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A graduate of Sports Studies at Paisley University, which is about as rewarding as being the best dancer in the Spinal Unit.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

THE BREAK-UP: A Summer of LeBron

If you don't mind, things are going to get a little less about dick jokes and dogs-in-superman costumes for a minute, so put on your big boy pants and we'll begin.

Game 6 of the 2010 NBA Playoff second round: As I sat watching the game live on ESPN with Lebron James racking up 27 points, 19 rebounds and 10 assists and the seconds wile away, I was absolutely sure i'd just seen the world's (arguably) best player throw the game.
 Not just the game, but his legacy and status with the Cleveland Cavaliers organisation. Something didn't feel right. Yeah, he racked up a triple double, but at no point did I feel he wanted to go any further in the post-season. In fact, the entire team seemed to lack heart of any kind. At one point, with the season on the line, Anderson Varejao stopped the entire offense in the 4th quarter as he complained to the ref's about a tiny cut on his forehead. Lebron continued dribbling the ball, casually watching as the whole Boston defence looked on bemused. No-one, not the coach, bench or players on-court reacted to what was a pathetic issue when the entire years efforts were about to be pissed away. The game continued with James ripping rebounds violently and galloping up the court with seemingly evil intent, before slowing to a stop and passing up open shots. Every so often he would have a burst of points and assists, but stopping short of actually taking the lead. The game finished with no fight or desire, no attempt to foul and claw back respect. A couple of months later, it turned out I wasn't the only one with suspicions.

The buzzer sounded and the ball pitter pattered to a standstill.
James walked off the court to empty seats and boo's from what little crowd there was left. Of course, at this point Lebron had made no inclination that he was leaving the Cavaliers, a city who had harboured and worshipped him for seven years. Even his teammates knew nothing of his intentions.
A couple days later, rumours started to fly as it became apparent that the team fragmentation may have started with a 'Yo Momma' joke come to life, as team-mate Delonte West was widely known to be having a relationship with Lebron's mother. When I say 'widely known', this had until recently, been a circle that hadn't encompassed LeBron himself.

"...and me and your mother will get you on weekends..."
The summer quickly generated into a waiting game for the basketball world with what was the most memorable collection of free-agents in a long time. Chris Bosh, Dwayne Wade and James among others were all out of contract and were being wooed by every team in the league with anything from hundreds of millions of dollars (Knicks) to paintings made of pasta shapes (Clippers). After several weeks, Chris Bosh announced his signing with the Miami Heat and friend, Wade.

 Like Christmas at Rhianna's house, Cleveland clenched as they closed thier eyes and braced for the hit. Despite being almost inevitable, there were still the few Cavs fans that had faith in the concept of loyalty and the foundation their number 23 had laid down. It was not to be.
Through the most ego-driven way possible, LeBron and ESPN combined to create an hour of excruciation. Dragging out what should have been a brief announcement within a press conference, The King and his management team turned their national hero status around in just one hour with what is infamously known as "The Decision".

An obnoxious and self-important special was exactly what Cleveland didn't need. They were clearly enamoured with the guy. At the very least, they should have had it broken to them gently over coffee. Put yourself in thier position. You hear your relationship is over via a nationally televised special and that they're leaving you for someone about 20 degrees hotter. Men, pffft.

"I fucking hate my job."

Well, you can imagine the response. Actually you can't. Unless you live in a country recently invaded by The Great Satan and burning effigies is just something you do on the weekend. Dumbfounded fans demonstrated the way they felt by doing this, this and then this. No one was more eliquent than the Cav's owner, Dan Gilbert who felt he needed to post an open letter to the people of his city about the situation and "personally guarantee that the Cleveland Cavaliers will win an NBA Championship before the self-titled former 'king' wins one."

I'm pretty sure at this point that the guys burning jerseys and getting arrested would have sobered up instantly and gained some perspective.

Once the initial shock had sunk in, people started wondering what this team were going to do with it's three superstars.Well, two. Chris Bosh (Below) is only famous for having the most ridiculous head to body ratio in the world.

 Would they gel? Would they buckle under the pressure?
 Time would tell. The guys that paved the way for James in Charles Barkley and Michael Jordan weighed in on the subject and largely disapproved of his change of surroundings, the former calling it a "punk move".

Personally, I could understand.
1. You swap Cleveland for Miami: Essentially moving from a city where the favourite local past time wasn't basketball, but clincal depression.
2. You get to play with your friends: As opposed to someone who is allegedly banging your mother.
3. You increase your chances of winning a championship by tenfold.

Hitchhiking: Hard work

So, whatever. Yeah, sure you showed no consideration to the people who treat you like a God. You should acknowledge you are pursuing something you want for selfish reasons and in this case, loyalty and integrity took a back seat.

Then came this interview last week that included this exchange:

Interviewer, referring to the months of backlash following "The Decision"): “Do you think there’s a role that race plays in this?”

James: “I think so at times. It’s always, you know, a race factor.”

This single retort suggests to me that this 6'8", 250 lbs of obscene talent has reached the point of no return.
They had a picture of him the size of a building. He has literally millions of fans that scream for him, praise him, express disbelief for his abilities. He's on the cover of newspapers and magazines in hundreds of languages across the world. Television beams replays of dunks, passes and blocks to audiences of billions more. Regardless, the interviewer opened LeBron up to an opportunity to redeem himself a little and acknowledge his actions while hopefully showing a glimmer of understanding for human nature.

It was not to be. He couldn't possibly be at fault here, so what else could it be?

But of course, this was never about race. It was about consideration.

The one element that no healthy realtionship will work without.

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