LeBron James To Leave Cleveland Ha?


LeBron James To Leave Cleveland Ha?
M.D. Wright
5.24.09

Cleveland Stans (Stalker Fans who are beyond irrational when it comes to James) like to lie to themselves and construct lists stating the reasons they believe LeBron James will remain in Cleveland as a Cavalier beyond the 2009-2010 season. I never really thought he was going to. Even the new deal with the Chinese Investors coming to buy a stake in the team is not going to make a difference. If anything, that is about Cavs owner Dan Gilbert and lining HIS pockets. Remember, the name of the arena the Cavs play in is named after the company Gilbert owns: “Quicken Loans Arena”. Quicken Loans relied heavily upon Interest-Only mortgages. Anyone with a TV and CNN knows that the real estate market was plagued by such mortgages. That stuff is coming home to roost. There is nothing Cleveland can possibly do to keep LeBron in Cleveland if he really wants to leave for greener pastures.

Now let’s tackle the hardline, on-the-court issues that people continue trying to pound into the ground (and this Orlando Eastern Conference Final series is exposing).

A lot of Cavalier fans/Knick haters like to tell themselves and anyone who listen that “there’s no reason for LeBron to leave. He loves it here. He’s embedded in the community.” Blah blah blah. That hasn’t stopped any of the players before him from leaving and heading to teams that offer him more money and afford them even MORE exposure. Name a Cleveland Plain-Dealer writer.

I’ll wait.

Now name a sports writer for one of the New York papers. You don’t even have to read the Daily News, Newsday, the Times or the Post to name 3-5 of them. Madison Avenue is four blocks away. You have Broadway. You have everything to make LeBron James a global icon (his stated goal). As much as people know and love LeBron as is, KOBE BRYANT AND YAO MING (respectively) still lead the NBA in global jersey sales. Let’s not forget that. People in China love Kobe and YAO. LeBron will lift his image and profile in New York. I say New York and not Los Angeles, because the Lakers are cap-strapped and would have to gut the team of players they need to win in order to get LeBron. Besides, Kobe is the ultimate Alpha Dog and that wouldn’t work. LeBron wants no part of Detroit, that’s a lateral/BACKWARD move (if you’re rational, it is CLEARLY the latter), so Piston fans can keep dreaming. The Pistons are eyeing Stoudemire or Bosh, anyway. Chicago would be a good fit, but they are set to lose Ben Gordon, their leading scorer and don’t even have the players this current Cavalier team has.

Now, to the people who say “why would he go to that joke of a franchise in disarray?” (New York Knicks) Chew on this. Isiah Thomas and his circus have rolled out of town. Jimmy Dolan has gone back behind the scenes (face it, even some Knick fans didn’t know he owned the team LONG before they started uttering his name about firing Layden and subsequently Thomas). Now that he’s back where he belongs, new GM Donnie Walsh can do his job. Walsh brought Reggie Miller to the Pacers and built the Pacers into perennial contenders in the 1990s.

Look at the Cavs roster and look at the Knicks’. Put LeBron on the 2008-2009 Knicks and the Knicks go from 32-50 to 60-22. Conversely, the Cavs go back to being a 27-34 win team without him with the SAME CURRENT players. With a couple more matchup advantages and better scorers in Al Harrington and David Lee, the Knicks are a better team with LeBron than the Cavs are, top to bottom. Consider this:

2008-2009 Cavs regulars:
F- LeBron James
F- Anderson Vareao
C- Zydrunas Ilgauskas
G- Delonte West
G- Maurice Williams
F- Wally Szczerbiak
F- Ben Wallace
G- Daniel Gibson
G/F- Sasha Pavlovic
F- Joe Smith

This team won 67 games. Half of them on the strength of having LeBron. As they are currently proving in losing to the Magic in the Eastern Conference Finals, they aren’t a clutch team at all. Save for one game-winning shot by James. The rest of these guys are role players.

2008-2009 Knicks regulars:
F- Al Harrington (great scorer, can get 30 every night)
F- David Lee (double-double machine — as in 18 and 12)
C- Eddy Curry (a joke, but so is Ilgauskas right now)
G- Wilson Chandler (showed flashes of what he did at DePaul, very solid all around, long future in the NBA)
G- Chris Duhon (no worse than anyone on Cleveland right now, and runs coach Mike D’Antoni’s system to perfection)
F- Danilo Gallinari (a healthy Gallo is Dirk 2.0)
G- Nate Robinson (better than anyone on Cleveland’s backcourt)
G/F- Quentin Richardson (basically useless, as is Wally)
F- Chris Wilcox (young Joe Smith)
G- Larry Hughes (played with LeBron before, can score better than anyone on Cleveland not named James)
F- Jared Jeffries (Varejao)

Throw in a #8 pick this year, a free agent who can make a difference in 2009-2010 and TONS of cap space with Stephon Marbury gone and a couple of current contracts coming off the books, and the Knicks can upgrade at Guard and Forward in 2010-2011 ALONG WITH James and the Knicks are instantly the best team in the East. DO NOT use the current Knicks (or the 2001-2008 teams for that matter) cloud your perception of the future. The Knicks are not far from contending at all. The Celtics are aging before our eyes, Miami is aging at the wrong positions and too young in most vital positions. The Bulls are on the cusp, but missing a legitimate shooting guard who plays both ways (and inside scoring).

Keep this in mind this offseason if James DOESN’T re-sign with Cleveland and if he DOES sign with the Knicks (maybe even through a sign-and-trade with protected draft picks and a couple of coveted players (such as David Lee) in 2010-2011.

Not saying it will happen, because I’m not in his head. But let’s get back to reality: this Cleveland outfit is not a great team and they’re not put together well enough to make LeBron say “hey, I want to stay here after all”. These are not the ’81-’87 Celtics, or ’88-’90 Pistons, or ’92-’98 Bulls, or ’80-’90 Lakers. And since they are not, talking about lineups, Chinese Investors, how close LeBron’s house is in proximity to downtown blah blah blah is just that: BLITHER.

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