CLEVELAND - LeBron James should walk away from what has happened over the last 11 months and realize the “yes men" around him are not helping him. They are hurting him.
The original “yes men” were the Cleveland Cavaliers and his close friends. I think everybody but Paul Silas, Danny Ferry and any of his teammates who didn’t bow down to him were full-time members of the club. If they said, “no,” they ended up on the first train out of town.
It’s the “yes men” who convinced James to play the Cavs like a fiddle each year. After he signed his last contract, he never made a long-term commitment to the franchise. It’s a card he played right down to the wire, letting owner Dan Gilbert know at the last minute that he was off to Miami. You may see that as ungrateful. I see that as smart business. He ripped apart the franchise he built in a few moments. But, that was his last good business move.
The backlash nationally happened because James chose Miami. The “yes men” told him it was the right thing to do. Plain and simple, it was a bad move. Going to Chicago or New York would have squashed any sympathy folks had for Cleveland. Miami is such a weak sports town, Heat fans couldn’t get out of the arena fast enough when it was all coming to an end in game six. Mark Cuban said it best about Heat fans. Knowing the language he used, I will leave it at that. But as far as fan support, it was a bad move.
The “yes men” could have seen that LeBron's decision would unite fans in Cleveland, New York and Chicago. Cavs fans even cheered for the Bulls in the playoffs, ignoring that Carlos Boozer duped the franchise and Michael Jordan destroyed the hopes of the city time and time again.
The "yes men” let James tell Cavs fans he spoiled them. Then nobody told James he might want to say goodbye to many of the folks who took care of him and his every need for seven years. He slipped out of town with his “yes men.”
Sure, he had every right to leave, but I guess for the fans who looked at the “Witness” mural like it was the “Wailing Wall,” they expected at least a “thank you.” Maybe James should have asked Zydrunas Illgauskas how to leave a team.
It’s all bad marketing for James and a huge score for the NBA. The NBA walked away a huge winner here. The ratings were up, attendance up and a storyline at every turn.
Remember when James was not public enemy number one? The starting intros for the Cavs looked like a Paula Abdul video. Rather than hearing names booming and music, it was like going to a bad Broadway play. The over-the-top dance routine, it wasn’t the way basketball should be played. Cavs fans loved it, the Cavs loved it. Other teams hated it. It made my stomach curl. It was fuel for other teams, like the Celtics. They acted like champions. They became champions. James led the buffoon brigade. It was not respecting the game, but nobody could say “no” to the "king."
Outside of Cleveland, watching James fail became a sport. It started in places like Washington and Boston when James was still with the Cavs. Maybe those teams should get a piece of the happiness pie, specifically former Washington Wizards and current Mavs Caron Butler and DeShawn Stevenson, who can flash a ring at James after years of misery in the nation's capital. They found titles in Dallas after watching James whine and cry at every foul for seven years in Cleveland.
The bad guy image picked up steam from here--Washington, Boston, New York and Chicago were now on board with Cleveland.
James never wanted to play in Cleveland. If he did, he would have used his star power to bring big name players to the Cavs.
To listen to the national media, the guys James played with in Cleveland were the bottom of the scrap heap. For a guy who “loves” his teammates, James threw every player who shared the locker room with him in Cleveland under the bus by saying he wanted teammates who wouldn’t die in the moment of a big game. Just read the tweets from Boobie Gibson and Mo Williams now. Even though they didn’t win a game in the 2007 NBA Finals, the team made it to there. James was great that season, but, he needed some help to make it to the championship. The 2007 Cavs deserve more credit than they get.
The Boston-Washington-New York-Chicago-Cleveland express picked up the rest of the NBA with that dog and pony show in Miami after Bosh and James joined up with Wade. If the “yes men" had the guts to say, “no,” it might have been a different story.
James disrespected every NBA player who actually earned or tried to earn an NBA title with his line about winning championship after championship. Saying he is going to win multiple championships before he have even had a team meeting is really bad mojo.
But, it gets even better than that. After beating the Celtics in the playoffs, James acted like he just won game seven of the NBA Finals. If he acted like he won it all. But, it took one more finger in the fate of karma to end the dream of winning a title.
Flash forward to game two in