LeBron is leaving Miami. LeBron is staying in Miami. LeBron is going to Cleveland. LeBron isn't going to Cleveland. LeBron is LeBron is LeBron is LeBron is . . .
This is a snapshot of the pretzeled thought process of your average hoops fan right now. It's nerve-smashing, torturous, and makes for great Sportscenter. Every burp and sneeze from every anonymous team exec and agent merits a headline or tweet. The latest: LeBron is in Las Vegas, where he's scheduled for a powwow with Pat Riley today. The clock tics on.
Yesterday, your humble servant here, a former longtime Cleveland resident, offered you five reasons LeBron was taking his talents back to Lake Erie. Now, allow me to scoot around to the other side of the table and tell you why LeBron isn't bound back to the Motherland.
5. Because of the weather. This is kind of a low blow in terms of pro and con Cleveland arguments. It's the ultimate trump card. "Yeah, you make a lot of great points . . . but what about the weather [cue scary music]?" But anyone who has lived in Northeast Ohio will tell you that the weather -- and we're talking about the winter -- is bone-crushing and cold, not to mention long, very long. It's enough to make someone stand outside on a nice Florida evening and wonder why they'd ever leave.
4. Because of the Nike-NBA Evil Alliance wants him in Miami. Yesterday I lobbed some serious shade at Pat Riley's GMing. Allow me to expand: Riley might control the cap space and the keys to the tanning bed at Heat HQ, but LeBron answers to a higher power - Nike. Since LeBron inked his first rookie deal with Nike, his career DNA has been spliced with the mega-corporation. Don't think they don't have his ear about future career moves, and if Nike thinks they can sell more swag with LeBron in Miami, they're going to tell him. And he'll listen.
3. Because LeBron lives inside a cocoon of yes men, sycophants, and goobers. Yesterday I also outlined one of the major reasons for why people see LeBron coming home: it's a tidy, clean finish to his storyline and a good way to patch up the damage from the Decision. This would be true -- if LeBron paid any attention to what we plebs think. LeBron is pretty well insulated in his own world, walled off by a tight-knit staff. That was pretty evident four years ago, when the tone-deft approach to the Decision seemed to catch LeBron Co. as a surprise. LeBron could again be completely closed off to any thought about storylines or making good. He might not even realize he has a storyline that needs to be redeemed.
2. Because of Dan Gilbert. Obviously, of all the moneymen holdings the keys to an NBA franchise, Gilbert isn't a frontrunner for worst. But four years ago the infamous Letter gave us a peak inside at his thinking -- and it isn't pretty. Sure, Gilbert had every reason to be sore (then again, he's a billionaire). And LeBron did do him wrong (still, he's a billionaire). But for Gilbert to grab a crayon and blast out an emotional tantrum betrays an entitlement issue and a vicious lack of respect for LeBron's own capacity to choose. It's easy to see why LeBron might not be inclined to hop back into basketball bed with someone like that.
1. Because God Hates Clevelanders. How else do you explain 50 straight years of sports misery?
So there are you five reasons why LeBron won't be putting on the wine and gold again. But if you read this far, I might as well tell you that a guy I know who runs a sports book who knows a guy who runs a blog said he overheard an insider saying LeBron announces today or tomorrow he's going to Cleveland. So . . . it continues.
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