LeBron James on his off day flying to Miami to workout with his close friend and blood brother Dwyane Wade has turned into an escalation of trivialities where on the one hand there is contrived outrage that he left Cleveland on his day off to hang out with his beloved friend, and on the other hand there is real fanbase angst and insecurity that this is a repeat of 2010.
Unhappiness left open an escape route mapped on his iPhone six years ago, the wounds of which have not healed enough for Cavs fans to take LeBron’s behavior in stride. They don’t trust his word is his word, that when he says he is not leaving the Land he’s not leaving. It’s easy to understand the collective paranoia because of how the pendulum has swung up and down with such devasating results. LeBron subsidizes the entire organization (and city) in a way that is so powerful- he really is the King- everything he does is refracted in the light of LeBron loving being here. And so the question is: why can’t he work out with his friends here? Why did he have to go to South Beach?
That’s one part of it, his attachment to Wade. It’s a powerful presence, and as he alluded to, positive energy in his life. But the elephant in the room is that LeBron is a free agent come summer. With the exception of Charles Barkley, most pundits think Cleveland has taken a step back. Even if that is the case and the Cavs don’t win a title this year, is LeBron leaving Cleveland?
He is here because his family, his wife particularly, and his mother, wanted to come back here and LeBron believed the basketball situation was good enough for him to win a title. And yet, the one year contract that ends in June creates a situation where something meaningless like a workout with your best friend is blown way out of proportion and there is too much reading of the tea leaves. Would anyone have cared if LeBron had flown to Chicago. Or, Manhattan. Just the mention of Wade sends the Cavs faithful into shock and panic, fixatingly clinging to the idea LeBron is leaving them high and dry again. And for the same destination.
Look at the Heat, the cynic says. They have a front court presence in Hassan Whiteside. They have a nice defensive rookie in Justise Winslow. Wade can still produce. Goran Dragic adds speed in the backcourt. Filter Loul Deng out, put LeBron in. Reuinte with Bosh. Beg Ray Allen to end his NBA hiatus and then it’s one more crack at it.
Those are the dark thoughts thrust to the surface each time LeBron has a moment that reminds Cavs fans of what he did in 2010 and who he did it with. Kyrie may want to run his own team but he showed in 2013-14, he’s not good enough to carry a marginal sqaud to the 8th seed. As much as he hates to admit it, he needs LeBron. The Cavs need LeBron. Cleveland needs LeBron. But LeBron?
He only needs a situation where he is happy. He is happy when he has his friends to relieve the stress. He admitted he wanted to go to L.A. but it was too long a flight.
“I would love to go to L.A. but I’ll take 2½ hour flight over 4½. I’ve got a house in L.A. but it makes more sense for me to go South than go West. But I go because I want to go.”
Wasn’t it his day off? Isn’t a day off meant for recovery. You are supposed to do exactly what you want to do when you are not required to go to work.
In this part of the season, the Cavs need as much stress relief as possible. Add up all the dark clouds. A new coach. Kevin Love still acting like Kevin Love. Kyrie unhappy Lebron has paralyzed his freedom game. The Raptors breathing down the Cavs neck. If anyone needs a mini-break, it’s LeBron.
Take your pick. Dwyane Wade or Chris Paul. One is south. the other is west. Lebron will be in California next week, plus the flight was too long. So Miami was an easy choice. So was not standing in front of the media in an I’m Sorry moment. When you apologize, it means you realize you have done something wrong. Friendship isn’t wrong, despite what the old school cats say.
“I don’t care. What do I go there for? I go there ’cause I want to.”
Old school vets don’t let up. Last week it was Steph Curry. This week it is LeBron shouldn’t hang out with a playoff opponent. Chill. It’s March. If the Heat and Cavs hook-up, it would be in May.
LeBron working out with Wade won’t mean LeBron will take it easy on Wade in the playoffs. Or vice-versa. Winning a title for Cleveland and for himself is the LeBron James eyes on the prize. A day off in Miami is exactly what it says it is. A day off.
photo via llananba