By Jim Horvath
Over the past year or so, people have asked my opinion concerning the staying or going of Cavaliers superstar LeBron James. For the most part, I’ve withheld my thoughts on the subject for one simple reason:
I wasn’t quite sure.
After getting eliminated from the NBA Playoffs by the Boston Celtics, I believe I’ve finally come to a conclusion:
Something catastrophically wrong occurred sometime over the past week after the Cavaliers’ crushing win over the Celtics on Boston’s home court. That part has been well documented, not just in Cleveland but in the national media as well. There’s no reason to rehash here.
Two personal moments, however, seemed to come to the forefront since last night’s season-ending loss in Boston.
I remember when James was drafted right out of St. Vincent-St. Mary High School. There was a lot of excitement, of course, as the kid from Akron was staying home to, as many said, “save the franchise.”
That week, I went to the area sporting goods stores to see how long it would take for the James jerseys to hit the market. I didn’t see any jerseys, but I did see a full rack of T-shirts with a simple, two-word phrase blazing across the front:
King James? Wow, quite a leap for even this ultra-talented 18-year old phenom. But there it was, the beginning of the mass-marketing campaign that in the following years made James one of the biggest names in sports, not just in Ohio, not just in the United States, but globally.
Still, I couldn’t help but be taken aback at the self-adulation. He hadn’t even played one minute in the NBA, but was already proclaiming himself as the King.
Let’s fast forward to last year. A friend of mine, in his mid-to-late twenties, was proclaiming that James had finally surpassed Michael Jordan as the “game’s greatest player.” I, of course, took the opposite stance, stating the James, while physically gifted, had yet to attain the same status.
Well, the argument continued for about a half an hour (or so it seemed) until everyone pretty mush agreed that nobody was going to agree.
After watching the Cavaliers’ last two games, I feel a sense of vindication.
Don’t get me wrong. I would have loved to see James continue the onslaught he brought upon the Celtics that Friday night in Boston. But no matter what the reason, there was no sighting of anything resembling a king in the proceeding two games.
Even after Game Six, James was willing to talk about “his team” when asked about his impending free agency. “His team,” of course, meant his immediate friends and business associates, not his actual teammates. He assured the media that “his team” had a game plan in place heading into the summer months.
What about your actual teammates, LeBron? Didn’t you find it a bit inappropriate to comment on free agency right after one of the worst defeats in team history? Right after the No. 1 seeded team in the East was eliminated in the conference semifinals? While your Cavalier teammates were, undoubtedly, still hurting after another early playoff ouster?
Well, it seems like all this talk about wanting to bring a championship to Cleveland was more about words than anything. Actions always speak louder, and those actions spoke quite loudly out on the court this week.
We were all witnesses, indeed.