Tonight LeBron James, arguably the best player in the NBA–hell, on planet earth–will announce whether he will remain a Cleveland Cavalier or will migrate to greener basketball pastures somewhere else. Somewhere else being either Miami, New Jersey, New York, or Chicago.

King James will announce his decision on an hour-long ESPN special entitled “The Decision.” The DVD release of “The Decision” should be available just in time for the 2010 holiday shopping season. It will make either a splendid stocking stuffer or one of the worst gifts imaginable, depending on what city you rep and where James decides to go.

I’m rooting for Chicago. If LeBron wants to win championships, Chicago is where he should go, considering the solid starting squad of Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson, and the recently acquired power forward Carlos Boozer. It also doesn’t hurt that Forbes has the Chicago Bulls organization ranked third–behind the Lakers and Knicks, respectively–on its list of the most valuable NBA franchises. The Bulls organization is a solid place for King James to land and embark on fulfilling his championship destiny.

Processing this situation over the past couple weeks–synthesizing the talk radio babble and tweets and newspaper articles into one well-rounded perspective–has been nothing short of bewildering. Everybody has an opinion on where LeBron is going to go, where he should go, where he could go, where he won’t go, et cetera. We’re all just sitting here waiting, scratching our heads and gnawing our nails, waiting for the King to speak. And he’s been mighty quiet about the whole ordeal.

If LeBron James becomes a Chicago Bull the Bulls are a championship-caliber basketball team. If he does not sign with the Bulls, the Bulls are significantly better than last year, which doesn’t amount to much when it comes to playoff time. You need to have a superstar to win an NBA championship, end of story.

Chicago acquiring LeBron James could prove a magnificent resurrection of sorts, bringing a whole generation of guys back to the team. Guys like me, who grew up with the Bulls Dynasty, and who will likely buy new Bulls schwag and will no longer have to refer to the team as Da Bulls. Personally speaking, a renewed Bulls franchise will steal my focus away from worrying about the morbidly awful Chicago Cubs–a team that has not won a World Series since 1908. (That’s the same year Henry Ford invented the automobile assembly line and started churning out Model Ts.)

Still, I have this nagging suspicion that King James is not going to be a Chicago Bull. My basketball insecurities bristle up, and my gut instinct tells James will remain a Cleveland Cavalier. If so, loyalty is clearly more important to the LBJ brand than winning. What’s more, LeBron James is a vital component of Cleveland’s economy, if not the only thing going for that city right now. So, what kind of person would commit an entire hour of television to royally screwing his hometown team?

Uncertainty rules. One thing’s for sure: Tonight’s airing of the “The Decision” will either cast LeBron James as a hometown hero of the highest class or as one of ugliest egos professional sports has ever seen. And we will all be witnesses.


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JUSTIN BENTON has written for the Nervous Breakdown since 2009. He co-authored Board with Brad Listi, a literary collage released by TNB Books in 2012. He is now a father and is currently writing an ongoing pantoum poem you can find here.

37 responses to “Kingdom Come?”

  1. Greg Olear says:

    As the Sports Guy wrote over at ESPN, if LeBron does jump ship tonight, it will be the biggest sports dick-over of a fan base ever. Nothing could come close.

    I’m a Knicks fan, and once was a really staunch one, but the years of Isiah Thomas and Scott Layden and Larry Brown, a mercenary prick who sports writers trip over themselves lauding, has caused my attention to wane. If LeBron comes? I don’t know. There’s something inherently douchey about stealing another franchise’s best player.

    Also, the dude is not a playoff finisher. Not yet, anyway. Dwyane Wade (not a typo, WordPress) crushes him there.

    I’d rather James go elsewhere, I think, and we trade for Carmelo.

    • So true about LBJ not closing games out. He is a facilitator. But Kobe crushes them all.

      • Greg Olear says:

        The same Kobe who was something like 3-for-16 in Game Seven, and who Mark Jackson compared to John Starks?

        I love Kobe, but he has his off nights, too.

        Wade is the best closer, if he’s not hurt.

        But there will never EVER be another MJ.

        • But Wade only has one ring. Kobe has five! Now, whether Bryant “closed” those five out, I dunno. I’d have to look at game records, which isn’t as fun as making grand assumptions.

        • Greg Olear says:

          Why am I arguing against Kobe? I love Kobe. I’m only saying he isn’t as good as Jordan, but you’re right, he’s still the best we got.

          And his mind-control of Artest this season was vintage Jordan, like the Rodman thing.

  2. Jeffrey Pillow says:

    All signs (and rented cabanas) point to South Beach: http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/blog/ball_dont_lie/post/LeBron-James-is-packing-his-beach-bags-for-Miami?urn=nba,254632

    I’m not one for talking legacies (usually) but Lebron, if he goes to another team, particularly one (Miami) that has two legit superstars in Wade and Bosh, is killing his.

    You know one reason Jordan is considered the greatest? He stayed put in Chicago and helped build a gutter franchise into one of the greatest powerhouse dynasties in sports history. Same for Tim Duncan. Same for Kobe Bryant.

    If Lebron goes to Miami, his legacy will always be overshadowed by the fact he wasn’t the sole superstar or even part of a superstar duo; in order to win the crown, he had to be part of a trio.

    Once again, another year, we’ll have to hear about how Lebron’s team is going all the way to Finals and will crush the opposing team — just like the last two years. But the reality is, there’s Kobe. The Black Mamba. The ultimate closer. The ultimate assassin.

    I’m willing to go out on a limb and say Phil’s Triangle will have yet another three-peat, and Lebron will be sitting on the sidelines biting his fingernails.

    • Jeffrey Pillow says:

      P.S. Thanks for writing this. I fucking love basketball!

    • Jordan had several formidable supporting casts. And while the weeds have grown around my Bulls Dynasty memories, some of those playoff series were not easy victories.

      Agreed on the sharing of the spotlight in Miami. That’s troubling.

      • Greg Olear says:

        Relax, guys. Bosh is overrated. And it’s only three players. Who else will they get with no money? Shit, Jeffro, you might start at center for the Heat if Bron goes there.

      • Justin, like you, I grew up a Bulls fan. Not for obvious reasons: Jordan. (I was actually a huge Pippen. HUGE) When we got cable where I grew up in Virginia, the only channel that played basketball non-stop was, yes, WGN. Bulls everyday. P.S. I still have a “Da Bulls” sticker from back in the day.

        I actually wanted Lebron to go to Chicago as well (Resurrect their status in the NBA) even though I’m not a big Lebron fan. I think the guy is the most dominant player in the game, yes, but not the best player when the season matters: the postseason. I mean, shit, Wilt Chamberlain was the most dominant player of his era but he couldn’t beat Russell for the life of him and ended his career with only two championships. Russell owned The Stilt when it mattered.

        I found it humorous what Chicago did trying to lure Lebron there: sending him a pair of vintage Air Jordans with the note, “Can you feel these shoes?” I think it may have hurt their cause but the point was well taken and the answer is, “No.” Lebron would live in Jordan’s shadow even more so than Pippen. I think Lebron knows that. Who knows? Maybe in the next hour he’ll surprise me and pick Chicago but I doubt it.

        Right now, he’s just a king without a crown. And one of those regular seasons MVPs (from 2008) belongs to The Black Mamba in LA.

  3. Joe Daly says:

    I’m not much of an NBA fan, but it’s been fascinating to see the groundswell of hype surrounding LBJ’s decision. It would be easy to wring hands and complain about society’s priorities, when the world is full of tragedy and horror, yet we devote an hour to watch a millionaire choose the location of his next office.

    But I’m too tired for that, and frankly moral outrage bores me. I’m not going to pretend to give much of a shit which team he selects (unless it’s the Celtics, in which I’ll be mildly pleased), but I’m looking forward to hearing the take on this from all my NBA junkie friends. I love sports, and even when I’m not well-versed in a particular sport (hoops, cricket, curling), I love hearing the passionate views of rabid sports fans.

    Btw, I was living in Chicago when the Bulls won their first championship. It was awesome. I was in the thick of the anarchy on the streets of the Gold Coast. I wanted them to win. When they won the second title, I was pretty ambivalent. I was again in the thick of the anarchy on the streets of the Gold Coast, and I watched people throw a cab through the window of Five Faces. Moments later I saw my buddy standing on top of the upturned cab, bloody fist raised in the air.

    A few championships later, I would have rather had Mussolini win than the bulls. That time, I was on mushrooms and I avoided the anarchy. I think that one was my favorite.

    • No reason to feel guilty about enjoying sports. They are a welcome distraction to the woes of the world. Like music. Food. Sex.

      Yes sir, 1991 was some year. Bulls first championship. “U Can’t Touch This”/”Ice Ice Baby” mania. Chris Farley on SNL. Desert Storm. Home Alone.

      Thanks for joining the conversation, Joe.

  4. Richard Cox says:

    Every once in a while I wish I had cable. Tonight is one of those nights.

  5. Hannah says:

    Wow… I actually read an article about sports… so amazing.

  6. LeBron is so pampered…..it’s almost like his tight leather wearing self should be called LeJustin, huh?

    Oh, man, I love a basketball post, Justin. Been a Golden State Warriors fan since 1989…21 years of sheer torture. In the Miami frenzy, you may not have noticed that the Warriors traded their best young player to the Knicks for 80 million dollars worth of David Lee….sigh….the worst organization in sports, bar none….

    • One thing going for the Warriors is they ditched that cheesy lightning bolt guy logo for the classic redux logo. That was a swell move.

      I think the Pittsburgh Pirates would give the Warriors a run for their money.

      • It’s true. That guy’s name was “Thunder!” Holy shit, was it embarrassing to be at a game and see that guy doing flip-dunks off a trampoline. It was like being at a pre-teen birthday party. Now if they could find an actual geographical location and become, say, The Oakland Warriors (the stadium’s in Oakland, after all) or even the San Francisco Warriors, they just might cease being a total laughingstock around the league. Might.

  7. Miami it is.

    James referred to his mother more than a few times when asked about his decision-making process. His mother, of course, the same woman who reportedly had relations with former Cavalier teammate Delonte West. Am I reading too much into this?

    Anyway. Some things I enjoyed:

    The Boys & Girls club’s collective groan after he said he was heading to Miami. The ESPN footage of disappointed Clevelanders. The ESPN footage of Miami d-bags celebrating. A LeBron James jersey being burned on a Cleveland street.

    The dimming of a star. The birth of a villian. Bros and hos before home.

    Welcome to Wade County, LeBron.

    • Greg Olear says:

      He’s SUCH a self-important asshole. I’m glad he’s not coming to New York.

      They traded Beasley to Minny for a pick to clear space. Because, you know, why have a top two pick on your team when the three big guys need a few extra ducats. They have ONE OTHER PLAYER on the roster — Mario Chambers.

      I wish I could buy stock in “LeBron will blow out his knee before the All-Star Game.”

      Dan Gilbert is bang-on about the curse. Have you heard of the Sports Guy’s Ewing Theory? Basically that some teams improbably improve after the “best player” leaves. Tiki Barber being a recent example.

      But this might do it for me. I feel icky having wasted time thinking about this. I can’t wait for the Lakers to have their way with them next year (although Orlando will beat them to the punch — no one on that short-stacked roster can stop Dwight Howard, and Stan V hates both the Heat and LeBron).

      • Uche Ogbuji says:

        I think teams in all sports often improve after their best player leaves. Sometimes a best player can overwhelm the team aesthetic. I guess a true best player is one who doesn’t, and MJ comes to mind, with the way he made so many other players better. Sorry I don’t have much more to offer. Haven’t really watched hoops since around the Houston titles. I barely know the modern game or players.

        • JB says:

          LeBron can now be removed from greatest-of-all-time discussion. He has decided to be LeBron Worthy, LeBron Pippen. He will do his work as a facilitator in the shadow of the alpha dog, which, in this case, is Dwyane Wade. Considering what a physical marvel James is, and that there is no reason he shouldn’t lead a team to several championships, this decision is sort of confusing. Perhaps the self-appointed King is starting to mature and realizes that he doesn’t enjoy the pressure anymore. He just wants to win titles.

  8. Dude, not sure if you caught Cavs owner Dan Gilbert’s response. It was classssssic. Talk about scathing. I posted it on my website if you’re interested: http://www.jeffreypillow.com/post/789108407/lebron-james-dan-gilbert-free-agency-cleveland-miami-cow

  9. Marni Grossman says:

    Oh, Justin, if only your prediction had come true!

    My sister and brother-in-law live in Cleveland and my mother and I were visiting them around the time of The Decision. The city was posted with black posters emblazoned with the word HOME on them. There were rallies all over the metro area.

    Poor Cleveland. LeBron was its only draw.

    • I can’t imagine what all the Cleveland kiddies are thinking right now. I try to imagine a 25-year-old Michael Jordan leaving to play with the Pistons or whomever, but I cannot. MJ was the Truth. LeBron, apparently, is not.

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