CLEVELAND - He said it himself.
"I'm going to try to [stop the discussion about free agency], but you always have reporters who are going to always bring it up. They're going to change the question and make it sound like something else. But it will get to a point, if I continue to hear it, where I will say, 'Hey guys, I've answered the question and out of respect, let's talk about this after the season.'"
Those were LeBron James' words in Sept. to the media about the summer of 2014.
"Let's talk about it after the season."
But already, as we begin the 2013-14 season, the talk will not stop.
Marla Ridenour of The Akron Beacon Journal, whose work I enjoy a lot, published a column this past weekend entitled, "Would a three-peat help LeBron James return to Cavs?"
Better question - is there any way to possibly answer that?
Unless James shockingly provides concrete insight into it himself, it's a no.
How can we possibly determine whether or not three consecutive titles is some sort of tipping point foretelling James' Cleveland comeback?
"Winning a third title would also allow James to make good on his 'Not one, not two, not three….' comment from that frivolous Heat pep rally when he arrived in 2010," Ridenour writes.
That James quote, however, continues with "...not four, not five, not six, not seven." Never did LeBron even imply that three titles in Miami was his goal. His expectations, which still come across as tongue-in-cheek but were taken as testament, set a very high bar.
And as hard as any of us may try to get into James' head, as many did through the end of the 2010 playoffs and months leading up to "The Decision," it is not possible.
Chris Broussard spent hours on ESPN that summer theorizing why LeBron would return to Cleveland, or choose New York or maybe Chicago.
Then, James went to Miami. Cavs jerseys were burned, hearts were torn and Miami's "big three" was formed.
Now, it's starting to feel like deja vu, a season of rumors and "sources close to..." reporting making its own comeback.
In the aforementioned column, Ridenour references a line from an "ESPN The Magazine" piece written by Brian Windhorst: " Windhorst writes that Wade and James refer to themselves as friends, but those close to them say they are only friendly."
Shaq and Kobe allegedly feuded for years with the Lakers but managed to make it work long enough to rack up three rings together.
Since when do teammates have to be best buddies? If they can co-exist on the court and win, as LeBron and Wade have done a lot already, their alleged friendship status should not be an issue of contemplation.
It's like being thrown back into the days of MySpace and putting a microscope on a friend's "Top 8," which allowed users to "rank" their friends from one through eight.
Thank goodness LeBron doesn't have a "Top 8" in 2013.
What purpose does it serve anyone to analyze James' intentions come seven or eight months from now when the 2013-14 campaign has yet to even unfold?
With the Cavs getting their season underway, focus on the guys currently in the wine and gold.
Enjoy Kyrie Irving's silky shot and Anderson Varejao's hustle on the boards (as long as they both stay healthy).
Watch a young nucleus work with an experienced head coach who brought Cleveland to its last championship round.
Stop worrying about the guy 1,200 miles south and think about the team here, especially with the clean slate of a new campaign.
If you're a Cavs fan, root for the Cavs - not some speculative scenario involving the Heat, James and his free agency.