As we await another day for the decision from LeBron James, the extra time might be enough for the NBA's top player to step away from all the emotions and any advice from his camp, friends, and yes even family. He needs to start thinking for himself and, hopefully, more logically and rationally.
If he hasn't made up his mind then, we can only imagine what Pat Riley told him yesterday in their meeting. We can only assume at some point he told LeBron how the Heat can build their roster around him to be able to secure a fifth straight year of East dominance all the way to the NBA Finals.
Looking at the Cleveland Cavaliers, aside from so many pundits convinced it's the best choice for LeBron James because it's an intriguing story of redemption (or whatever), is it really his best destination?
A team with more questions than any real, tangible benefits that can win now, certainly not more than what the Heat can offer now.
Players with talent, youth, and potential, all enticing factors sure, but completely and utterly unproven in the game's biggest moments, to say nothing of the postseason. Lots of people are somehow dismissing the fact that it hasn't exactly been very positive over in Cleveland since LeBron left. For as many lottery picks that the Cavs are amassing year after year (for a reason), none has been a home run. There's a reason why they underwhelmed and flat-out disappointed last season.
Kyrie Irving hasn't led his team with all of his talents to anything of importance, with multiple reports last season about his pouting, sulking nature with each loss and his quarrels with Dion Waters and others. Worse, at 22 he isn't as much of a sure thing health-wise as you may think he is over Dwyane Wade. After only playing 11 games for Duke, the franchise player has missed 65 out of a possible 246 regular season games (remember, zero playoff games so far) for a variety of injuries.
Bleacher Report took the time to catalog a few of them...
His laundry list of ailments include a concussion, sprained right shoulder,broken hand, broken index finger, fractured jaw, hyperextendedknee, sprained left shoulder, right nasal fracture and bruised knee.
So just about every part of his body is breaking down at his young age. Just what you want for $90 million over five years.
As nice of an offensive talent he is, his defense won't exactly be helping the team with or without LeBron next season and further beyond if he can't improve. From the same B/R article, they note, "the only time Cleveland's defensive rating drops below 100 is when he's off the floor (99.5)." Don't expect Waiters to help much on that side of the floor either. If LeBron was frustrated at times with Mario Chalmers, we'd hate to see what happens if he chooses to put up with the Cavs growing pains.
Here's an Anthony Bennett update.
He can dunk with no one defending him in Summer League practice. Maybe he'll show some promise from being a #1 overall pick but it's going to be on his terms at his own pace.
Maybe sticking with your best buddy with three rings and who is still an efficient scorer and solid team player is the best course of action. If he truly craves working with younger players, his favorite player in the draft Shabazz Napier is ready to learn. Already in his 30s now, can LeBron afford to take the time it will take to build anything meaningful in Cleveland or stick with the plan in Miami that has already netted him two rings? Everything he wanted in Miami has happened: rings, MVP trophies and a ridiculous, awe-inspiring winning streak to boot.
The Cavs could conceivably try to get Kevin Love and that would certainly upgrade their roster. He's also someone who has never played a single game in the playoffs, in any of his six NBA seasons.
They have a coach who has coached more NBA games than you or me. David Blatt seems to have coached every European team before taking this job. If he's so good why did all these clubs keep letting him go? Let's not forget, this is an organization who said goodbye to Mike Brown not once, but twice since 2010.
Last but not least, an owner in Dan Gilbert who scorned, judged, and ridiculed his former favorite player, in Comic Sans mind you. Everything seemed to be fine when LeBron was making his team more valuable but Gilbert had nothing but hateful words to say after the decision. Someone who didn't even bother to remove his pathetic open letter on the official Cavs website until just days ago.
- "Our former hero, who grew up in the very region that he deserted this evening." (Even though he continued to live in his Akron home and host various charitable functions every offseason.)
- A "narcissistic", whose free agency decision was blasted as "a self-promotional build-up" unlike "anything ever 'witnessed' in the history of sports and probably the history of entertainment." (Of course, he only had a problem with the Decision when LeBron uttered the words "South Beach" and he wouldn't have a problem with the 2014 sequel if LeBron decides to go there.)
- Assuring he and his Cavs have not "betrayed you nor NEVER will betray you...You simply don't deserve this kind of cowardly betrayal."
- LeBron's decision to play for the Heat was "a shameful display of selfishness and betrayal by one of our very own."
- Apparently enacting some sort of hex that delivered LeBron and the city of Miami two straight NBA championships and four Eastern Conference Championships in four years: "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."
He then spent hundreds of thousands of dollars and resources on an investigation into whether the Heat and LeBron broke any rules and tampered with free agency, the results of which have never seen the light of day. Gilbert then discounted LeBron's fathead to $17.41, the year of Benedict Arnold's birth. Childish stuff from an NBA owner.
A hypocrite and as two-faced as they come, who blasts one person, only because of his skills on the court, for not being loyal but had no issue recently firing Mike Brown (to clarify, the first time in 2010 not in 2014) and general manager Danny Ferry despite their 66.3% winning percentage over the previous five seasons.
Gilbert only had issues with LeBron as a man solely when he decided not to play for him, and now that there's even the slightest chance he could come back and save his franchise everything is okay now. No worries about his "narcissistic" character or how "cowardly" he is as long as LeBron wins games for HIS team and makes HIS franchise more profitable.
Well, at the very least they deleted the letter from their site!
Instead of promises and mea culpas, the Heat offer a proven, championship-winning formula that's installed in every facet of their organization.
One that doesn't just talk about loyalty but actually practices it.
The franchise, team president, owner and head coach who helped make him a better player but above all else a better person. At a time when it seemed like everyone, led by his former fans in Cleveland, insulted him and wished him and his new team and their supporters nothing but misfortune.
"I'm a winner, that's all that matters, " LeBron said last year. "I want to win. I'm in a position right now where that's all I think about. I'm very comfortable in my surroundings. I love my teammates. I love the organization in Miami. So that's where I am right now."
More words from LeBron himself.
"It doesn't guarantee us anything," he said it his MVP award presentation last year. "It doesn't guarantee us a championship...or wins. But I think our team is very special. In our sport and in our profession, a lot comes with it. It's mentally draining, it can be physically draining and there can be times when you don't want to show up to work. But when you have a group of guys like we have, we all buy into one thing and that's winning and sacrificing for one another. But we also enjoy each other so when you wake up we're like, 'I can't wait to get there so I can see D-Wade or I can see Ray (Allen) or I can see Rashard (Lewis) or Rio.'
"And it's vice versa, everyone...we all enjoy each other. We all enjoy being around one another so when we step out on the floor, it's kind of just second nature in the game of basketball and makes it that much easier for us."
Wade, and at times Bosh too, wouldn't be at his side after games to help answer questions from the media like he's preferred to do his entire time in Miami. No longer will Riley's advice and experience from a lifetime of knowledge as an NBA player, coach and executive be there at his disposal. The organization is rock solid and leak-proof, and what will surely be incomparable to what awaits in an entirely new situation with a different staff and teammates. Nothing is a given, but which franchise has a proven record of retooling?
If LeBron wants to leave for a new set of difficult challenges, with an unproven roster and work for Dan Gilbert, the man signing his checks, then so be it. But Miami can only hope he thinks with his head, and his heart.