What Does LeBron James' Decision Mean to the NBA?

| by Dwight Jaynes

So many reactions to so many things:

– Jim Gray turned himself into a punchline. Once a hotshot reporter, he just about permanently erased that memory with his ridiculous “interview” with James. “Do you still bite your fingernails?” ranks as THE classic question to ask someone before you get to the money question. I mean, would any real journalist ask him anything but “Where are you going and why?” But Gray sold his soul to get that spot so he did what they asked — stall it out for maximum drama. Hope they paid you plenty, Jim, because that thing cost you plenty.

– Surreal. That whole thing. Really, the atmosphere, the location, LeBron’s demeanor. All of it. Never seen anything quite like it.

– James did nothing, really, that would normally create much controversy. He went where the talent was — proving winning is more important to him than money, which is always what we say we want from our star athletes. But LeBron couldn’t sell it. He didn’t pull it off.

– If you don’t feel sorry for the sports fans of Cleveland you don’t have a heart. They already had “The Drive” and “The Fumble” and “The Shot.” Now they have “The Decision.” None of those events bring anything but pain. I believe there’s just something wrong with the whole thing. It’s almost like the natural extension of the AAU mentality. You know, let’s just bring in a bunch of players from all over the state, or the country, and try to create a super team. And the hell with all the guys you grew up with, or the guys in your neighborhood.

– Man, Cleveland owner Dan Gilbert. I don’t even know where to start. What a shame. I totally understand his frustration. And yes, thanks for finally saying it, Dan — LeBron quit on you and your team in the playoffs. But that said, why the hell where you trying to give $130 million to a guy who quit on you. You have to, if you’re David Stern, levy a heavy fine against the guy.

– LeBron James, I believe, is a guy devoid of any personal charisma, charm or personality. His personal “team” should avoid putting him into situations (like just about any one-on-one interview) that reflects this. Man, he’s cold. And man, that phrase, “I’m going to take my talents to South Beach…” sounded so wrong. No mention of Cleveland. No apology and hey — South Beach is where you’ll play AFTER the games. You’re taking your talents to the MIAMI HEAT — not South Beach.

– Miami, whether it likes it or not, will become the immediate favorite to win the East. And it might win five or six titles in a row, if everyone stays healthy. I don’t like that. And I don’t think this thing was good for the NBA. At all. David Stern must hate it. Yeah, the Heat will get great TV ratings. But long term, it sends negative messages to most teams in the league and their fans. You’d hate to see something like this become a fad — with the league’s best players clustered in a few select locales. It just won’t work for a league. Unless it’s a four-team league. Which maybe is what the league has always been, when you think about it.

– Erik Spoelstra is good enough to coach these guys. But it isn’t going to be easy because Pat Riley’s door is just upstairs. And if things don’t go perfectly, one of the Three Stooges on that team is going to knock on Riley’s door to complain. And with the precedent already set there of Riley heading back to the sidelines to coach, it’s going to be tough for Spoelstra.

– Man, Pat Riley. Guy’s special. Amazing what he did. And don’t think he doesn’t know how to fill out the rest of the roster.

– I think LeBron, deep down, is more comfortable as the No. 2 guy on a team than as the lead dog. He’ll defer to Wade, although not to the point of being obvious about it.

– Man, suddenly the Heat are the Yankees of basketball. You’ll love them or hate them. Villains all. I can’t say I will enjoy watching them win — but I better get used to it. And man, they’re going to be on national TV over and over and over and over.

– For hardcore long-term sports fans, this thing feels real bad. The guy just didn’t leave his team, he left his home. I know, who could blame him — it’s Cleveland, right? But it doesn’t feel good. LeBron showed little remorse and no real understanding of what he was doing to that area.

– Minnesota swooped in and stole Michael Beasley late last night. This is a guy who has a world of talent but looks flaky as all get out. But man, if you can get him for virtually free, you just have to take him. A great move if you have the cap space. And by the way, that was the sort of lopsided trade Portland could have done last year at the trade deadline with RLEC. Missed opportunity.

– Glad it’s over. Aren’t you?

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