Whenever LeBron James decides to stay in Miami with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, have a prodigal son-like homecoming in Cleveland, take the mantle from Kobe Bryant in Los Angeles, or form a new powerhouse with Bosh or Carmelo Anthony in Phoenix or Houston, the real loser will be the lunacy.
So far, the mere presence of the game’s best player on the open market has done wonders for rumors, speculation, fake Twitter accounts and even aviation trackers in the last week. James continues to hold the NBA hostage and the uncertainty has created a level of hysteria that dwarfs any of the actual player movement that has already taken place.
The only way the NBA free agent recruiting period could get more bizarre is if James decides to retire and take up playing minor league baseball for the Chicago White Sox. The crescendo for a conclusion has been so crazy, that if James decided to announce his next decision on a better-produced, less egotistical, (maybe) half-hour long special on a major cable television network, it might not seem so out of bounds. A Decision, Part II might actually calm everybody down if only because then we might finally have some concrete information.
James’ power has never been more evident than it is right now, because the four-time Most Valuable Player and two-time NBA champion carries the unenviable position as a portable dynasty creator; wherever he goes, the Larry O’Brien trophy is bound to follow. That’s why most teams have been unwilling to give serious chase to alternatives. Their logic: Because LeBron.
In the two-week span since James opted out of his contact in Miami, the speculation has gone from him leaving Miami, to him giving Pat Riley the room and time to get something done, to him leaving again – all without a single word from James or a public comment from his childhood friend turned agent, Rich Paul. Paul – one of the R’s in James’s LRMR management team – is a native of Cleveland, the headquarters of his burgeoning agency, Klutch Sports. He handled the initial conversations with teams on behalf of James last week and is reportedly pushing his client for a return to his home state.
It cannot be understated that before James sat down in that plaid shirt to inform Jim Gray he was taking his talents to South Beach during the summer of 2010, Paul called Cavs owner Dan Gilbert to give him the heads up.
Gilbert was hurt to see James leave; James was upset by the scathing letter Gilbert wrote to Cavaliers fans.
But the relationship between Gilbert and James’ camp began to thaw publicly when the Cavaliers chose Paul’s client, Tristan Thompson, with the fourth pick in 2011, ahead of the favored Jonas Valanciunas. And, last season, James was welcomed back when the franchise retired Zydrunas Ilgauskas’ jersey.
Given his northeast Ohio ties, James is probably the only all-star caliber talent who would consider leaving to play in Cleveland, where he starred from 2003 to 2010. A reunion with the Cavaliers would make for an incredible, Hollywood-worthy redemptive tale and allow James to truly make amends with a jilted city.
With the exception of drafting and locking up two-time all-star point guard Kyrie Irving, Cleveland has mostly bumbled its rebuilding efforts. The lack of seasoned talent on the roster would make it difficult for the Cavaliers to become immediate contenders – even with the sublime talents of James. But they are stocked with assets, including No. 1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins and three first-round picks next year, which could possibly be traded for some veteran help.