when he led eight of his Detroit Pistons teammates off the court without congratulating Jordan’s Bulls that had just dethroned them.  

The swagger of the Cavs developed during the regular season was long gone.  In it’s place will come a long summer hoping they can sign James to a contract extension, but knowing he may not as he waits to see if General Manager Danny Ferry brings in some reinforcements via trade or free agency.

We can cut James some slack becaue after carrying 11 other guys for an average of 44 minutes during six grueling games against the Magic, he was probably tired and more than a little royally pissed off. 

In college basketball when the game is over both teams line up and high-five each other.  I don’t know if they are mandated to do so or the coaches think it’s just a good idea.   Either way, it’s a nice way to demonstrate sportsmanship.

But Lebron walked straight out of high school into the pros.  He bypassed the college game and started earning millions while most of his peers were eating out of the vending machine in the dorms.    Along with dorm food he missed out on those little life lessons in losing gracefully.

Humility is not something Lebron has found often he’s had to swallow.  Neither is failure, but after being swept out of the Finals by the ancient Spurs in 2007,  he failed to even get there this year.  So much for a 66-16 season and easy sweeps over the Pistons and Hawks.   The Magic has enjoyed success over the Cavs beating them three out of four times during the season and exerting total domination during over the six-game series.

Lebron will get his championship eventually.  Perhaps in a Cavaliers uniform and perhaps not.   When the time does come that he is hoisting the Lawrence O’Brien trophy over his head, he will truly be the winner he says he already is.  Maybe by then he will have learned how to accept his defeats a bit more gracefully. 

David Sterns wet dream is on hold for another year.

David Stern's wet dream is on hold for another year.