Thursday, July 17, 2014
Behind The Scoreboard
The King returns home
The King has abdicated – again. It appears that the more we try to put the recently completed NBA season in the retired bin the more it plays “jack in the box.” This jumping action is mostly fueled by a central figure – LeBron James, aka the King. After playing the free agent option close to the vest for a couple of weeks, James abruptly announced late last Friday that he had decided to take his talents back to his home of record.
One could probably dredge up a jillion songs that would pan the King’s decision – from “You Can Go Home Again” to “Welcome Back Kotter.” Apparently, the Cleveland faithful has reached down to the bottom of their athletic socks and pulled up a lot of forgiveness. From the highest level (owner Dan Gilbert) to the 7-year-old child who was seen crying on television in 2010 when James issued his fateful edict that he was “taking his talents to South Beach,” everyone is ready to allow jersey number 23 to pull “a Phoenix.” If all will recall that shirt was the victim of a public bonfire when the King abdicated the first time.
I think each of us would like to believe that we have some bits of “prodigal son” in our DNA and firmly desire to be able to return to our place of origin. But then, most of us are not the face of a valuable sports franchise. It is worthy to note that James did not relate a singular major factor in his decision to “go home.” James, who was drafted right out of high school in 2003, has spent 11 years in the league, seven with the Cavaliers and four with the Heat. His years in Cleveland were fruitful but the ones in Miami were spectacular – four playoff runs and two world titles.
In an earlier column, I had hinted at the possibility of the “Big Three” staying intact to go for another Spurs challenge. It seems that two will remain, Bosh and Wade. The former picked a ripe plum in his deal to remain in Miami, a five-year pact worth $118 mil. I remember writing way back when Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway inked his deal with the Magic for $14 mil that I could not see a “14 million dollar man.” I definitely can’t see a $23 million dollar Bosh. Not even the King’s deal equaled that ($42 million for two years with an option).
There were some much-sought-after stars who waited until the James saga played out before they signed. Carmelo Anthony’s reps told Chicago and Houston bidders to pack up their carpet bags and go home; Melo was remaining a Knick.
The King is already assembling a new court. He has talked old friend and three-point expert, Mike Miller, into joining him in his efforts to bring a major sports title to Cleveland after 50 years. The Cavs’ stock went up overnight and they have been made one of the top picks for a title next season. But Cleveland hired a head coach who has never coached an American professional team, David Blatt, so I have to be a little skeptical about the one season success.
Perhaps the citizens of South America can find empathy with the Cleveland fans of four years ago. They were counting on bringing another title to the country with two entries in the final four.
The entire country wept profusely when the Germans handed Brazil the worst defeat in playoff history, 7-1. And their lot didn’t improve when the Germans dashed their hopes again on Sunday with a 1-0 victory over Argentina.
If it weren’t for bad luck, well, you know.
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