By now, you all know where the “King” has relocated his kingdom. His Heat jersey is already a hot item while the Cleveland faithful are putting a different kind of heat on his former 23 that he donned for seven years in Ohio. LeBron James is now a member of the Miami Heat (brought to you by Vitamin Water) and a shift in the NBA has just occurred during a one-hour ESPN broadcast (brought to you by Vitamin Water).
“The Decision” (brought to you by Vitamin Water) is something we have never seen before. No player has had the audacity to televise a decision like this since Kobe Bryant announced he was going pro. It’s a move that might change the way the NBA works behind closed doors. The Wade Summit has shown that the power of the NBA has shifted right into the hands of the players. The wheeling and dealing of agents and owners no longer has the same weight it had before. If the big guys want to win, it’s going to be on their own terms. In this era of the no-trade clause, players are in control. Even down to the television announcement (brought to you by Vitamin Water), ESPN wasn’t even controlling the revenue. Instead, the decision (brought to you by Vitamin Water) was controlled by LeBron’s very own marketing group, LRMR Marketing.
Basketball is business and for those of us that thought it was anything else, we were wrong. It was assumed that with a shrinking cap and expiring contracts, a new NBA would eventually form with players playing for less with greater chances to win championships. Some would take salary cuts so teams could afford them and other high-caliber players. Instead, the cap rose by almost half a million more then we expected and the the opposite happened. Joe Johnson saw his payday with Atlanta and so did Carlos Boozer with the Bulls. Even Amar’e “no offensive rebound” Stoudemire saw a payday with the Knicks that is ultimately building the laziest tour de force in NBA history.
This non-shift left LeBron able to make a decision (brought to you by Vitamin Water) based on the model that has been set up in the last few seasons and go with a team for both money and star power as opposed to taking necessary pay cuts so Cleveland could make a move for an additional star. This decision (brought to you by Vitamin Water) now falls in line with the Celtics major team build of Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce along with the Lakers’ rebuilding with Pau Gasol, Ron Artest, Kobe Bryant and Jordan Farmar (just kidding Jordan). The “Load-Up” effect is still in business as well it should be. It has proven to be the quickest way to a title ever. The Celtics went 24–58 in the season before winning the title and if the Bulls had not been so persistant on holding onto Luol Deng, Kobe would have been traded to Chicago just two seasons before back-to-back championships with LA. Now, we have the Heat (brought to you by Vitamin Water). This new model strays from the former model of teams building around a mixture of upcoming stars (B.J. Armstrong), veterans (John Paxson), big men (Horace Grant), roll players (Scotty Pippen) and all stars (Michael Jordan). Teams like the Spurs over the last few seasons, the 04 Pistons and even the LUCKY Miami Heat of 06 won’t carry as much weight as they used to. Chemistry is being thrown out the window. Now, it’s a team built around three stars, a few offensive specialist, a mediocre point guard and a bench full of nothing but trash (Go ahead, look at the benches of LA, Boston and the Magic over the last few seasons. Nothing).
In addition, this move adds to the All-Star flight effect. Karl Malone can truly be blamed for starting this trend but it’s prevalent now more than ever. Ray Allen left the lovable losers in Seattle. Kevin Garnett left the frozen tundra of Minnesota. Pau Gasol left a Grizzlies team that is 0-16 in playoff games. Ron Artest left multiple teams that have histories of doing nothing but falling short. Meanwhile, Chris Bosh is leaving a Toronto team that has become nothing but a revolving door for mediocre talent as general manager Brian Colangelo is trying to relocate Italian basketball to Canada (Brian, Mike D’antoni tried that in Arizona. Good luck). Dwyane Wade has been surrounded by nothing but trash since 06 as well. Then there’s LeBron. LBJ was in Cleveland for seven seasons. That’s seven drafts, seven free agencies and seven trade deadlines. That’s seven chances to get it right and they still fell short. LeBron made this very apparent in the Decision (brought to you by Vitamin Water). Danny Ferry brought in names like Mo Williams, Antawn Jamison and Shaquille O’Neal and that was AFTER they had made the Finals and got swept by the Spurs. They never even made it out of the Eastern Conference Finals again after those signings. Firing Ferry and Mike Brown at the beginning of this free agency made it even more apparent that Cleveland had no idea how to run a team. LeBron and new GM Chris Grant do not get along and Byron Scott has shown that he is a control freak that doesn’t do well coaching high-caliber players. In addition, their only appeal to LeBron was “this is home.” However, what is a home that was never built properly around you? Would you feel “at home” with a team that brought in players like Delonte West, Anthony Parker and Jamario Moon? Would you feel “at home” with an owner that didn’t even involve you in the decision for head coach? Obviously, LeBron felt dejected.
Now, Cavs fans are burning jerseys in the streets and owner Dan Gilbert is denouncing LBJ as “a traitor to the organization that did so much to keep him.” Gilbert has even gone as far to say that LeBron quit in the playoffs last season in a series loss to the Celtics.
“He quit. Not just in Game 5, but in Games 2, 4 and 6. Watch the tape. The Boston series was unlike anything in the history of sports for a superstar.”
-Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert
Dan has even been quoted saying that the Cavs will win a Championship before Lebron does on the Heat (brought to you by Vitamin Water). Even Orlando Magic GM Otis Smith has criticized James’ Decision (brought to you by Vitamin Water). Smith stated that he believed that LeBron was more of a “competitor” and that “all the great ones did it on their own.”
Regardless, we still have a lot to see and the Heat don’t even have a full roster. This signing frees up everyone else as well. Now the Bulls, Nets, Cavs and Knicks know where they stand and what they need to pursue in other free agents. The wait is over and we know who LeBron James will be playing for but there is still a lot to see. This decision (brought to you by Vitamin Water) reinforces a new kind of NBA. Hopefully it will be for the better. Teams like Dallas, Orlando, LA and Boston now know where the power is and must make the adjustment. We don’t know how they will do this but one thing is for sure, they will all be dreading road trips to South Beach.