Five Reasons LeBron Is Going to Cleveland (According to a Clevelander)
Photo by Keith Allison
Well hell, this is getting out of hand. Miami megastar LeBron James is gargling over his free agency options, and us lugs are camping out on our duffs all day, sweating and refreshing Twitter every 30 seconds or so. And what makes it all worse, for those of us from Cleveland, is that we've been here before. Straight shot of deja vu.
Time-warp back to the summer of 2010, when the is-he-isn't-he about LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers shaved a couple years off the life expectancy of most Ohio sports fans. Not only are Miami fans going through their own gut-grinding version of this anxiety now, but the same binary -- sunny South Beach or Rust Belt chic Cleve -- is again on the table, according to the sports media cycle. No one knows what's going to happen, or everyone knows what's going to happen. But rest assured, Heat fans. I'm here to brief you on the five reasons why LeBron will soon be boarding the bus back to Cavstown.
And let me pre-empt you: yup, I'm from Ohio, but I've packed up my Decision-related ill will and stacked it away with the rest of my Cleveland sports angst. So I'm coming at this just from an anthropological angle, see.
So here's why LeBron's going to leave you all in the sand.
5. Because this guy says so. You Miami hoops heads -- chowing down on a steady diet of idiot local talk radio and lazy daily beat writers who somehow still have jobs despite getting scooped by national media at Every Single Turn -- might not realize that there is an OG on the current LeBron-to-CLE talk: Josh Teplitz . . . who is . . . um . . . uh . . . ?
Exactly. Teplitz is the Cleveland-based personal trainer (and street wear model) who began blasting out his LeBron-coming-home scenario over the holiday weekend. Claiming he has insider knowledge on the free agency, Teplitz is either a no-name prognosticator who will be carried on the shoulders of Clevelanders in a Euclid Avenue parade, or the evilest troll in sports history. But here's the catch: he's behind the curve. For the last four years, you couldn't swing around in Cleveland without bumping into someone with the "inside track" on "LeBron coming back" to "make it right." They. Were. Everywhere. So why believe Teplitz? Well, the dude is just so damn sure . . .
4. Because LeBron's Agent is a Homer. By all accounts LeBron's agent, Rich Paul, is a huge Northeast Ohio homer. You're misconstruing the term if you think it just means someone who's proud of his or her hometown. If you're not from a region that's just one more economic downturn away from nuclear winter, it's going to be hard for to understand the mindset. It's the motherland, right or wrong. They're like Kamikazes riding one-way vectors of hometown pride, eschewing all evidence and logic to the contrary of their central, cement tenant: that [Fill in the blank shitty metro area] is a tough town with guts and real people and a couple breaks away from a rebound. Paul has reportedly been steering the LeBron-back-home story. Also, newsflash: LeBron is a homer, 330-ride-or-die, too (as is his wife).
Never underestimate the insane love of a true homer.
3. Because Pat Riley Kind of Sucks As a GM (LOL Danny Granger). Yup, he's got all those rings, his name in the Hall-of-Fame, and is one of the best coaches in hoops history. But you can't ignore the fact that nothing Riley has ever done as a GM has been particularly revelatory or ground-breaking. Juggling cap space to sign up the Big Three Machine was deft, but once it got going, Riley could sit back and watch, adding a player here or there (and really, how tough was that? To ask a journeymen like Ray Allen if he wanted to come play with the three best players in the league? Tough sell). But now the mileage on the Big Three machine has taken it's toll (see: Spurs). Shabazz Napier was a solid, yet uninspired, move. Josh McRoberts -- good pick up. But then . . . Danny Granger?
2. Because despite two rings, four MVPs, and an all-around reputation as a great guy, LeBron's image is still dinged up. It's something Heat fans don't understand (why would you? He's your champ, that's how it should be, enjoy him) but outside of Florida, LeBron isn't liked. His favorability still struggles on a national scale. Think about it. He shouldn't have 49 states rooting for his defeat. He should be acknowledged for what he is -- the best player of his generation . . . possibly ever. But LeBron can't shake the haters, his rep is still skunky with the bad after-taste of the Decision and the villain-ish boasts of the Big Three. This was not the character arch LeBron Inc. had envisioned.
The NBA is a business that prints money on the basis of story. Everyone yanking the strings -- players, GMs, agents, and (most importantly) the big money advertisers -- know this. The better the story, the better the payday. And what makes a better story? LeBron stays? Naw, LeBron forsakes sunny South Beach for the eternal twilight of Cleveland, where he wrestled with the other NBA giants to bring home a championship to the impoverished people of his homeland.
And yes, that's also the plot of the Hunger Games trilogy.
1. Because nobody knows what the fuck is going on, ergo, chaos. Listen. In all reality, there are about a dozen good reporters covering the NBA. If you actually pay attention to sports reporting, not the noisemakers, you know who they are. These guys have been pretty open -- public and privately -- about not knowing what the fuck is going to happen, so . . . who knows? LeBron could stay. LeBron could go to Cleveland. LeBron could go to Houston. Bosh could go to Houston. Wade could retire. WHO KNOWS.
And that's why you all should tune in tomorrow for the second part in this series: Five Reasons LeBron Isn't Going to Cleveland (According to a Clevelander).
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