Tag:LeBrocalypse
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 22, 2010 11:15 am
 

Heat Stroke:LeBron empathizes with fans, kind of

LeBron James empathizes with fans' anger, then wipes out any good will acquired by insinuating they should "get over it," then denies on Twitter. Good times.
Posted by Matt Moore

It had to happen sometime. Eventually, LeBron James was going to have to address Cleveland's fans and their visceral reaction to his departure for Southern skies. He was going to have to comment on them and how they feel about him now. Which is to say, he was going to have to comment on the fact that they hate his guts beyond belief. So he did. It did not go well. Here's what James told the ESPN Heat Index's Brian Windhorst about the fans in Cleveland:


"If I was a fan and I was on the outside looking in, I could be upset a little bit if one of my favorite players left," James said. "Or if I felt like he betrayed us or whatever the case may be. But you have to get over it . (Note: Emphasis ours. -Ed.) "
So that definitely comes across as telling Cleveland fans to get over him abandoning them for another team on national television, adding insult to injury, and crushing both their best-contending team and a significant portion of their economy (estimates of up to $250 million per year). Which, you know, probably won't go over well. James, though, was quick to jump on Twitter and backtrack from that sentiment immediately.



So he was just talking about what he would do? I'm confused. Because that quote looks really hard to get around the fact that it sounds like he's talking about Cleveland fans. James went on to explain the gap between the people rooting for laundry, and those that have to wear it.
"Sports are very emotional and fans are very emotional," James said. "At times they really believe you may be related to them you and you sleep in their house. When you do something wrong and you leave their house they can become very emotional. I've understood that over the years. But at the same time, you have to understand you have to do what is best yourself."
James is sounding pretty hurt by all this hatred lately. As I've said before, anger is not really his bag . But for all those that think he didn't care about Cleveland or its fans at all, they should rethink that sentiment. He did make connections there. It was hard for him to leave. He saw an opportunity, and he took it. Maybe it wasn't the "right" thing to do but it was what he felt was right for him, and it's his job, his career, his life. Those of us who are only criticizing him out of our own misguided sense of morality probably should "get over it."

But Cleveland? Nah. They have earned the right to stay mad for as long as they want. That's their right as fans.
Posted on: October 19, 2010 2:36 pm
Edited on: October 19, 2010 2:43 pm
 

LeBron opens up "Hater Day" on Twitter

Heat Triad superstar opens up "Hater Day" on Twitter, laughing at opponents. We all want to know where the anger is, despite never having evidence it's there at all. Posted by Matt Moore



No, seriously, LeBron James is not bothered by your hatred of him. Today on Twitter, James (@KingJames ) took to his plethora of haters, declaring today "Hater Day." He ain't mad at you, though, haters:




This is what's called, playing to the crowd. In the overused-to-a-sickening-degree professional wrestling analogy, this is saying something derogatory about the city you're currently performing in. It's a definite thumb-bite to the plebian crowds throwing tomatoes. And it's also telling.

There's this narrative trying to be built for James where he finally gets angry at everyone hating on him, all the doubters, all the critics, and responds with anger on the floor leading to a dominant stretch. James has bought into this whole thing, talking about "making a list" and being focused on proving people wrong. But this latest gag on Twitter seems more indicative of James' personality. That is, he just doesn't take much seriously. He doesn't have to.

He's a 25 year-old player making $14.5 million dollars this season, $109.8 million total during this contract . He has two sons, now plays in South Beach, parties with Jay-Z, gets financial advice from Warren Buffet, runs clubs like he owns them in Vegas , His life may not be perfect. But it's pretty close. And besides that, James simply isn't disturbed by these things. There's been no evidence of him getting angry with players or personnel. He may sulk, he may disapprove, but anger? It has never been part of the persona he's let us see. If he's capable of genuine anger at any above-normal level, it's never been exhibited. (This in comparison with Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett who are essentially two red tea kettles blowing steam on the court constantly.)

Instead James has always reflected a happy go-lucky playful nature. He dances with teammates. He raps on-court (and in the locker room, loudly). He chuckles in interviews and smiles for the camera. This man is not a brooder. Even after a Finals loss and subsequent ejections in the playoffs, including the Conference Finals, James has never lashed out, never kicked an object out of anger, even. Think about that. Dirk Nowitzki has him beat in the "public display of frustration" angle. When the Cavs were ousted by Boston, James hugged KG then took off his jersey for the last time as a Cavalier. This is not a man fueled by rage and hatred, but by one looking to expand his empire and brand.

What's odd is that this is a criticism. If you or I acted like we want start to in our workplaces? We'd get sent home or to anger management classes. We'd question how seriously we take things and try and gain some perspective on what's important in life. But for athletes, we demand more. We demand a thirst for blood, for vengeance. And James has not fulfilled that, not in his play, and not with his actions. We want our player to seethe at the nasty things said to them on Twitter, or ignore them as being above it. Not to indulge in playful banter with them. James is not who we want him to be, and that's really been and continues to be his biggest crime.

Laughing off his haters while he retweets their misdirected, misguided, over-the-top anger towards a man they don't know at all? That's par for the course, and part of the reason his trip to Cleveland on December 2nd is far more dangerous than the media, league, or Heat understand. There's only one thing that makes a brokenhearted, jersey-burning crowd even more angry. When the "traitor" laughs in their face. And that's what will happen. It's just how James is.

Somehow I think "Hater Day" is going to wind up being "Hater Year."

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Posted on: September 20, 2010 10:11 pm
Edited on: September 20, 2010 10:12 pm
 

Mo Williams nearly retired after LeBron left

Lonely Cav captain left to ponder career by LeBron James nearly calls it quits.
Posted by Matt Moore




When LeBron James took his talents to Miami, he left a trail of disappointed and devastated people in his wake. Dan Gilbert, the Cavs' organization, Cavalier fans, sporting good store owners in Ohio, the city of Cleveland, Knicks fans, Bulls fans, Nets fans, Clipper fa... you get the picture. But in general, you have to believe most of the Cavs players treated it as NBA players treat these kinds of things. Business. Players come, players go. The checks keep coming, so what't the concern?

For one player, apparently it wasn't just business, and life didn't just go on. Mo Williams, James' running mate in Cleveland told Yahoo! Sports Monday that he was so distraught following "The Decision" that he considered retirement. From Mo Gotti's conversation with Marc Spears :

"I contemplated it. I really sat down and envisioned life after basketball. …I really saw myself not playing.

“It just didn’t make sense to me. …It doesn’t make sense to me.”

Williams goes on to say that he lost a lot of his love for the game, and it took him a while to be able to get back into the game. He doesn't sound wholly convinced, either. The whole conversation comes across the way someone sounds after a particularly tough breakup, the kind where you don't know what happened and he/she just moved out one day.

Is Williams a sympathetic figure? He certainly took a huge load of the blame for the playoff failures of the Cavaliers during his time there. Williams always seemed to be trying to prove a point, that he could score too, instead of being the all-around player most wanted him to be in support of James. This is the gap between a point guard and a Scottie Pippen-type forward. That's the problem. James was the all-around type player as well as the massive scoring force. And Williams also wasn't exactly on target with a lot of those shots. It's much easier to feel sorry for him if he wasn't campaigning to be an All-Star and clanging up a house for the third little pig every May.

But that's contextual based on our knowledge of him. At his root, Mo Williams is a player that felt like he was part of something special in Cleveland, who loved the opportunity to compete at the highest level with what he felt was the greatest player in the game, and someone who now faces a reality where the person that he was trying so hard to support is gone. Vanished in the night, on national television. He's got to continue his career, knowing that windows for players like himself are small and delicate, and the odds are not good that he'll hear his name in the Conference Finals again. The whole NBA world's changed since LeBron James left Cleveland.

And we're still trying to figure out all the career implications and casualties of "The Decision."

Posted on: September 17, 2010 11:46 am
Edited on: September 17, 2010 11:53 am
 

The Heat have got security on lock down

Heat credentials application for training camp is like jumping through fifteen rings of fire while solving Rubik's Cube.
Posted by Matt Moore


Here's a little bit of inside media info. Not all NBA team PR departments are the same. Some are laid back, informal, and easy to work with. Others are like dealing with a government office. They don't want to help you, and just when you think you have everything, they inform you that you need another form that's all the way back at your house across town. It's nothing personal, it's just a difference in philosophies that varies depending on a number of factors, including how much media presence there is in a given market.

Then, way on the far end of the spectrum, so far you you can only identify it by the flashing spotlights emanating from their fortress of attitude, is how the Miami Heat are handling training camp.

It was announced yesterday that the Heat will be spending camp at a military base, Hurlburt field in Florida at Eglin Air Force base. A nice way for the Heat to be identified with troops committed to service. But then, of course, there's a nice secondary perk. Getting into the thing as a media member is going to be harder than slipping into a party with LeBron and company in Vegas. Wait...

The Heat sent out their camp credentials announcement, and it's a solid three pages of documentation. Which isn't like a college application or anything, but it's still really extensive. There's legitimate reason for the application, naturally; we're talking about a freaking Air Force base. Security needs to go a little bit beyond "are you going to take naked pictures of Dwyane Wade?" and into "Are you a legitimate security risk?"

The implications are extremely favorable for the Heat in controlling the message. Due to the base's necessary security restrictions on their internet networks, no service will be provided for media. Looking to file? You'd better bring an air card. This ain't the Hilton. The questions on the security clearance may be the best, though. Here's a few examples:

"Have you ever been barred from entry/access to any Federal/military installation or facility?"

Well, that depends. Do you count Karl Malone's house? I got in there, but he said I wasn't armed enough.

"Are you wanted by federal or civil law enforcement authorities, regardless of offense/violation (i.e., an “order to arrest” has been issued by a judge?"


Yes, actually. I know these just look like fashion accessories, but in reality, it's actually a ball and chain. Additionally, the phrase "Born to Kill" tattooed on my forehead is not, in fact, metaphorical.

"Have you ever been convicted of espionage, sabotage, treason, terrorism or murder?"


Convicted is such a strong word. Also, fun fact, this was specifically designed to keep Greg Popovich out.

"Does your name appear on any federal agency’s 'watch list' or “hit list” for criminal behavior or terrorist activity?"


So basically, you're saying the Wolves and Darko Milicic can't come over for a scrimmage, right?

"Have you been convicted of firearms or explosives violation within the past ten years?"

(Insert Gilbert Arenas joke here.)

"Have you ever conspired or attempted to commit any of the criminal acts listed above?"

I confess. I tried to commit espionage once, but Tommy's mom said he had to go home for dinner. Also, get ready for a slew of sabotage jokes about LeBron and Game 5. Just be prepared.

Again, this security is completely understandable given where camp is being held. But that had to be part of the lure for the Heat organization, which has always prided itself on the ability to control the message. With the amount of attention the team will garner this year, starting off in an environment that's already sanitized by its very nature is a shrewd move on the part of Pat Riley.

Ken Berger wanted to weigh in on this post, but he's busy taking the requisite urine sample and tracking down his great-great-great-grandmother's maiden name.
Posted on: July 9, 2010 2:09 am
Edited on: July 9, 2010 2:53 am
 

LeBrocalypse: The losers are not taking it well

Posted by Matt Moore

We told you for days that someone was going to lose the NBA free agency arms race. That several teams were going to lose. And tonight, the final blows were struck. With LeBron James announcing his intention to sign with the Miami Heat, every team but the Heat will fall into the losers category. From here on out it's just a matter of degrees. Here are the losers, in order of degree by which this day sucked:

Level 1- LeBrocalypse Devastation: First four Black Sabbath albums


1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Go ahead. Let it out. You too, Dan. Get it out of your system . In Comic Sans, no less. It's bad. It's really bad. It's not just the emotional stuff. The deep connection people had to the kid from Akron, Ohio's native son, the local boy done good. It's the practical stuff. The city of Cleveland just lost out on what some estimates have put at $250 million in revenue to a South Beach heist. That's jobs. That's vacations. That's benefits. They weren't James' responsibility to watch out for, his obligation is to his family and his company. But it still deepens the wound. And that's not all. What about the practical holes in the roster? Who plays the small forward? They sacrificed so much, committed to bad contracts of veteran players in an attempt to build around James. And now?

It's a team poorly constructed. With little hope to remain in contention. Their best players are now Antawn Jamison and Mo Williams. There's no bright side to this. They can't bring in another player to put their hopes in. There's nothing but the sting of watching the media coverage for the Heat ramp up to levels the Cavs never saw. There's just nothing left. In a television interview, Brian Windhorst described the scene in Cleveland as if an atomic bomb went off. Kaboom.

Level 2- "Boom Goes the Dynamite"


2. Chicago Bulls:
Here's a bad sign for when your organization has probably thought too much of itself. New York looked humble and realistic next to the Bulls in this whole thing. When the most self-important set of zip codes in the modern world is showing you how to keep things in perspective, you may have overestimated your position. The Bulls played their cards strong to the point of bullying, challenging and charging at LeBron at every turn. In the end, it was the quiet, subtle Pat Riley who made the most effective pitch and converted the deal, while the Bulls come off as brash and overly confident.

The Bulls honestly expected that the attitude "You should want to sign here" would work. And by all accounts, they were close. But as usual, the Bulls organization fumbled an opportunity and now face a reality where their big "get" was Carlos Boozer. Hey, at least you're not paying him $20 million plus when he's 35. Wait.

Level 3 - "A Series of Unfortunate Events "


3. New Jersey Nets:
The Nets knew they were sunk before ESPN's camera's showed up at the Greenwich depot for coffee (they may not have a depot in Greenwich). They signed Travis Outlaw to a deal which slammed the door shut. The Nets are committed to a long-term approach using youth and growth. That's the new plan. Landing one of the top guys would have helped. But they fell out of favor almost as soon as they made their pitch. It's more that the Nets are looking at a longer rebuilding process than the other teams that lands them here. They have no Derrick Rose to comfort them, nor an Amar'e Stoudemire signing to take the sting off. But really, their fate was sealed when the lottery balls didn't go their way.  That's the way the cookie crumbles. Anybody know the Russian word for "Plan B?"

4. New York Knicks: Well, they did get Amar'e. And now have Anthony Randolph and some solid roleplayers. The Knicks wanted to become a legitimate force in the NBA championship picture. Well, that didn't happen. And so they wind up on this failures list, but in the end, the pain isn't as great as it could be. They did get a top flight free agent. And from there, D'Antoni has started to assemble a roster that may not be a championship contender, but is similar to some sort of mid-70's ABA underground club, playing in the back-arenas of New York. A running, striding, power team with point-forward capabilities and shooters that can get out and run with the best of them.

It's not the worst of fates for the Knicks, and unlike the Bulls they don't look desperate or misguided and unlike the Cavaliers, the franchise still stands with hope for the future. It wasn't a win, but it wasn't the end of the world.

5. Los Angeles Clippers: “Self-pity  is our worst enemy and if we yield to it, we can never do anything wise in this world.” - Helen Keller

Funny story, Helen actually had a better overall vision for a basketball organization than the Clippers do.
Posted on: July 8, 2010 10:29 pm
Edited on: July 8, 2010 10:40 pm
 

I think this pretty much sums it up for Cleveland

Posted by Royce Young

You knew YouTube was going to have a say in this. And here's an early, yet pretty solid reaction video to LeBron's decision to go to the Miami Heat from a Cleveland fan.



There's already some footage of Cleveland fans burning LeBron's jersey in the streets. Michael Wilbon asked LeBron what he thought of this kind of reaction to the news. LeBron said, "I can't get involved in that. One thing I didn't want to do was make an emotional decision. I wanted to do what was best for LeBron James and LeBron James is going to do to what makes him happy. To put the shoe on the other foot, if the Cavs would have got rid of me at one point, would my family have burned down the organization? Of course not. I mean this is a business and I had seven great years in Cleveland and I hope the fans understand that, but maybe they won't."

Yep, evidently not.


Posted on: July 8, 2010 9:32 pm
Edited on: July 8, 2010 9:34 pm
 

LeBron Decides: Miami Heat

LeBron James throws powder in the air Posted by Royce Young

It's done. LeBron James has announced he intends to sign with the Miami Heat. You may now go back to your regularly scheduled lives.

It took about 30 minutes into the one-hour special for LeBron to make the announcement, saying, "This fall, this is very tough, but this fall I'm going to take my talents to South Beach and join the Miami Heat."

When asked why, LeBron said, "Like I said before, I feel like this is going to give me the best opportunity to win and to win for multiple years. And not only just to win in the regular season or just to win five games in a row or three games in a row, I want to win championships and I feel like I can compete down there."

LeBron said he made his final decision this morning after talking with his mom.

In the days leading up to the announcement, many reports came out LeBron was leaning the Heat's way. And the annonymous sources prevailed.

LeBron will of course join Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, forming a scary three-headed monster. But the fact is, there's not a lot left in cap space to fill in a team around the big three. Ken Berger wrote Wednesday that Miami was the worst choice for James. And wouldn't you know it, that's where he wound up.

Obviously more to come about all this, but in case you missed The Decision or somehow missed the headline and body of this post, LeBron James is going to Miami.




 
 
 
 
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