CLEVELAND – The King sat alone … well, as alone as the best basketball player in the world could be while surrounded by people. Writers scrambled to dodge cords and cameras and microphones, bouncing from the whiteboard to lockers in hopes of finding a glimmer of insight into the King’s thoughts and drives. The King was aware — as he always is — of everything going on around him, but headphones created a barrier as he went about his postgame routine.
Bystanders got caught almost whispering, either out of respect or to match the funeral-like nature of a team that saw its season reach its unceremonious conclusion. Faced with trying to solve a Rubik’s Cube that had seen all its colors swapped and mangled, they could not. Some players dressed in silence and were left alone, others were grabbed for brief moments, and the cameras moved from target to target until the frenzy dissipated into the night.
Breaking through the somberness of the room like a wrecking ball to the side of an abandoned building, the King’s boys and friends bounded into the locker room, bursting with energy and chattering as preteens do. One tripped over a pair of slides that had been left on the carpet, another narrowly avoided toppling over an ice bucket. They surrounded the King. There was no sadness, no agenda, no need for answers. It was an unguarded moment, and as quickly as it happened, it was over.
The King, headphones still on, shuffled into the showers, preparing for a press conference that would turn whispers into roars. For the second time in his career, a potential decision that could force the Cleveland Cavaliers to start back at square one looms large on the horizon.