Tuesday, May 11, 2010

We Are All Witnesses – To LeBron's Next Move

We are all witnesses ... (potentially) of the end of Cleveland's best chance to bring home its first NBA championship.

We may have just witnessed the last home game with LeBron James wearing a maroon Cleveland Cavaliers jersey.

Cleveland fans may soon become witnesses of watching one of the all-time greatest players – and by the end of his career, I have no doubts that he will be – leave town.

Heading into the playoffs, my gut feeling was that LeBron was staying in Cleveland. And why wouldn't he? The team was winning, finishing the season with the best record. The franchise had done what it could to build a championship-contending team around him, bringing in big piece (Shaquille O'Neal) after big piece (Antawn Jamison). I figured it was just a matter of time before he brought a couple championship rings to his home state (though not this year).

Then the series with the Boston Celtics happened. It's not yet over, but that blowout Game 5 loss on Cleveland's home floor, with fans booing and leaving early ... that's not the statement to be made possibly one game before LeBron enters free agency. That kind of statement is the kind of thing that makes someone like LeBron rethink his future, even if he already had it figured out. Maybe he's starting to realize that no matter what the Cavs management does, he's just not meant to win in Cleveland. Maybe he should start again in New Jersey (soon to be Brooklyn) or New York.

It's still possible for the Cavs to fall back into form, the type of form that had made them the favorites to win the championship. But they're up against a veteran-savvy team in Boston. You know the Big Three (Paul Piece, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett) would like nothing more than to prove they're not an "old" team and that the young hyped-up stars of tomorrow aren't yet ready to steal their stage.

If you're not yet a witness, consider tuning in for Game 6, because you may just be witness to the end of a fruitless (LeBron wants championships, not MVP trophies) run in Cleveland and the birth of a new beginning elsewhere, which would mean a drastically different NBA landscape.

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