LeBron "King" James made his decision last night, stating that he was going to the Miami Heat, leaving his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers.
For the first time in recent memory, a player had taken over a sport. James made his own rules, changed the way players were recruited and in the end, played the card that was the most disappointing. I don't say that as a New York fan, I don't say that as a Cleveland sympathizer-although my heart goes out to the entire city, you all deserve better -- I say that as a sports fan.
For the man who was on his way to becoming the greatest player to ever play the game, his trophy case was filled with more trophies, awards and accomplishments than one could count. But what he is missing is the biggest component when it comes to an elite players resume, a ring. Well, maybe not just a ring, the ability to lead a team to a ring.
When the question was asked live as to which team he was going to play for, LeBron took a pause. In those few seconds I prayed that he would go anywhere but Miami. The difference between Chicago, Cleveland, New York, New Jersey and LA and Miami is staggering.
With any other team LeBron would still be "King James." He would be the top dog on whichever team he chose. All the pressure, all the expectations, all the wants, desires and dreams come and go with LeBron. Whether it was Cleveland or New York, he would have been the man at the helm. If you win in a situation like that, it's different, it's better, it would be his. Many critics said that he would never rise to that point. That he wasn't that type of player. That he would never reach the upper echelon of greatness.
He had an opportunity to rise above all that, and prove to the NBA that he was one of the best, that he deserved the praise, that he was willing to risk it all on his own talents, on his own team. Instead, he put his tail between his legs and took the easy way out.
It is not LeBron James and the Miami Heat, as it was with the Cavaliers. LeBron is no longer the King, he is a lieutenant of the highest order, but that is all he will ever be, no matter how many rings are on his fingers when he hangs up the laces.
LeBron had an opportunity to be the best. One of a kind great, the type of player that looks at the hard road and takes it because he believes in himself. If anything, this decision says more about James' confidence in himself than it does about his desire to win. Of course winning was a huge factor in his decision, but it proved that he didn't think he could do it as the face of the franchise. Instead he went to another man's team, as a complimentary piece to a great team, nothing more.
He had an opportunity to stay in Cleveland. He had the opportunity to win with the team that has loved, nurtured and cared for him since his first game as an NBA player. Instead he turned his back on his own home and in the end may have permanently crippled the franchise.
Now I am not exactly one to wield the hammer of justice on that last point, since I wanted him to come to New York. But for anyone who thinks that he actually feels for Cleveland, for anyone who thinks that he gives a damn about his hometown, he doesn't. There were many things he could have done differently in order to ensure that he won in Cleveland. He could have recruited for Cleveland at the start of free agency, and I'm sure players would have come calling.
But he didn't. Instead he dragged his city through the mud, and eventually went on television (on the most anticipated show in recent memory) and stabbed them in the back in one of the most classless displays I have ever seen.
Look at Kobe Bryant or Kevin Durant's recent contract extensions, which all happened under the radar while LeBron turned this free agency into a circus. Look at how they handled "the business," how they dealt with the expectations, how they reacted when the mess hit the fan. The pressure of being the face of the franchise isn't for everyone, and it obviously isn't for LeBron.
LeBron had an opportunity to prove that he was "The Chosen One." He had an opportunity to be a man, and instead he proved that he was nothing more than a child. An incredibly gifted child, but a child nonetheless.
In the end, he was dethroned ... by himself. By his own fear, by his own doubt. Heroes defeat that fear. "Chosen Ones" harness that doubt. Gods overcome it.
LeBron is none of those things (thanks to himself) and he never will be.