The Summer of 2010
Hometown kid went to school in the area, got drafted by the hometown NBA team, tests the free agent market in the Summer of 2010 and meets with Jay Z and the Russian Billionaire. Decides, it is a better opportunity to join another NBA team than re-signing with his former team. All of the region is saddened by the departure of said athlete. No it isn’t LeBron James going from the Cavaliers to the Heat; it is Jordan Farmar going from his beloved Lakers to the New Jersey Nets.
Jordan Farmar signs with the New Jersey Nets for 3 years, 12 million dollars
(courtesy of SportsUntapped.com)
Speaking of LeBron James and the fiasco that was the Free Agent Summer of 2010, let’s recap what happened:
- The Cavaliers had the Best Regular Season record in the NBA this last year (it had been the second year in a row that they had had the best regular season record in the NBA)
- The Cavaliers flamed out against the Celtics, the Celtics were just too much for an undermanned Cavalier team with no real big man inside or anyone to score from the field other than James.
- The Cavaliers courted Tom Izzo from Michigan State University; he declined after 2 weeks of “thinking” about it.
- The Cavaliers fire Mike Brown and Danny Ferry (Ferry stepped down, but we all know what that was about.)
- The Cavaliers get “burned” by all of the major Free Agents leading up to the LeBron announcement. (Dirk resigns, Joe Johnson resigns, Wade/Bosh don’t want to play in Cleveland, Boozer looks like he is going to Chicago at the time, Blake signs with Lakers, Duhon signs with Orlando, etc.)
- Cavaliers hire Byron Scott in hopes that LeBron will stay in Cleveland play for a coach who was a former player.
- LeBron goes on ESPN has an 1 hour special and then tells the Nation that he is going to go and play in Miami with Wade and Bosh.
- All of Cleveland weeps into theie beers and drinks in sadness.
- Dan Gilbert acts like a hormonal teenager that just got dumped by his girlfriend and sends a open letter to the fans of Cleveland ripping James.
- James, Wade and Bosh basically throw a party for the fans in Miami
- Cleveland is left with a team that has won back to back 60 games, yet no Superstar
I will give you the fans of the Cavaliers this: LeBron was a jerk not to inform the Cavaliers a day or two before he announced on LIVE television that he was leaving Cleveland for the Miami Heat.
Saying that though, he didn’t owe you fans anything else than what he gave you. Yes, he was a jerk; but no, he didn’t need to tell anyone anything before hand.
The Cavaliers knew that the possibility of him leaving was more than 50/50. They had to have known that they weren’t the frontrunners in the Free Agent race for the “King”. Chicago was signing Level B+ Free Agents left and right. Miami was letting go of dead salary cap weight frantically for the last three weeks. Dallas re-signed Dirk, Atlanta re-signed Joe Johnson, Memphis went out and signed someone, Washington got Hienrich, Orlando signed Duhon. New Jersey, New York and the Clippers were giving LeBron a Full Court Pressure of presentations all Offseason.
You see what I am getting at Cleveland? During the most important offseason in the HISTORY of the Cavalier franchise, they were the only ones sitting pat and waiting for LeBron to come back. In fact the Cavaliers did the opposite of other teams. They fired their Head Coach and had their General Manager “step down”. They courted Tom Izzo for 2 (almost 3 weeks). When they finally did go out and hire Byron Scott it was like days before LeBron was going to announce. THEN to top it all off the owner of the team, Dan Gilbert (who by the way criticized the “King” like a mere peasant during the Boston-Cleveland series for “dogging” it.) comes out like a scorned teenage lover and sends an “Open Letter” to the fans of Cleveland. Yet somehow (hmmm, wonder how) it gets leaked to the National Media and it is displayed for the world to see. Even teams like the Lakers and the Magic signed free agents to add to their depth.
Clevelanders everywhere you know that the person that did the least in all of this is your native son and former hero: LeBron James. You know that you aren’t necessarily mad at LeBron for going to Miami. You are mad because you hoped that James would overlook the wasteland that is the Cavalier franchise and come back to right the ship.
That is very selfish of you Cleveland. The man is 25 years old. He GAVE you 7 years of his career trying to make the Cavaliers a viable franchise in the NBA. What did the franchise give James back in return? Did they give him a running mate (Scottie, Worthy, Kenny Smith, McHale/Parrish) that could alleviate the pressures? Did they give him a big man (Wilt, Kareem, Younger Shaq, Perkins, Alonzo Mourning, Carlos Boozer? [we will get to him shortly]) that could control the paint so that they couldn't just lock in on James? Did they give him a trustworthy bench/role player (Byron Scott, Kerr, Paxon, Horry) that could be counted on in the clutch, no matter what they were playing like the rest of the time?
The answer is an emphatic “NO!”
Moe Williams is not a running mate for LeBron. Moe Williams is a glorified version of Larry Drew (no offense to Larry, but you know he was a serviceable role player not necessarily a “Top 50 of All Time”). Big Z and Varejao are good but not going to do it. Old Shaq can’t run or play solid half court defense. Boobie Gibson? Sebastian Telfair? Daniel Green? J.J. Hickson? Come on Cavalier fans you should be up in arms right now. You should be burning down the home offices of the Ownership and Presidents of the Cavaliers for failing you.
Did you want LeBron to be the next Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing or even Karl Malone? I thought you guys, “loved” him? Don’t you want what is best for him?
LeBron never lied to you fans. He never pulled a Barry Bonds; he never announced that he wanted to be the Next Mark Price or Brad Daugherty (Sorry Pirate fans, I know it still hurts and you still haven’t recovered from that era, but it was necessary for my point). He never said that he was a Cavalier for life. He did sign a 5 year contract with an option to opt out for free agency after the third year if he so chose to. That means that the Cavaliers had a FULL seven years to try and improve the surroundings for James. SEVEN YEARS!
You know what the Bulls got for Michael Jordan after his sixth year? They had given him: Paxon, Cartwright, Scottie, Horace Grant, Craig Hodges (off the bench), etc. You see what I am saying Cleveland? You should be mad at ownership, not James.
Now getting the point of Carlos Boozer. You should be mad at him as well. Carlos Boozer, during the last year of James’ rookie deal, had a handshake promise with Cavaliers ownership to re-sign to a max deal at the beginning of Free Agency that year. Carlos Boozer, known only to him, went out and signed with the Utah Jazz; they later drafted Deron Williams (and well now he signs another Free Agent deal with the Bulls in 2010). Carlos Boozer would have been the Big Man to complement James. They could have signed one more marquee guy and then the Cavaliers would have been off and running (maybe Pau would have wanted to go to Cleveland if they had a tandem of Boozer and James; maybe Chris Paul would have wanted to go and run with that tandem, who knows). Now it is unfair to say that if Carlos Boozer would have stayed that James wouldn’t have dropped Cleveland like a bad cold. It would have helped though.
Now I know the people in Cleveland are saying:
“What do you know Heckler, you are a Laker fan. What if Kobe would have left during the Kobe turbulent times (before Pau got there) and all you were left with was a good-bye?”
“How could you know what we are going through you root for one of the two most storied franchises in NBA history?”
“Whatever man, you don’t get it, he was one of our own. He was supposed to be better than this. he was supposed to bring a championship back to Cleveland man!”
As a Laker fan, I know this isn’t going to be the most popular notion but, I don’t need to know what you are going through. I have bigger issues to worry about when it comes to the Lakers and my allegiance to them. I worry whether or not Phil Jackson is too old to keep coaching. I worry about whether or not a young coach is still out there on the bench somewhere waiting for a break at the Laker job. I wonder if Kobe is getting too old at the age of 31-32. I wonder if Pau is going to be as hungry as he has been for the last 2 years; or if he is going to regress back to the whinny Spanish wimp that played for Memphis for all those years. I wonder if Lamar Odom is going to not care one day and just quit the game of basketball. I wonder if Fisher is going to be just too old this year; if this is the year that is lack of defense on the perimeter is going to hurt the Lakers in the playoffs. I wonder how the draft picks are going to pan out.
I don’t worry about winning titles until the NBA finals are upon us.
I know. How pretentious of me to go on and on about my Lakers and how they do most things well. Don’t hate me Cleveland fans, hate your franchise for caring about how much they pay to the luxury tax. Hate the Cavaliers for catering to James up to the point of giving his “boys from home” jobs in the organization (they should have been connecting him to Midwestern business men who could elevated his status as a entrepreneur.)
My point is and has always been this Cleveland:
“Don’t cry in your beer because your native son and former hero left town to go play basketball in Miami. Sadly rejoice in the knowledge that James will have problems winning that elusive title in Miami. I mean without 12 guys that constitute a basketball team you can’t field a club. I also promise that they aren’t going to find 9 guys willing to take Veterans Minimum deals that are good enough to win a title.”
Also Cleveland think about this: Why aren’t the Cavaliers franchise already at a place where motivation to win a championship is at a level unimaginable?
“If you thought we were motivated before tonight to bring the hardware to Cleveland, I can tell you that this shameful display of selfishness and betrayal by one of our very own has shifted our "motivation" to previously unknown and previously never experienced levels.”
The above is a little piece of the “Open Letter” from Gilbert to the fans. It sounds to me like they weren’t going forward with full steam ahead before they “lost out” on LeBron. If I were a Cavaliers fan, that segment of the letter would make me the most upset about all of this. I would assume that the above feelings and motivations would already be at those levels. I would hope that the franchise that I love and spend money/time on would be exhausting every resource to win a Championship.
“Winning is not a sometime thing, it's an all time thing. You don't win once in a while, you don't do things right once in a while, you do them right all the time. Winning is habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.”
The Letter (Another 2 word memory that Cleveland will be remembered by)“Dear Cleveland, All Of Northeast Ohio and Cleveland Cavaliers Supporters Wherever You May Be Tonight; As you now know, our former hero, who grew up in the very region that he deserted this evening, is no longer a Cleveland Cavalier. This was announced with a several day, narcissistic, self-promotional build-up culminating with a national TV special of his "decision" unlike anything ever "witnessed" in the history of sports and probably the history of entertainment. Clearly, this is bitterly disappointing to all of us. The good news is that the ownership team and the rest of the hard-working, loyal, and driven staff over here at your hometown Cavaliers have not betrayed you nor NEVER will betray you. There is so much more to tell you about the events of the recent past and our more than exciting future. Over the next several days and weeks, we will be communicating much of that to you. You simply don't deserve this kind of cowardly betrayal. You have given so much and deserve so much more. In the meantime, I want to make one statement to you tonight:
‘I PERSONALLY GUARANTEE THAT THE CLEVELAND CAVALIERS WILL WIN AN NBA CHAMPIONSHIP BEFORE THE SELF-TITLED FORMER ‘KING’ WINS ONE’
You can take it to the bank. If you thought we were motivated before tonight to bring the hardware to Cleveland, I can tell you that this shameful display of selfishness and betrayal by one of our very own has shifted our "motivation" to previously unknown and previously never experienced levels. Some people think they should go to heaven but NOT have to die to get there. Sorry, but that's simply not how it works. This shocking act of disloyalty from our home grown "chosen one" sends the exact opposite lesson of what we would want our children to learn. And "who" we would want them to grow-up to become. But the good news is that this heartless and callous action can only serve as the antidote to the so-called "curse" on Cleveland, Ohio. The self-declared former "King" will be taking the "curse" with him down south. And until he does "right" by Cleveland and Ohio, James (and the town where he plays) will unfortunately own this dreaded spell and bad karma. Just watch. Sleep well, Cleveland. Tomorrow is a new and much brighter day....I PROMISE you that our energy, focus, capital, knowledge and experience will be directed at one thing and one thing only: DELIVERING YOU the championship you have long deserved and is long overdue.... “
(Courtesy of NBA.com/cavaliers/news/gilbert_letter_100708.html)