“Crazy from the Heat:” How Lebron flipped the script

Photo of A.G. Gancarski
A.G. Gancarski

A couple of weeks ago, the state of Florida became home to the biggest free agent signing in the history of pro sports. LeBron James. LeBron James promises no less than seven NBA titles for the Sunshine State. Can it be accomplished? Probably not. Still, it’s refreshing to see ambition poured forth onto such an outsized canvas.

LeBron. Dwyane Wade. Chris Bosh. None of them signed for maximum salary. Just a couple of weeks ago, during the NBA finals, discussion centered on whether Kobe might be the greatest of all time, or whether those old men with the Celtics might be able to pull off a title, now things have changed. Now the Heat is the prohibitive favorite for a title. And Boston and LA? Old news.

Pretty much the entire sports media criticized LeBron’s “Decision” special – a one-hour infomercial promoting James’ signing. Oh, they all put on their “I’m A Journalist!” shirts and took their best shots at it – saying it was too exploitative, that it was beneath ESPN’s renowned journalistic standards, and all the rest. But all of their august ruminations pale when compared to how well the special did as a TV program – a 7.3 for the whole hour, with a top QH of 9.6. Folks, these are boffo numbers – validating the enterprise itself.

Speaking of boffo numbers, the one prop bet that interests me the most here is this: “How many titles will the Heat win in the next six seasons?” Right now the over/under on that? 2.5. Would I take that bet? Absolutely, if a part of me didn’t buy into the Mayan calendar rendering a bet designed to pay off in 2016 effectively useless.

There are those out there, of course, who will continue deriding James. They’ll dog him out for deserting Cleveland, as if the city had a right to his entire career even though its climate sucks and the overbearing owner of the Cavs – Dan Gilbert – couldn’t be bothered to give LeBron the complementary pieces he needed to actually make a title run.

Never mind the player’s desires – they don’t matter! Never mind that he actually wanted to play with his friends, under the tutelage of one of the best basketball minds ever in Heat GM Pat Riley, in one of the most dynamic and interesting cities in the Western Hemisphere. No! Better to return to Cleveland, with its pollution and desolation and 20% unemployment rate. Because the fans deserved a hero. Yeah right.

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  • rshaw

    How about we stick to how the player acted rather than trying to tear apart an entire city. Its easy for someone who has never been to Cleveland to rip into it due to its sub par economic figures. But the fact of the matter is Cleveland is not unlike many other Midwestern cities, places like Kansas City, Milwaukee, Cincinnati, and even Pittsburgh. Its an area that is filled with hard working people who absolutely would die for a sports championship. Cleveland has had its fill of heart breaking losses, as ESPN has continuously documented over the past few weeks. But this time it felt different. Not only is Lebron from Northeast Ohio, not only has he embraced his nicknames ‘The King’ and ‘The Chosen One’, but he went on national television to announce his departure. He opened up a wound by leaving Cleveland, “The Decision” was just his way of pouring salt into it. Narcissistic. Egotistical. Didn’t see either of those words in the article.

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