This past Father’s Day was a great day for me. Not only did I celebrate my second year of being a Father, but I became Godfather to my nephew. It was a lovely church service with an all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet to follow, and good times hanging out with family. That was enough to make it an amazing day. Those are life events, and they’re awesome. That wasn’t the end though. As my day was winding down, I watched the NBA Finals in which the San Antonio Spurs defeated the evil empire Miami Heat to win the championship. To say that was the cherry on top of my day is understating. It’s like I was eating ice cream, and suddenly I got caramel, chocolate drizzle, peanuts, candy sprinkles, and frigging gummy bears raining down on my dessert. As a basketball fan, it was so unbelievably sweet. My only objective for watching the NBA playoffs was to see Miami lose. Why do I feel this way?
Four years ago Lebron James, who is the best player in the NBA currently, and when it’s all said and done, might be regarded as the greatest of all time, became a Free Agent. To my non-basketball watching readers, this means he was free to sign a new contract with any team of his choosing. He had played for the Cleveland Cavaliers his entire career up to that point. He was born and raised not far from there, so this was his home team. Up until this point, I kind of liked him. What followed was sort of off-putting. He decided to team up with the other 2 top Free Agents that year, and all sign with the same team, basically guaranteeing that they would be the best team in the NBA. This type of collusion had never really happened in any sport that I was aware of. This is all perfectly within the rules, so can’t be called cheating necessarily. There was a salary cap system that prevented one team from spending more money than all the rest. If the Miami Heat wanted to spend all their money on only 3 players, then I guess the other 9 wouldn’t be that great. Except for the fact that a lot of quality veteran players agreed to take less money, and play a lesser role in hopes that hitching their wagon to these guys might bring them a championship before the end of their career. So instead of having only 3 good players, they had 12 good players, and became the envy of the rest of the league. There was a TV show to announce Lebron’s intentions. There was introduction ceremony at the arena where they boldly predicted that they would win the next 5 or 6 championships. It was all really disgusting to me. I tried to imagine Larry Bird agreeing to play on the same team as Magic Johnson in order to dominate the league, and I think they would have rather died. As good as Lebron was, and as hard as the Cleveland organization really tried to put good players around him, I guess at the tender age of 25, he’d run out of patience with his hometown, and took his ‘talents to South Beach’.
I really just wanted them to lose. I would have cheered for any team who went against them. They made the finals in their first year together, and lost to the Dallas Mavericks. That was pretty sweet, but to be honest, making the finals in their first year as a new team was a pretty decent achievement. I was hoping for their failure to be more extreme. The following two seasons the won the NBA championships. I watched those games, and tried to suppress the bile from shooting out of my mouth onto the entire world. It was all happening, just like they said. I so badly wanted them to be brought down to earth. Finally this year, after making the finals for the 4th consecutive year, they ran into a team that could bring them back down to earth. This Father’s Day I got to see them hang their cocky little heads in shame as they walked off the court. That said, in 4 years they made the finals 4 times and won 2 championships. I wish I could say that they somehow didn’t live up to the hype, but that’s pretty good. I hate them.
Fast forward to now. They had opt out clauses in their contracts, and guess what? They opted out. Weird. I thought as stacked as they were, that maybe they’d go after another few championships. There was no reason to think that they couldn’t. Then this morning I find out that Lebron James is leaving sunny Miami, and going back home to Cleveland. Shocking! It is kind of a feel good story though. It’s kind of making me hate him a little less. Could it be that he finally realized that he would never feel true satisfaction from his achievements in Miami because of the way that situation had been manipulated from day one? Did it suddenly occur to him that if he were able to bring a championship to his hometown, that it would be way more fulfilling than bringing it to a place with nice weather, beaches, and a cool nightlife? Is there a part of him that isn’t whole because he basically sold out his people to take the incredibly easy road to success? I kinda think so.
I think Lebron has come to the realization that there is a thing called Sports Karma which most people don’t know about or understand. What he did only had subtle amounts of evil to it. So when Karma struck, it wasn’t in the form of a career ending injury, or a lack of success, but possibly an empty feeling that he wasn’t able to enjoy his success the way he thought he would. At 29 years old he’s decided to go against all Basketball Free Agent logic, and sign with his hometown team again to take care of unfinished business, and maybe right an old wrong by bringing that long suffering franchise a championship.
I gotta say, as cynical as I am about some of these things, I kind of like this. I think maybe I don’t hate this guy as much as I used to. I almost think that as long as it doesn’t conflict with my Toronto Raptors success, that I might be hoping Cleveland does really well. I did not recently envision a scenario where the sight of this guy wouldn’t really irritate me, but now??? I don’t really mind him. Until he does some other dumb thing I guess.