NBA

NBA: Time For Cleveland To Move On

The National Basketball Association (NBA) has crowned a new champion, and is now preparing for another wild offseason, spearheaded by yet another LeBron James decision.  This time, it does not appear that he has the type of options available to him as he had in the summer of 2010.  It seems as if he really only has two:  Miami and Cleveland.  It is amazing to me that there are still a ton of pundits, fans, and league officials, who pine for the day that James returns to Cleveland and leads them to a title.

The Cleveland Cavalier (Cavs) organization and fan base do nothing to stifle the conjecture that James will, and should return someday.  This is the same organization headed with Dan Gilbert – the man behind the semi-plantation owner-esque Cosmic Sands “How Dare You LeBron” letter he put on the Cavs website the night of James’ infamous “Decision” television program.  These are also the same fans who burned LeBron James’ jersey, and booed him relentlessly during his trips to Cleveland during the first couple of years.  After all of that – They still want him back!  It is amazing!

This situation reminds me of a condition I like to call “Crazy Ex Syndrome.”  No matter where you come from; what class you fall in; what race you are, you know the Crazy Ex Syndrome.

The syndrome plays out like this:  1. A woman (for example only, could be a man as well) gets cheated on by their significant other.  2. The woman refuses to break up with the cheater.  She complains to friends and family, but she always takes him back.  3. The cheater cheats on her some more.  4. The cheater eventually leaves the very in love woman for someone else.  5.  The woman scorches the earth cursing the cheater up and down, swaying friends and family against them, and trying to take every dime they have in a divorce settlement (if they were married).  6. The cheater’s new relationship doesn’t work out so they slink back to the woman they should have never cheated on in the first place.  7. The woman pathetically takes the cheater back and tells him “I never stopped loving you.”

Now, LeBron never cheated on anyone, and in my opinion, he had every right to leave as a collectively bargained NBA free agent, but my point is made.  Why can’t the woman who was cheated on have enough self-respect to just move on?  Why does this woman always take the man back?  It seems like our society trains people for weakness.  Cleveland should have been, and should continue to move forward.  Stop looking back.  Stop hoping and waiting for your ex-boyfriend to come back to you.  Despite what people say about you Cleveland, you are beautiful (in your own way).  You have something to offer another person, and I bet you the next person will appreciate you more than you ex ever did.

I’ve been to Cleveland… it’s not that bad (the little bit I’ve seen).  It’s quiet – but so is Catholic Church, and I hear that’s not bad either.  The Indian’s had a good run in the late 90’s and early 2000’s… that’s something.  The Browns drafted Johnny Football… that counts.  Geraci’s has some great pizza (really great pizza), so that’s something too.  Focus on your good points Cleveland – stop looking at the floor, and start looking at the ceiling.  Also, stop being desperate!  Stop clearing cap space and crossing your fingers.  Stop sending cryptic tweets about how attractive your young assets are (I’m talking to you Dan Gilbert).

Move the hell on.

Forward means Kyrie Irving.  How bad is it that Irving has to constantly hear about LeBron James?  Irving is a great young talent who deserves the full attention of Cleveland fans and the Cavs organization.  Fans are actually asking him “you aren’t going to just leave like LeBron are you?”  C’mon Cleveland.  I know it was a kid who asked Irving that at a press conference last year, but I have a feeling that there is a parent behind that question.  Fans have to be better than that.

Anyway, the Cavs should have spent the past couple of seasons drafting and maneuvering to build around him and only him.  When Magic Johnson retired, the Lakers weren’t gifted the number one overall pick the very next season.  When Michael Jordan called it quits (the second time) the Bulls sucked for years before bouncing back, and never had a young talent as good as Irving.

I can just feel a Cavs fan reading this saying “What about The Decision?”  What about it?  Being mad at James for “The Decision” is just an excuse to propagate hate and mask it in a backlash against supposed self-indulgence.  I do not remember a single person being upset before James uttered the words “I’m going to take my talents to South Beach.”  After that, the outrage began.

How dare him!  How dare he keep his decision so close to the vest that even the NBA insiders didn’t get the opportunity to be “inside.”  How dare he (along with Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh) decide their own fates and semi-construct their own team.  How dare he not go back to Cleveland where we can be assured he won’t be on a team that can win multiple championships, thus ensuring he can never truly be compared to the great Michael Jordan… how dare he!  It wasn’t the television program that everyone was mad at.  I know this because had he said he would be returning to Cleveland, no one would have been upset.  Everyone was scared that putting James, Wade, and Bosh on the same team would mean a string of championships that would not allow anyone else’s teams to win.  That didn’t happen, so why would Cleveland fans or anyone else still have a problem.

The Miami Heat have gone to four straight NBA Finals and won two of those titles.  It is impressive, but far from dominant.  They struggled each year to beat the Mavs, Spurs, Pacers, and Celtics.  It was not easy.  James had to get better – and he did.  The Heat had to gel as a team – and they did.  It was harder than anyone thought.  They deserve their accolades, championships, and for God sake some respect.  James’ decision to leave Cleveland was validated and he has become a better person and basketball player in the process.  That means everyone (especially Cleveland fans) needs to stop using “The Decision” as a bully pulpit of hate.

The Cavs won three of the last four number one overall picks, including the one they have this coming Thursday.  Think about that for a second.  They did not just get mere Lottery picks… they got the number one overall pick three out of the last four years.  What else do you need?  The history of the NBA tells us that when a team trades a superstar they never get fair compensation, but in 2010 if a NBA team offered the Cavs three of the next number one overall picks for James, wouldn’t they have taken that trade?  That seems like more than fair enough compensation to me.  Whose fault is it that the Cavs tried to outsmart the league by taking Anthony Bennett number one last year?

Take the focus away from the number one overall picks for a second.  They also had five other first round picks (Deion Waiters and Tristian Thompson were Lottery picks) since James has left.  Whose fault is it that they drafted Waters with the fourth overall pick in 2012 even though his game clearly didn’t mesh with Irving’s?  Thompson is a decent player, but they drafted him far ahead of Klay Thompson (who would have perfectly complimented Irving), Chandler Parsons and 2014 Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard.  Whose fault it that?

It certainly is not James’ fault, and it is not his responsibility to fix those mistakes either.  With that being said, I could be seeing this whole situation wrong.  Maybe James will go back and be the savior some people want him to be.  I just do not see that happening.  Four straight finals is nothing to sneeze at.  Dwayne Wade has two horrible final games but James had an entire horrible 2011 finals and Wade didn’t abandon him.  James is smarter than that.  I believe he will put his faith in Heat President Pat Riley and owner Mickey Arison to continue to make the team better.

So Cleveland, count your blessings and look forward.  No matter what – “You is Kind, You is Smart, You is Important” (couldn’t resist that line from ‘The Help’).  Oh… good luck in the draft too!

Jack Gotta

Follow Jack on Twitter @JackGotta

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