So, it’s been made. The much-anticipated, hold-your-breath-until-your-face-turns-blue, earth-shattering, life-altering decision is now set in stone.
Let the dancing in the streets of Cleveland begin. Forget the motto of “Mistake by the Lake.” Johnny Football, it was your town for all of two months but now you’ve got to give it back. Get those No. 23 jerseys out of the moth balls or try to piece them back together if somehow ashes can be mended after they were burned in effigy four years ago.
Cleveland, Ohio, is now LeBron, Ohio.
Without all the pyrotechnics this time, LeBron James took the subtle, more-grown-up route. All it took was a simple, first-person essay post today onSI.com and the world as we know it will never be the same.
There was no announcement from ESPN’s resident reverend Stephen A. Smith, who surely was itching to be the one to let the world in on the decision by his close, dear personal friend as he likes to say about all sports luminaries. No press conference with reporters trying to top each other in the leather-lung department.
Simple. To the point. Done.
Though snubbed, ESPN went into immediate LeBron mode. I watched over the noon hour as the world’s sports leader broke it down every way imaginable. His announcement has put the rest of the sports world on hold. There could be four no-hitters thrown in major league baseball tonight, but they would be buried on the back page.
Now there’s a whole spate of new stories that will surface. Will Cleveland trade for Kevin Love? Does Andrew Wiggins get sent packing after being the overall No. 1 draft pick last month? How many of LeBron’s cronies (Ray Allen, Mike Miller?) does Cleveland pick up to pacify him?
This was seismic for the NBA. The knee-jerk reaction is that there will be a shift of power from San Antonio to Cleveland, though I’m sure Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili just sniffed their noses when they heard the announcement. Las Vegas has wildly overreacted, already installing the Cavaliers as the favorite to win the NBA title. Have they looked at the rest of the Cavaliers’ roster? Do they know Cleveland has a new coach? Or do they assume LeBron is calling all the shots?
Perhaps the happiest guy out of all of this is the third Musketeer, Chris Bosh. With LeBron going to Cleveland, he doesn’t have to take less money from Miami to play in the background. He’ll no longer be the Heat’s Keith Richards to Mick Jagger. He can now go to Houston, which for some reason is going to pay him $22 million a year even though he’s little more than a 6-10 jump shooter. He’s getting that kind of money even though the Rockets have greater star power in Dwight Howard and James Harden. If he goes to Houston, it’s a new “Big 3,” just on a smaller scale.
And where does this leave Dwyane Wade (I’ve never understood why he spells his first name that way, it’s kind of like Micheal Ray Richardson)? Wade has been a warrior, playing hurt the last few years. His body literally has broken down and while he can still on occasion conjure up a blast from the past, the tread on his tire is almost bald.
The other winner in all of this is the NBA. This is a lightning bolt of energy, sure to make this season the most anticipated in a long time. LeBron still has a lot of good years left and you know everyone will be pulling for Cleveland, given its sorry sports history. He’s going home to make the town a winner and generally anything he puts his mind to, he accomplishes.