LeBron James' Decision: Welcome to South Beach
Without question, the LeBron James free-agency saga was the most speculated sporting event not played on a court, field or rink in the history of pro sports. In addition to the usual suspects — ESPN, any and all sports blogs and talk radio nationwide — Twitter made this drama a literal second-to-second adventure.
And that was just since James and the Cavaliers were eliminated in the Eastern Conference semifinals by the Celtics in mid-May.
But the King James speculation seemingly went back to the day he first stepped onto his hometown court. There was a certain dread associated with his debut, as if he wouldn’t be able to overcome playing in a haunted sports town no matter how great of a player he blossomed into — even if he eclipsed M-Jeff in stature.
The sweep at the hands of San Antonio in the 2007 NBA Finals only emphasized the city of Cleveland’s inability to house a championship franchise.
So the discussion began.
There was the talk that he would join Jay-Z in Brooklyn after the hip-hop superstar moved the Nets from New Jersey.
There was the talk that James would want to play in New York for the Knicks and have center stage all to himself at Madison Square Garden.
And there was every other destination that one could make an argument for the last few months.
Chicago seemed the most logical landing spot, with two emerging stars in Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah, along with free-agent prize Carlos Boozer, and a head coach in Tom Thibodeau who has proven that he knows how to take King James out of a playoff series.
In the end, however, playing for the Heat in South Beach with fellow 2003 draft picks Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh was too much to resist. James made the announcement during an absurd hour-long ESPN special called “The Decision” at the Boys and Girls Club of Greenwich, Conn. on Thursday night, much to the dismay of die-hard Cavaliers fans.
There will be questions as to how the Heat will fill out the rest of the roster, just as there was with the Celtics when they landed Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to go along with Paul Pierce. But at the end, the Celtics proved their mettle and helped deliver Garnett the elusive ring.
James has improved each year playing off the ball, which is crucial if he is to coexist with a player such as Wade, whose strength is handling the rock. Both he and Wade are great passers, which will be lethal with a finisher like Bosh inside. So questions about how the trio will coexist should cease right away.
Bosh declared that he wanted to play with James at the start of free agency. And his wish came true Thursday night — and he gets Wade as a bonus.
So the decision was made. Hopefully, for all of us, Chris Broussard can now take a very long vacation. And everyone can stay away from Twitter for awhile — at least until NFL training camp nears and “The Decision 2010: Brett Favre” permeates our daily lives once again.
Wow, poor Cleveland.
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