I believe it was Aristotle or Men’s Humor that once said, “Don’t believe everything that you read on the Internet.” As true as that statement may be, here we are sitting neck deep in the swimming pool filled with feces known as the NBA offseason’s free agency period. We never thought that it could get worse than The Decision for LeBron James, but whatever the hell people are calling this current informational chaos makes a 30-minute sit-down with Jim Grey for Vitamin Water look like dinner with your grandparents. But patience and accuracy mean so little in this era of endless access to information, and that’s why so many experts and analysts have been causing NBA fans to lose their f*cking minds over the last week.
LeBron’s problem is that The Decision proved that no matter how well he hid away in his Fortress of Solitude, there were always leaks in his inner circle. The detriment of surrounding yourself with lifelong friends as business associates and partners is that no amount of money or job security can keep a guy’s mouth shut. Maybe LeBron’s crew works better than I give them credit for, but having simply known other human beings for 30+ years of life, I’ve never met a person who could shut his mouth about anything. Secrets only exist in diaries, and even then there’s always a shithead trying to sneak a peek or tear a page out.
Is that the reason why we’ve reached this incredible point of strange information about The King’s return to Cleveland, because people can’t shut the f*ck up? It seems bizarre that while Stephen A. Smith had amazingly accurate information about the professional desires of James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in 2010, the best we’re getting now is someone from Caroline’s Cupcakes hearing from someone close to LeBron that he’s returning, and a guy who did some snooping on LeBronJames.com discovering some new font schemes that match the colors of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Then again, there’s also Chris Sheridan, the freelance NBA expert and analyst who claims his sources are “90% certain” that Cleveland is about to throw the biggest homecoming party in NBA history, and he stands by those sources and his story 100%, despite whatever he’s pissed off at Colin Cowherd about.
Sheridan’s scenario is strikingly similar to Smith’s, in that neither of them were employed by networks during LeBron’s free agency periods, and Smith earned himself a new career with ESPN for nailing the LeBron to Miami prediction. I don’t know if Sheridan has a desire to work for a major player like ESPN or Fox Sports, but it couldn’t hurt his “brand,” to use a word I loathe, to be the guy who went all-in first in predicting LeBron’s return to Cleveland. Like others, Sheridan has a source who is telling him that this is going to happen, and because he’s not Chris Broussard, who has the industry’s worst reputation for Tweeting news that has already been broken and acting like he just broke it with his own “Sources,” more people are willing to listen to Sheridan, despite the fact that he retweeted a “confirmation” from a clearly fake “Chriz Broussard” account.
Therein lies the problem for any NBA “expert” or “analyst.” If little, old irrelevant me decided to go all-in on LeBron’s destination, no one would give a crap if I was eventually wrong. Sure, commenters would bust my balls like they did after The Decision, but I don’t have a reputation to worry about. Sheridan, on the other hand, will be absolutely destroyed on Twitter and other sites if he’s wrong, and that begs the question – why would Sheridan go all-in on LeBron to Cleveland if he doesn’t truly believe that it’s going to happen? And again, Broussard is behind him, despite the fact that he and Brian Windhorst, who infamously knows LeBron better than anyone, reported just this morning that no decision has been made.
Meanwhile, Darren Rovell has employed his own brand of “journalism” in Tweeting what other people have already Tweeted and presenting it as legitimate information because he Tweeted it, while pointing out that LeBron’s web team reached out to Twitter this morning for account assistance (SHOCKING!) and his most recent follow at the time was the Akron Beacon Journal, which just so happened to run a story about the LeBron James Foundation teaming up with Rehab Addict’s Nicole Curtis (whom I love, but that’s a whole different story) one week ago. If anything, this is like the crushed nuts being sprinkled on top of the ice cream sundae of our own absurd obsession with unfiltered, nonstop information.
So where, then, does LeBron James end up signing? According to the Akron Beacon Journal’s Jason Lloyd, James canceled his plans to travel home to Akron from his Las Vegas meeting with Pat Riley and other Heat officials, and he’s going directly to Brazil to catch the World Cup Finals. We can pretend that means nothing more than a world class athlete taking advantage of the fact that he owns at least one private jet and has access to literally any event in any place on Earth. Seriously, if LeBron wanted to attend mass at the Vatican, he could hide under the Pope’s robe if he asked. But this also looks like the final act of a man about to make a decision that is going to royally infuriate at least one city and its NBA fans. If he learned anything from The Decision, it was to get the hell away from everything and let the smoke clear first.
There’s a rumor (from Sheridan, I believe) that the announcement could come today on LeBronJames.com. However, if the pages that the web developer wrote about aren’t even set up, that seems unlikely unless it’s just going to be a quick message on the front page. And with no comments section, that means that Twitter will be a nightmare. But who will the angry fans be? Will Miami Heat fans, spoiled by four NBA Finals appearances in the last four seasons and two Larry O’Brien trophies, be the ones calling LeBron a “trader” this time? Or will Cavs fans find themselves broken-hearted for the second time when the King decides that his talents will remain in South Beach?
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Cavs fans have been incredibly confident over the last four days that the man their team drafted first overall in 2003 is going to be making his return to play alongside Anderson Varejão, Kyrie Irving and Andrew Wiggins, and possibly Kevin Love if Minnesota is stupid enough to take Dion Waiters and two first rounders that will probably be No. 29 or 30 in their respective drafts. They’ve been flappin’ their wings and struttin’ their stuff, peckin’ and weavin’ and bobbin’ and talkin’ trash. But why? This is the biggest problem I’ve had with this entire free agency showcase. I don’t care about certain guys in the media doing certain things and spreading rumors like they can’t be fired, because that’s never going to change and will only get worse as our access to information becomes broader.
LeBron promised that his goal was to bring an NBA Championship to the city of Cleveland before his career ends, which he can technically still do if he decides to sign with the Cavs again. But he left to win two titles in Miami, because the Heat were willing and more prepared to team him up with his good friends, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, and the supporting cast in Cleveland was proving to be a burden on a young man’s back. You can’t blame him for wanting to leave to play with his Big 3 and “Super Team,” but Cleveland did. A lot. From the fans to the owner, Dan Gilbert, who wrote a hilariously petty letter to LeBron in Comic Sans, and nobody is ever going to forget that.
Even LeBron Tweeted in 2010 that he was not going to forget what people were saying about him after The Decision, and yet here we are, expected to believe that he has forgiven the burning of his jerseys in the streets, but presumably not forgotten Gilbert’s failed declaration that the Cavs would win an NBA title before LeBron would in Miami or elsewhere. This is what baffles me about Cleveland fans right now. I joked the other day on Twitter about how LeBron is basically Jenny from Forrest Gump to Cavs fans, but it’s a very good comparison. They’re the good guy who put the hot girl on a pedestal and offered her the world, only to watch her leave so she could party with her friends and be showered with money, fame and praise with a wealthier, flashier man. Then, when the party ended, and the other girls decided they wanted more attention, the hot girl, a little more aged and finally showing some wear and tear, came back to the good guy, despite the fact that he threw a colossal hissy fit and called her a whore to all of his friends.
I’m not saying that Cavs fans shouldn’t be excited about the prospect, but dear lord, you guys – show some f*cking pride and stop pretending like you weren’t crying in rage as you ripped his Fatheads off your wall. Also, quit acting like an NBA Championship is a foregone conclusion when he suits up again. He was 50% in four seasons with the Heat, and one came when he had Wade and Bosh clicking on all levels. You saw what happened in his first season, when he needed time to gel with proven all-stars, and you saw what happened this year when he had to carry the whole thing. I know trying to talk common sense with sports fans is a worthless endeavor, but as we all remember this…
… you’d think that the majority of Cleveland fans would be like, “Yo guys, maybe we shouldn’t get our hopes up.” And there are a lot of people out there who want LeBron to crush Cleveland’s collective heart again just to watch the misery overflow. That is mean as hell, but it’s reality. Stand up straight and show some self-respect, Cavs fans, because your team hasn’t signed or won a thing yet.
As For the Miami Fans…
If LeBron stays in Miami, we know that Heat fans will celebrate like it’s better than the championship that the San Antonio Spurs just took from LeBron and Co. with the greatest of ease. Why, I have no idea, because that’s a team that still needs work and Josh McRoberts and Danny Granger are only slight upgrades to the role players that couldn’t solve the Spurs to save their lives last month. But if he leaves, there will be angry Heat fans. The question for that is simply – WHY?
Again, Heat fans got four trips to the NBA Finals in four seasons. Do you know how many teams in the NBA (and their fans) that would kill for one trip in four years? Approximately 22 teams, because only 8 teams have won an NBA title in the past 30 years (or something like that, I abandoned fact-checking years ago, much like Broussard). What would make me angrier than any of the stupid rumors and fans debating on Twitter about where LeBron will end up is the idea that a Miami fan would burn his LeBron jersey. I’d name my first son Dwight Howard Burns if it meant the Orlando Magic winning an NBA Championship, so anyone who wants to complain that two wasn’t enough before a rebuilding period can kiss my ass.