LeBron James is no longer a free agent in the NBA, and he won’t be again for five years. During his one-hour special on ESPN, he officially announced he plans to play for the Miami Heat next season. He will be joining fellow all-stars and Team USA players, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh – who committed earlier this week.
James’ decision to leave Cleveland is enormous news, and not just because he is leaving his home town. He showed the ultimate sacrifice. For all those people that call James selfish- he gave up money for a chance at a championship ring. Never in professional sports have I seen three players actually mean its about winning and not money. All three players are taking less money than they could have gotten in order to play together and win multiple championships. James is giving up his legacy for a ring, instead of being “the man,” he is willing to be a team in order to bring home the hardware. It’s truly impressive.
Now the trick is actually winning the championships. The Miami Heat have 5 4 players on their roster (they just traded Michael Beasley to Minnesota for a future draft pick), and three 2nd round draft picks they may or may not sign. That leaves a hole of eight players with a very thin budget remaining. I do think that some players may be willing to take a little less money to play with the trio of James-Wade-Bosh, but Pat Riley is going to have to make some smart choices.
There is also the question if there is enough stats to go around. All three players, by taking less money to play together, have to accept the fact that they will all not be the same players that they were last season. Obviously, they are all saying the right things now, but we will have to see how it plays out. In my opinion, I think they will be able to play together. You don’t take less money just to be selfish on the court. They are committed to this.
This is a similar situation to the Boston Celtics of the 2007-08 season, when Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett joined Paul Pierce. The difference is that Garnett was a dominant post-player, Allen a dominant shooter and Pierce a dominant play-maker. The Heat have two dominant play-makers (Wade and James) and a scoring forward. The Heat’s big three is not as diversified, but the Heat now have two of the top five players in the league. Is that enough?
Cleveland fans, as you can imagine, are not happy at all. Cavs fans were filmed burning James jerseys in the street. I have to say this is pathetic and Cavs fans should be ashamed of themselves. LeBron was the league MVP in the past two seasons and the Cavs have had the best record in the NBA for the past two seasons. I understand that he failed to deliver the ring, but when the talent level is better in the playoffs, you need another piece. James was the Cavs, and that is why they are mad- they are looking at an inevitable 25 win drop next season.
Cavs fans should blame the management. The Cavs management has been pretty pathetic in attempting to surround James with some talent. I think the Cavs owner, Dan Gilbert, is hoping to avoid being blamed, as evident by the open letter he wrote to all Cleveland fans, and it was not pretty. Here is a part of it:
“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.
Honestly, this letter is an embarrassment. LeBron James gave seven great years to the Cavaliers. Losing a free agent is part of the game, get used to it. And he better find some players if he wants to back-up his guarantee.
Odds that Cavs win title before James: 250 to 1. Take that to the bank.
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