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Tag:"The Decision"
Posted on: December 1, 2010 8:08 pm
Edited on: December 2, 2010 8:46 pm
 

LeBron James and his Kingdom of Ruin

As the Heat get set to visit Cleveland Thursday night, and the NBA world turns its eyes on a hurt and angry fanbase, we look at the very real dangers and complicated emotions at work as LeBron James returns to the place he once called home.  Posted by Matt Moore



"Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done..."

And lo, what a Kingdom LeBron hath made.

Thursday night, as you may have heard from a few hundred thousand places , LeBron James returns to a very different Cleveland than he left five months ago. Awaiting him tomorrow night will likely be the most hostile crowd in modern NBA history, and that includes the crowd that engaged in a fist fight with Ron Artest amid the stands in Detroit. The Malice in the Palace was a spur of the moment debacle from a heated rivalry. This is an explosive situation that's been under pressure for an entire calendar season with everything from recession stress to the very personal nature of sports fandom, and how it relates to the city of Cleveland slowly raising the temperature higher. The situation James faces tomorrow night is all together more intense and deeply rooted, and considerably more dangerous than any we've seen since free agency began.

There may have been more disgusting outbursts at games in the league's infancy, given the racist overtones that have marked our country and with basketball having been so closely tied with the African American community since its own inception into our culture. But what LeBron meant to Cleveland, and what he means now, has helped to create a powder keg which is complicated by the current economic climate, a half-century old legacy of sports failure for a town whose culture is drenched in sports revelry, and moral values inherent in the middle of our nation. "You just don't do what LeBron did, and you certainly don't do it how he did it," is the prevailing wisdom in Cleveland.

Whether you agree with what James did, or how he did it, or not, the situation remains. Cleveland fans need to vent, to express their disappointment, hurt, and feeling of betrayal. They need closure, but don't feel like they can have it while the party goes on in South Beach, even if it's turned kind of lame and no one knows why Jamiroquai showed up and is DJ'ing. They really feel like they need this. And maybe they do. The real problem here has been the NBA's compliance with making what is already a looming debacle into something altogether worse.

The league could have done their best to maintain damage control on this. They could have scheduled it for a run-of-the-mill Tuesday night early game in January, or even February. Let things go for a while longer, to defuse, and certainly not put it on TNT. As it stands, the NBA has given the world front row seats and put Cleveland on stage, leaning back and saying "So, Cleveland? What have you got?" This situation was going to be volatile no matter where or when it occurred. But it did not have to be promoted, adding more fuel to the fire.

Why is this important? Because for every plea for reasonable behavior from Ohioans, for every demand of some level of decency from a proud and decent fanbase , there is still that concern. Clevelanders aren't denying the possibility of the unspeakable occurring, because they know it is a very real possibility . It's possible that nothing unfortunate will occur, likely even, given the security measures being deployed by the Cavs and the NBA. But there are any number of other scenarios that could occur. LeBron getting pelted with beer is one of the less scary threats. From people rushing the floor to flipping the bus as it tries to leave the arena, to objects which are not soft plastic and liquid being thrown, there is a distinct possibility of something happening Thursday night which could do significant damage on the scale of The Punch or the Malice at the Palace.

Think I'm overreacting? Read the message boards, the comment threads, the Twitter pages. Realize that large groups of people are planning chants which insinuate some of the downright most disgusting rumors this side of a daytime talk show. But really, just get a sense of how much even reasonable Cleveland fans want to see James suffer. They resist their impulses because they are, after all, reasonable people. But many people in attendance will not be. Man of those people will be drinking.

For James, you have to wonder if he's really going to get anything out of this game. He can't feel good about himself in this context. He may not feel bad about himself because of his massive ego, but he almost certainly isn't happy with so many people openly hating him. James has never fed off the boos like Jordan did, like Reggie Miller did, like Kobe Bryant does. He isn't naturally dispositioned towards anger. He's drawn to laughter and clowning. Part of him may want to punish Dan Gilbert, but on the other, he's walking into a former home as the most hated man in the state.

All of this gets past the fact that at some level, LeBron James is probably a little scared to go to work tomorrow. It's unfortunate, but it is what it is. No one should have to be scared for their safety to go to work, but there's also no heroism in what James is doing. He created this mess and now he has to live with it. Playing under those circumstances may prove to be more than he can handle, and the Heat aren't playing well to begin with.

As for the game itself? Miami should roll. Mo Williams is better than Carlos Arroyo, but it's not leagues. J.J. Hickson is better than Bosh in muscle but not skill. Dwyane Wade and LeBron James are obviously superior to their counterparts and neither team has a legitimate center. That said, that hasn't stopped the Heat from playing terribly at times, nor from Cleveland playing better than expected. And if ever there was an opportunity for an emotional lift, the Cavs may have it. A win would endear this team to the city like no playoff appearance or All-Star birth could. This is all they want, to see the once and never King broken on their home floor, with their venom raining down upon him.

This is Dan Gilbert, fanning the flames and playing the victim while he himself is partially responsible and continues to get rich off the misery.

This is a Heat team wholly unprepared for the vitriol they have inspired the world over, and especially in a quiet Midwestern city.

This is a group of professionals for the Cavaliers who just happen to be caught in the crossfire.

This is a superstar who could have been the next great nexus of talent, fame, and popularity.

This is a fanbase torn and driven to extremes, rising up not as one, but as a stadium full of individuals venting their very personal rage to their former idol.

This is LeBron's Kingdom of Ruin. Long it may reign.

For more coverage of Thursday night's Cavaliers versus Heat game: 


Ken Berger is on the scene describing the mood as the stage is set. 

Gregg Doyel doesn't want Cleveland to give the world the satisfaction by acting out of character. 

Berger also breaks down the tampering charges being pursued by Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, and we try to put them into context

Zydrunas Ilguaskas is pleading for the fans to keep perspective

YouReact with tomorrow's headlines for the game. 

More links in today's Shootaround
Video of LeBron James being booed as he takes the court.
Video of LeBron James being booed during introductions.
Video of LeBron James tossing the chalk.
Posted on: October 12, 2010 3:07 pm
 

Brent Barry lays it out regarding "The Decision"

Former NBA guard and NBATV analyst says he's getting tired of hearing everyone's thoughts on the subject they all say they're sick of.
Posted by Matt Moore

You're probably tired of all the talk of LeBron, already. You were probably worn out on the free agent bonanza well before "The Decision" (but you still tuned in!). But imagine if you were involved in the NBA, worked on NBATV and were a former player. Imagine having to be asked about it every single day for the past three months, while everyone decides to talk about how they too felt that it was gross and not cool at all. Now you've got an idea of what Brent Barry has put up with this summer.

In an interview with NBA blog The No Look Pass, Barry lays out an exactingly well-reasoned approach to the question of talking about "The Decision" and what's worse, LeBron's production or everyone wanting to chime in on the subject:

"I'm actually getting tired of hearing of what everybody thought about it. But I'll give you my two cents' worth. Obviously, the production of it was a little bit too much. I'm still wondering if I'm more upset about the production of the decision part or the post-production in Miami and the show they put in the arena that was a little bit tough to swallow, too. But I don't fault LeBron for doing what it is that he did and wanting to go someplace else and having the opportunity to play with great players. What you kind of play for is to try to win championships and nobody wins them alone. Every year at the end of the season, we talk about great teams and how players step up as role players. Usually the teams in the past 10-15 years it's always been a collection of three or four star players. That's certainly what they have in Miami and they're going to have that for many years to come. We'll see how quickly they can assemble themselves and if they can actually do it in their first year."

Barry's on target here, in a number of ways. For how obnoxious "The Decision" was, hearing everyone constantly reference it and how much it bothered them has become infinitely more annoying. It's like NBA hipsters have taken over the land and are constantly complaining that your parents keep serving them beef. Go somewhere else for dinner, you filthy ruffian! It's also nice to hear Barry, never considered the alpha dog, not taking the easy bait and going after James for "tarnishing his legacy" or whatever ridiculous nonsense is being spouted about a guy who basically just took a different job offer.

Cleveland fans have every right to feel as torn and upset as they want, to constantly revile LeBron for ditching them on national television and damaging their team, their economy, and their self-esteem. But Barry's right in that nothing James is doing is beyond reason or comprehension, and with the season starting, maybe the rest of us should just accept it without admiration and get on to watching the game.
Posted on: October 8, 2010 5:09 pm
 

LeBron gives Cleveland lovely parting gift

"Decision" revenue donated to charity as promised, with proceeds partially going to Cleveland Boys and Girls club, up to $160,000.
Posted by Matt Moore


Say what you want, but LeBron is a man of his word.

Okay, just about one thing, but still. It's something. James pledged to donate all the sponsorship dough pulled in from "The Decision," a little television special you may have heard of, to the Boys and Girls Club of America. The special where he tore the heart out of Cleveland while it was still beating generated $3 million in revenue, all of which is going to various clubs across the country. Including... the Boys and Girls Club of Cleveland. DUNH-DUNH-DUNH .

Fox 8 in Cleveland reports that James will donate $160,000 plus computers and Nike gear to the Cleveland chapter of the charity for youngsters. Akron, Miami, Chicago, LA, and New York also received portions. But it's a good will move that will likely, well, probably do nothing. This was something good James did, and he hasn't committed a crime, but for some reason what he did has turned people's stomachs enough to be stuck against him for the forseeable future. The best way to turn the tide in his favor? Bring home a ring with his talents back to South Beach. Not that that will make Cleveland feel any better. They're probably, and rightfully, clamoring for the Club to use the money for new toilets or something. Or maybe to pay for a new landfill for all his Cleveland merchandise.

"The Decison" will go down in infamy as one of the worst PR moves in all of sports. But the fact remains that he took an opportunity to expand his brand, reached across to casual non-sports fans and made an impact, and raised $3 million for charity. Not bad for nine words.
 
 
 
 
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