By: Robert Huff
In the eternal words of D.M.X., “Here we go again”.
As of Sunday at midnight, LeBron James released the words through social media that many around the country (media and fans alike) have hoped, wished, prayed, cajoled, and willed through pure word of mouth and mental determination: He will once again be leaving Northeast Ohio and the Cleveland Cavaliers in free agency.
Only this time it’s even worse in two ways: One – last time he choose Miami and the Cavs were able to work out a sign and trade with the Heat to help ease the pain of having to lose the best player in the league. No such draft pick relief with this deal. Two – He chose Los Angeles, Feeding once again into the “leave the small town” (His Hometown, no less) for the bright lights of the big city narrative.
Now though I wish he would have stayed and helped recruit a better squad around his talents to do battle in the NBA Finals for a fifth-straight year with the Cavs, and ninth individually overall, that was not to be as he will be signing a 4-yr/ $154 million deal with the Lakers.
This brings many thoughts to mind that leave me pondering. Is his decision about the best place to continue chasing that ghost that will define his legacy when his career is over? Just in case you didn’t know who that ghost that I’m speaking of is, it’s Michael Jordan (who won all of his rings with one team, mind you). He is currently half way to tying him at six rings, and has given his pursuit of surpassing his idol a chance every year seemingly by making eight consecutive appearances in the NBA Finals. Only Tommy Heinsohn, Sam Jones, and Bill Russell have been in more as a player.
Which leads to my next question, Is his current roster on the Lakers better than the Cavs team he just lead to the 2018 NBA Finals? Younger? Yes. More talented? I think not. Only time will really be able to answer this question across the length of the 2018-19 NBA season. I do feel the Lakers will finally return to the playoffs for the first time in five years.
But, I also think that the finals streak is over.
Not only has James chosen to go to the harder conference overall but once the playoffs begin, he’ll have to get the Lakers past the Houston Rockets and the back-to-back NBA Champion Golden State Warriors. Or, even worse both of those teams.
My last question is “Is this a better road to tow with the Lakers, rather than with the Cavs?”
Maybe not due to the facts that I just stated here in this article, at least for this season. But in the long run, yes. The Cavs are stuck in cap space purgatory due to the moves they had to make in order to be a contender alongside of James. There is no easy way out of that. The Lakers, meanwhile, have two very alluring offers for future free agents. One – Plenty of cap room to sign another superstar to a max deal alongside James, and two – that sweet California weather.
At the end of the day, James made the best decision for his NBA career, his family, and his possible Hollywood aspirations after his playing days are done. What about the Cavs? Well fans as tough as it is to hear, the truth is in the NBA we have to fall back to the bottom to go back to the top. Tank, and tank fast. Sell off all assets for a better chance in the NBA Lottery (remember the name Zion Williamson, possible #1 overall pick next year). Build a better core for the next few seasons in order to get back into contention.
So, in a nut shell, the answer is to lose resoundingly. Look where it got the Philadelphia 76ers. (Trust the process, right?!)
But let’s not end on a bad note. Instead let’s end on the thoughts of two of the greatest moments in the life of Cleveland Cavalier. The night we won the title in game seven over the supposed “greatest team of all-time” after being down 3-1 in the series, the 73-9 Golden State Warriors and the day all 1.2 million of us fans got to celebrate that championship.
It might take 52 years to win a major championship for Cleveland again. So for that, no hard feelings here unlike in 2010. Good Luck LeBron, and thanks for the memories.
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