WINNING ONE FOR GOODBYE?
Can a title allow LeBron to ask The Question?
With the enormous crowds tuning in to watch LeBron James in the NBA Finals, one has to wonder whether or not this may be the last time we’ll see him in Cleveland, again.
After trying for years to lead Cleveland to the promised land of NBA Champions, James took to the airwaves to make The Decision, a mis-guided attempt to raise some money for the local Boys & Girls Club in New England where the event was aired live and the King made the ultimate choice to “take my talents to South Beach.”
Cleveland was devastated and heart-broken as their local hero had somehow turned his back on a city, if only by trying to find the way to an NBA title and grow as a person, player and brand. James went to four straight NBA Finals, winning the middle two, and now has “come home” to Cleveland to lead the Cavaliers to the promised land he himself had to learn how to find by going to Miami. With the Cavaliers in the NBA Finals and on the verge of taking a 2-1 lead with a Game 4 at home and the opponents nearing the cracking point even though they’d won 67 regular season games, I think we may be seeing the last of LeBron in Cleveland for the second time in his career.
If James can lead the rag-tag bunch of junkyard dogs to an NBA title without their second and third-best players, All-Stars Kyrie Irving(kneecap) and Kevin Love(shoulder), he has accomplished what he’s gone there to do, which is bring the first major league title to Cleveland since 1964. Is that enough for the King to make the move into free-agency and ask the Cleveland fan base, “Can I go to Hollywood, sign with the Lakers and be America’s cross-over superstar?”
Although Cleveland’s initial shock and disappointment of losing him again will be drastic, the long-lasting effects of allowing and, in fact, pushing your local-star, mega-talent out the door and into the spotlight that he deserves if that is the path he and his family would so choose. Jumping into the movie business is something that we’ve already seen him do with the release of the Trainwreck trailer during the Finals. He’s personable and friendly, his smile allows fans to believe him. His ability to perform in the clutch transfers to the ultimate spotlight of the Showtime gold. Stars flock to stars and James being in LA would be great for the league, even though they’re doing fine with stars in small- to medium-size markets. If he can win with these current Cavaliers playing in the Finals, he can win with anyone. Let’s get him that challenge back and get him out West for a couple years. Being added to headline at Point Forward with Kobe Bryant, Julius Randle and projected pick Jahlil Okafor, the Lakers could focus their free-agent needs on lengthy defenders and 3-point shooters with ball handling skills. (Kobe has 1 year left, he can tie Mike with 6 rings. Don’t be so sure he wouldn’t jump on board.)
But, why does the Cleveland fan have to take all the pain? Why would they say “go to LA”? What could possibly stop the animosity that occurred last time he left? The King is theirs, he always will be. See Jim Brown & Rock n’ Roll. He would have given them their first major title in 51 years. I also believe, no matter what the situation, that LeBron will someday buy the Cavaliers from Dan Gilbert, more likely sooner than later. They’ve dealt with the Drive, the Fumble, the Decision and the Manziel fiasco, but even this Celtics’ fan says let’s help the ‘Mistake by the Lake’ save the ‘More Flames for James’ t-shirts and accept the fact that the best player ever should be in the spotlights of Hollywood.
Let’s hope that once the Cavaliers raise the Larry O’Brien trophy, it’s Showtime!
(photo: espy.com illustration, Mike Facciolo)