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He did what all of Ohio had themselves denying he could ever do on national television. The King turned his back on his throne in Cleveland, and he might as well have dropped a bomb on the heart of the city. He just placed himself among the likes of Art Modell. Modell being the most hated man in Cleveland sports history, and the man who moved the Brownies to Baltimore after promising the city he would never even think about it. Lebron will be known as a villain in Ohio for the rest of our lifetimes, but if it was me, I’m on my way to Florida. Sorry.

I want to start by saying I think the way in which LeBron went about this was egotistical and unnecessary. With that said, I don’t think it to be nearly as vicious or absurd as the rest of my state. We live in a different age. One that is obsessed with superstars. Where we know their every move and thought just by checking up on their twitter account. If you weren’t interested in the signing of LeBron James then you need to check your pulse. This is one of the biggest sports story’s in ages. It is a story we have been following for the past two years, and it warranted some attention when decision time finally came.

ESPN actually has signing shows for high school kids who have proved absolutely nothing on their way to college. You know the ones where they have hats lined up on a table in front of them and they put one on for the school they have picked. So is it so outrageous that the most sought after free agent in the history of sports would get his own announcement show. The classy way to do this would have been to simply accompany Bosh and Wade on ESPN for a 3 minute announcement/interview, but would people really have felt any different had James taken that route. The uproar in Cleveland would have still been comparable to a nuclear explosion. You take the chosen one from his deeply rooted homeland and there is no way around mass hysteria.

People forget that Kobe had a similar situation in 2004… Read the rest of this entry »

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I have to respectfully disagree with my fellow cohort by saying the King is heading to the Magic City, Miami. The three stars will align tonight at approximately nine o’clock, and as the bell sounds LeBron will throw a knock out blow into the heart of his homeland. Without rings LBJ is merely a great player who will be known for never getting it done in the playoffs rather than an immortal legend. Now in my personal opinion James has his best opportunity for championships in Chicago with a surrounding cast already in place, but I think he is seeing stars and relishing in the idea of playing with his buddies from Team USA.

A lot of people will see this move as a move of cowardice and submission… Read the rest of this entry »

Tomorrow night at 9 PM, Lebron James is airing an hour long special detailing where he will play basketball for the next couple of years. James’s managing team even made a deal with ESPN to sell advertisements with the proceeds going to charity. A lot has been said literally for years about the NBA’s 2010 free agent draft class, with teams like the Knicks purposefully ridding their roster of any talent to have enough salary cap space to sign multiple max deals with free agents. The Miami Heat prior to today’s announcement that Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade will play in South Florida next year, had only two players under contract. If Lebron were to join the duo, then the first, fourth, and fifth picks in the 2003 NBA draft would belong to the franchise. The buildup has been unlike anything seen in any sport that has free agency and the climax tomorrow night will certainly be a spectacle. The only problem is that Lebron is going nowhere for 3 reasons.

Comfort: Lebron’s early life is well-documented. His biological father, Anthony McClelland, was an ex-con uninterested in being a parent. His mother had a sordid relationship with Eddie Jackson, who went to jail several times for cocaine trafficking and fraud. Gloria James was unable to hold down a steady job, though she did an excellent job shielding Lebron from both crime and poverty. Lebron virtually dropped out of school in fourth grade and probably would not be what he was today if not for his Pee-Wee football coach taking him into his household and instilling discipline.

Right Now, He is Cleveland Sports

The actions of everyone around him have made Northeast Ohio a very comfortable place to grow up. In his twitter account which opened yesterday he calls himself the King of Akron. This is in sharp contrast to Chris Bosh, who months ago while still under contract to Toronto changed his location from Toronto to “Everywhere”. Lebron regularly attends his high school’s football games. He is a regular at the very same McDonalds that he frequented throughout his high school years.

Another angle is the comfort of his friends and family, which remains a central part of Lebron’s decision making process. Lebron’s closet advisor, Maverick Carter, made sure that teams knew that William Wesley (known as Worldwide Wes) was not a part of the decision making process. Wesley is notoriously known as being one of the most powerful men in basketball, despite not having an official role. Wesley was also shopping Lebron to any team that was not Cleveland. Check out his story here. The move signified that Lebron’s friends desperately want to stay in Cleveland, where they have official roles with the Cavs. They also enjoy perks that the team provides such as free airfare. The Cleveland Media also grants James tremendous privacy in his personal life that he simply would not get in Chicago, New York, or Miami. Don’t underestimate that factor.

Ultimately, though the biggest beneficiary of staying in Cleveland with regards to comfort is Lebron himself. Whether it is fair or not, if Lebron were to leave he would NEVER be able to comfortably live in Akron the rest of his life. He would be a King without subjects. He would be neither feared nor loved, but despised. Instantly, Lebron would enter Cleveland’s Pantheon of Sports Tragedies; jockeying for pole position with Art Modell. The national media has almost criminally failed to understand the magnitude of the comfort factor in his decision making process. Lebron’s personal life would rapidly become unstable if he were to leave, as he would almost certainly have to relocate his family from his home.

Ego: Lebron has the stated goal of becoming the best basketball player ever. He would need to put together a resume that could compete with Michael Jordan’s six NBA Championship Titles (with six Finals MVP awards), five-time NBA Player of the Year, and ten-time All-NBA First Team (nine-time NBA All-Defensive Team). Jordan also won gold for his country twice. Some may argue that Kobe Bryant will eventually enter that discussion, though I disagree. Kobe may have five rings so far, with the ability to eclipse Jordan’s six, but he has only been the Finals MVP for two of those rings.

James, simply put, would not be able to beat Jordan if he was to team up with Wade and Bosh in Miami. It is very possible that the trio would be able to secure multiple championship rings, but in Miami Dwayne Wade is the star. Wade already has an NBA championship, along with a finals MVP. There is no guarantee that James would be considered to be the Man as Jordan was during his tenure in Chicago. Rather, fans will view it in a similar vein to the recent run of the Celtics— a three-headed monster.

He Holds the Ball and the Basketball World in His Hands

Another lofty goal of James’s is to become a billionaire. The New York Knicks have a ton of graphs that would say otherwise, but paradoxically if Lebron were to leave small-market Cleveland he would lose brand value. The Jordan brand still remains a cash cow, in part because Jordan stayed in Chicago for his entire career (let’s just forget about the Wizards experiment). The Bulls can only count a divisional title (1975) as any sort of success outside of the Jordan era. Simply put, Jordan is the Chicago Bulls. If Lebron were to leave Cleveland he would lose any chance to make his brand anywhere on par with an NBA team.

Both points of course have their risks. Cleveland has famously come short the past two years, despite having the league’s best record. One could make an argument that regardless of whom the Heat gets to fill out the roster, that they would be better than the Cavs. Lebron is changing his number from 23 to 6 and has lobbied the NBA to retire the number 23 in honor of Michael Jordan. No doubt he hopes to one day have 6 retired for being the best player of all time.  From both standpoints (financial and personal legacy), Lebron’s floor is lower if he stays in Cleveland, but the ceiling remains much higher as well. Ego wins.

Loyalty: This final reason draws from his comfort level with Northeast Ohio. Lebron learned very early on that life can be cruel and that trust is not something to be given. Both Northeast Ohio and the Cavalier organization have given him unparalleled loyalty that he would not get anywhere else. Go to Miami and he would find himself behind Dwayne Wade from both the fans and the management. In Chicago and New York he would be loved but only if he succeeds. Both of those cities could also attract big stars, even if their teams were terrible. Cleveland, as Trevor Ariza showed last summer and Chris Bosh did today, cannot. As a result, the organization knows how important it is to maintain trust with Lebron.

Cleveland's Messiah

Every single move that Dan Gilbert has made since becoming owner has been geared to giving Cleveland fans a championship caliber product. Gilbert has made the Cavaliers have one of the league’s highest payrolls in the past several years. Upon becoming the owner, he completely renovated Gund Arena re-branding it the Q. He built state of the art practice facilities that can compete with any other team in the league. Recently he pursued Tom Izzo, offering to double his contract to six million dollars a year, which would have made him one of the league’s highest paid coaches. When Izzo decided to remain in East Lansing, Gilbert pursued Byron Scott. Scott is a candidate that brings everything to the table Lebron is rumored to want in a coach. Notably, Byron Scott has won championships as a player (3) and has success coaching in the league (2007-08 Coach of the Year).

Lebron is going to stay a Cavalier tomorrow night. Lebron has drawn this process out in part because of many of the reasons highlighted above. When Lebron was in high school he enjoyed playing with the media. When all of the major shoe companies were trying to get him to sign a deal, he toyed with them. He would wear Adidas gear to Nike sponsored basketball camps and vice versa. I am very confident that when it comes down to it— Lebron’s comfort, ego, and sense of loyalty will compel him to stay a Cavalier. If I am wrong feel free to laugh at me, but Lebron will be the one who really loses.

James

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