So prepare thyself for a rant...
Reason #1: He quit. It's one thing to lose, but it's an entirely different thing to fold. I have searched my soul and read countless articles on the topic, but I have yet to hear a better explanation of LeBron's tepid, disinterested 3-14 shooting performance in his final home game as a Cavalier.
When I was watching the series, I at first favored the explanation that his elbow was still bothering him from a late-season injury. After all, we all "witnessed" his famous left-handed free throw attempt in Game 5 of the Cavs-Bulls series:
But how do we reconcile this apparently debilitating injury with LeBron's explosive performances in games 1 and 3 of that same series? It's hard to imagine that LeBron, if seriously injured, was able to drop 35 and 38 points respectively on the Celtics earlier in the series, and then barely muster the energy for 15 points on 14 shots in 5th, pivotal game.
Furthermore, I completely reject the "Delonte West fucked his mom" explanation. First, consider the source. Some yammering yahoo from the outskirts of the interwebs generated this theory to explain what we were all "witnessing" (LeBron quitting), and Cleveland fans ate it up. After all, at the time LeBron was still our guy, and "The Decision" wouldn't come for another month. There was no way LeBron would just quit on the Cavs, right? Right?! He cared too much for the team and the fans!
Reason #2: He lied.
“I got a goal, and it’s a huge goal, and that’s to bring an NBA championship here to Cleveland. And I won’t stop until I get it.” - LeBron JamesO rly?
Now before you jump down my throat, let me inform you that LeBron didn't say this during his rookie season, or right after he signed an extension with the Cavs. He said it in an interview with NBA TV on March 31, 2010, approximately 3.5 months before "The Decision."
If you know you're leaving, and I think by this point it's fairly clear that he knew, you shouldn't be shoving this crap down people's throats. As inspiring as it was to hear at the time, it makes my blood boil to read that comment today, knowing now that he already knew he was leaving and that he would essentially quit on the court in the playoffs a couple of months later.
Reason #3: He damaged the franchise badly and without cause. Multiple elements to the way LeBron conducted himself seriously damaged the competitiveness of the Cavaliers in the short term.
In the first place, LeBron's refusal to sign a six-year contract before the 2007 season handcuffed the team. The Cavaliers were unable to attract quality free agents due to their (correct) apprehension about LeBron's future intentions. They didn't want to be in Cleveland if LeBron was going to jet. The circumstances of his short contract also forced a "win now" mentality on the team's front office that caused them to take on a lot of bad contracts in order to try to secure a ring for LeBron and, in so doing, entice him to return.
So you have a team loaded up with aging, overpaid role players, many of whom LeBron requested directly.
Additionally, LeBron's decision to act like a tease and lead the team to think he might re-sign even up to and DURING "The Decision" (Gilbert received a call from one of LeBron's friends during the broadcast), he further disrupted the team's ability to go out and acquire another free agent to remain competitive. LeBron, by design, was essentially the last big name free agent on the market, and by waiting him out, the Cavs got fucked.
|We should have seen it coming. He sure did.|
But who wouldn't wait out someone with the talent of LeBron if you thought he might come back? And if he thought, even for a second, that he actually might come back, than this teasing might be forgivable. Now that we know that "the Heatles" was a plan long in the making, it makes it gob-smackingly cruel.
This isn't even to mention all the shit I have to hear every day about how the Cavs didn't do enough. How the Cavs totally sucked, that LeBron didn't have the talent around him, and that he essentially had to do it "by himself," all of which is clearly bullshit to those of us that watched his teams the last two years.
The same experts that now say the Cavs were "the LeBrons" are the same ones who picked the Cavaliers to win the Finals in 2010 because of their roster flexibility and depth. So that LeBron has managed to reconstruct the narrative to make the Cavs franchise the villain is completely disgusting.
Finally, LeBron seriously damaged the Cavaliers future prospects of attracting big name free agents. If the hometown sensation who still lives in the area won't sign for the maximum amount of money after back-to-back seasons with the best record in the NBA, then who ever will?
If getting someone to sign with the Cavaliers was already a difficult task, he made it all the more difficult. The manner in which he dumped the town and the team implied that neither of them is worthy of any respect. Weak.
Reason #4: He walked away from his legacy. On that note, I'm sure many of you are aware that Cleveland is statistically the most downtrodden city in the history of professional sports. Our failures are many and epic.
So the story of a home-grown superstar the likes of which the NBA has never seen right in our backyard was amazing. More amazing was the luck we had in drafting him.
So there you have it, written like a movie script: Hometown boy comes from nowhere to rescue most cursed city in all of sports. When we saw that he had tattooed "loyalty" on his body, we thought it was a match made in heaven. A story for the ages.
|The back-to-back league MVP abdicates the throne. For DWade.|
Reason #5: You don't kick a man when he's down. oSo now let me talk about "The Decision" for a moment.
Losing the best player in the NBA was going to suck no matter how it happened, but the complete and utter lack of respect he showed for Cleveland fans during his festival of arrogance was one of the most ridiculous displays of hubris I have ever "witnessed" in my entire life.
|This was, of course, followed by copious amounts|
of merchandise burning.
What the fuck? Seriously, what the fuck? Not only did he leave us, he kicked us in the nuts on the way out the door.
And this isn't even to mention that he acted with complete insensitivity to the tragic history that is Cleveland professional sports. In fact, he seemed to tip his hat to it!
Bringing us to the name of the event: "The Decision." How can I not view that as an intentional slight? He may never have been much of a Cleveland fan, but he sure as shit new about "The Fumble," "The Drive," "The Shot," and "The Collapse." To name the event after other Cleveland sports failures is a miserable, cruel thing to do, and I have almost no doubt in my mind he did it on purpose. At least ONE person had to have been like, "Um, LeBron..."
|LeBron secures his place in Cleveland history.|
Reason #6: He brought down derision and spite on a city that's already waist-deep in derision and spite. Not enough can be said about this.
Hate my team all you want, but shut the fuck up about my home state and my hometown. If LeBron truly loved Ohio or Cleveland or even Akron, he should've considered what people would say about our home before dragging us through the mud in front of the entire nation on national TV.
I am so, so sick of hearing how LeBron shouldn't want to live in a city like Cleveland or a state like Ohio. About how we don't "deserve" him. I have no doubt that LeBron actually loves and respects Ohio, but you wouldn't know it from listening to his new "fans."
|While this parody is hilarious, LeBron's "Decision" has given rise|
to the notion that this is all Cleveland has to offer.
Reason #7: He tried to unbalance the league, and in so doing disrespected the sport. Apart from the manner in which he left and the decision to leave is where he went: the Heat with Wade and Chris Bosh.
This is something I find more disappointing than outrageous. I thought LeBron was a competitor. I thought he wanted to win and prove himself. What I did not think was that LeBron was the type of guy to try to unbalance the league in order to make his challenge less difficult.
|There's a reason this never happened.|
"In all honesty, I was trying to beat those guys."
- Michael Jordan, competitor
And what better contrast could we have than this match-up between the Heat and the Mavericks in the Finals?
On the one side you have the Heat, who currently have only three players remaining from last year's roster (Wade, Udonis Haslem, and Mario Chalmers). The team was slapped together with some popsicle sticks and scotch tape in hopes of winning a championship immediately.
No one can deny this. In fact, it was what lured LeBron to Miami. Apparently it was too hard in Cleveland, so teaming up with his friends on a super-squad would allow him to dance right off the stage from his laser show and right onto the court for his ring ceremony.
And how is that good for the sport? Put aside ratings for a second and just consider how obnoxious this really is. It's a strategy that says building through the draft and trades, chemistry, coaching, and patience are all pointless. All that's needed is to buy up a bunch of superstars and shove them on the same team.
I've seen this approach before. In Miami in fact. 1997 Marlins, anyone?
And then on the other side you have Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd, both aging yet playing with their original team (though Kidd certainly traveled around some). You have a classic coach. You have an owner that's been slowly building for five years since their last appearance in the Finals. And you have have the quiet dignity of a veteran core who refuses to celebrate until they actually win it all.
And THAT is what LeBron and the Miami Heat are standing against. Are suggesting is unimportant. And it's incredibly obnoxious.
Reason #8: LeBron's ongoing arrogance. Speaking of obnoxious, wow did LeBron run his mouth a lot this past year. The crazy train pulled out of the station after his infamous Game 5 "performance," after which LeBron explained,
"I spoil a lot of people with my play. When you have a bad game here or there, you've had three bad games in a seven-year career, then it's easy to point that out."Of course, those of us who watched him quit on the floor in Game 5 and then quit the Cavs on national television after promising to win a ring in Cleveland only three months earlier did not feel particularly "spoiled."
If only he'd stopped there. But the Chosen One-Third wasn't done. Oh, no. Equipped with a new Twitter account, a renewed sense of self-worth, and a brand new number, LeBron's mouth would continue to run all the way into the following year's playoffs.
Three particular incidents spring to mind, though this is just a sampling:
First, LeBron mocked the Cavaliers and their misery on Twitter following their blowout loss to the Lakers at home, citing "karma" (rather than his own assholishness) as the reason Cleveland was epically failing. (For those of you who don't know, the Cavaliers tied an all-time professional sports record with 26 consecutive losses.)
Imagine if you could take Kevin Love off Minnesota and add him to another team and you shrink the [league]. Looking at some of the teams that aren't that great, you take Brook Lopez or you take Devin Harris off these teams that aren't that good right now and you add him to a team that could be really good. Not saying let's take New Jersey and let's take Minnesota out of the league. But hey, you guys are not stupid, I'm not stupid, it would be great for the league.What. The. Fuck? Just because LeBron wants to play with his buddies doesn't mean the entire rest of the league should follow suit, and that the only teams in the NBA should be on the East and West coasts.
- LeBron James on December 24, 2010
Finally, there's LeBron's weepy celebration/half-hearted apology following the Heat's defeat of the Celtics this year. Apparently LeBron thought that getting to the third round of the playoffs was something he could never have accomplished in Cleveland (he did it three times), and so after finally reaching this monumental benchmark, he "apologized" to Cleveland fans, essentially saying, "See, this justifies everything I did."
How do I figure? Because later that same night, LeBron accused the Cleveland Cavaliers of "dying in the moment" in the playoffs:
“I understand what this league is all about. I wanted to team up with some guys that would never die down in the moment. The opportunity presented itself with this great organization and we made it happen.” - LeBron James on May 26, 2011Despite the fact that we all watched his 3-14 Game 5 performance, LeBron thought it apt to blame his failure/surrender on everyone but himself.
Reason #9: It never ends. As much as I hear about how I need to "get over it," LeBron's "Decision" dominates all coverage of the NBA. It's all anyone talks about. In fact, it was all Jeff Van Gundy wanted to talk about during the first half of Game 1 of the NBA Finals.
It would be a helluva lot easier for me to get over it if I didn't have to constantly listen to people apologize for this asshole and tell me how his utterly cold and unnecessary embarrassment of my home is actually not that bad.
It was that bad. He did everything short of taking a dump at center court at the Q on his way out the door, and he did it with a smile. Oh, and then he celebrated it with a laser show before the season even began.
And now I have to hear about it. All the time. From everyone. And usually it's not even about LeBron, but about Cleveland, Ohio, and the Cavaliers. "He was totally right because now he's in the Finals and the Cleveland Cavaliers are a laughingstock. Thank God LeBron got away when he did."
Ugh. Why wouldn't it still get under my skin? Especially when LeBron could win a ring by the end of next week?
So of course I'm not "over it." It's still unfolding before me every day (brought to you by ESPN).
Reason #10: Shit behavior shouldn't be rewarded. Yeah. I need to take a chill pill. But what I don't need to do is root for this guy.
Cleveland gave him the best team they could, improving every year for seven years. The fans poured their hearts out for him for 13 years. Excused even his most unpalatable behaviors.
And our reward? Being reminded of our misery and our shortcomings every single time he's on the court. Not just because he's gone, but because people want to talk about how he was right to leave. To make it OK. To sanitize the story until its something it's not: the story of a champion who did everything he could to win.
Screw that. LeBron is an arrogant prick who exerted completely unnecessary and unwarranted pain on the world's most tortured fanbase for no other reason than this: because he could.
He didn't have to do it the way he did, and he shouldn't be rewarded for it. He's trying to shortcut his way to a championship, and to do it he's decided to piss on everything and everyone that got him to where he is today.
Read: The guy is a serious tool with no class that's made a mockery of his own fucking heritage.
So why should we cheer on a guy like that? And why, if he wins, is any of his cold, callous, self-centered behavior justified? If I step on everyone I know to make a ton of money, does my pile of cash mean that I was right all along?
Personally, I was never a fan of Ayn Rand. And that goes a long way to explaining why LeBron winning a ring will do NOTHING to justify his actions in my mind.
So yes. I'm mad and bitter and a bit irrational about it. But that's just the way it is. It's the way it will always be. It's how I choose to react to someone who doesn't respect me: with reciprocal disrespect. Call it my "Decision."