No matter where you go, there you are (Confucius)
We are not that far into the joke where we can laugh before we even hear the punchline. LeBron James has altered the reality. There is the expectation of LeBron wanting to win the title for Cleveland, and at the same time, LeBron wanting to be out of here so he can hang 24-7 with his friends. All he has done the past two weeks is remind his new crush (Cleveland) that no matter what happens here in the next few months, he still loves his old crush (Miami) and it’s a viral love without a cure.
What Miami has that Cleveland doesn’t have is the lure of friendship history that paralyzes emotional LeBron to a point that he can’t even not think about it, even when he should be deep in contemplation about leading this team to the NBA Finals. It’s enough to make Cleveland wonder about LeBron’s loyalties to the city he doesn’t have a contract with come July 1st. There is no question about his intentions. He wants to win a couple of more rings. LeBron James, the greatest player of his generation, with only two rings, emasculates his basketball influence, particularly if Steph Curry keeps ringing up the championship cash register.
And isn’t that what this is all about anyway, LeBron in a Steph Curry world.
The comparison of LeBron James to Lew Alcindor is perfectly timed. Alcindor was a phenom high school player at Power Memorial in NYC. He was all anyone talked about and when he went to UCLA he was the most popular and revered college basketball player, probably in the history of the sport. He was drafted number one and won a title in his second year with the Milwaukee Bucks, a small market mid-western city. LeBron also was talked about in high school, on the cover of magazines, dreamed over. He too ended up in a small market mid-western city, the number one pick. Like Alcindor who became Kareem Abdul-Jabbar when he was 24 years old, LeBron left the team that drafted him. Abdul-Jabaar had the luxury of winning a title before his exile but he didn’t leave Wisconsin to join friends. LeBron lost in Cleveland and was looking to be saved. Both men won multiple regular season MVP’s and were the most dominant players for a generation until someone else came along.
LeBron seems confused as to how to handle the Steph Curry spotlight. The NBA has titled towards the dynamic shooting guard, obsessed with his every move the way they used to be with LeBron. LeBron’s team has had its share of ups and downs so he doesn’t get much notice for what he does on the court anymore. Besides, we’ve seen it thousands of times by now. Originality is missing. But Curry….
He has one three point bomb off the dribble as he steps away from his defender, his nasty mouthpiece hanging off his tongue and it’s in everyone’s timeline.
Needing attention the way most of us need oxygen, LeBron goes to the low hanging fruit, what he knows will make everyone hate him but will give him attention nevertheless. It is his basic contradiction. He wants attention for the right reasons but damn it, he’ll get it however he can.
It’s a tiresome and played out story that he wants to play with Wade again. And Chris Paul. And Carmelo. That LeBron laughs about how unrealistic it is only reinforces his inability to stay in his lane, you know, concentrate on winning the title this year. But the thing about an idea is there is always some genius out there willing to make it happen, plotting. All four players are north of 30 years old and Paul has never been out of the second round of the playoffs. All have seen their title door slightly shut because of Curry. But CP3 and Wade and Carmelo have never talked about playing with one another in public. Only LeBron.
Wade, when told about LeBron’s comments said, “Don’t put me in that. I ain’t jumping in that.”
Carmelo said, ” I came here for a reason to win here in New York.”
Thematically, his Miami and L.A. and NYC romanticism reeks of lust and power and the continual reminder that LeBron has the Cavs in a chokehold. The Cavs know they are not good enough for LeBron to stay faithful to them. He has an adulterous heart, looking elsewhere more times than you and I can blink. LeBron is intelligent on the one hand and emotionally needy on the other. Intellectually, the Cavs have a purpose to fulfill and with them he can ink his name in the Ohio record books for the next century. But he has an inability to be quiet about things as he seeks both affirmation and scorn in his role as a puppeteer, yanking everyone’s strings to nourish his egocentric soul. How many times does he have to remind his teammates that none of them is a true friend of his. How did he put it? He said: “it’s about being around guys that you don’t even have to say nothing, you automatically know. We just have that type of history.”
He also has a 2-4 NBA Finals history.
The Cavs should be worried and should take it all in stride. This is what they signed up for (again). It’s like watching the same movie twice. On cue, LeBron is aggressively exhibiting his power and fragility and the Cavs suits are bystanders. Ty Lue told LeBron to tone the Wade hugging thing down. David Griffin said focus on the playoffs. It’s words in the air, quickly floating into the clouds. LeBron has the leverage. He subsidizes this city. He has not changed.
photo via llananba