LeBron is gone. Gilbert is 100K poorer after being fined by the NBA for his open letter to fans. The Cavs have nothing to show for LeBron leaving except a couple of late 1st and late 2nd round picks. But as always, there is more to the story than has been reported elsewhere.
First we will look at LeBron.
LeBron said that his top priority was winning. The fact is that he realized that he could not do that alone. But he wasn’t alone in the 2009-10 season. He had the best cast he ever enjoyed since turning pro. In addition to the 08-09 team, owner Dan Gilbert brought Shaq and Jamison into town to not only help LeBron but to show him the team would do whatever it could to keep him happy. That was not enough to get past the Celtics in the playoffs.
However, many including owner Gilbert believed that the failure to win against the Celtics was not so much the fault of the supporting cast as it was a failure of LeBron himself. In the three consecutive losses to the Celts, LeBron went 7-22 for 22 points, 3-14 for 15, and 8-21 for 28. That puts his shooting percentage at 34% well below his 09-10 season average of 50.3%. Jamison hit 38% which is a little more than 10% below his season average of 46.5%. Shaq sank 59% of his shots which is well above his average of 49.6 for the 09-10 season.
One of the best indications of the offensive efficiency and effectiveness of a player is points per shot. LeBron got 1.21 points per shot. During the season he averaged 1.41 pps. Jamison got .88 pps vs his season average of 1.19. Shaq came through strong in the playoff against Boston with 1.81 pps vs. his season average of 1.37.
LeBron said the city of Cleveland should forgive him for just 5 bad games in his years on the team. He knew he was not playing up to normal. The fault may have been on his injured elbow or that may have been a good excuse to tank the series.
Why would he do that? Let’s go back to the Olympics. Not the last one but the one in 2004. Wade and James talked then about playing together. They signed short contracts to allow them to become UFAs in 2010. In the 2008 games, Bosh joined in the collusion. If the Cavs had won the title in 2009-10, how could he move to Miami saying that he wanted to win? He couldn’t.
Another possibility was that after the game 2 loss to the Celts in Cleveland, LeBron realized what some have been saying for awhile. He is not a Jordan but is rather a Pippen. He is not capable of carrying a team on his back but has to be the “other” guy that helps a real star win. He will never admit that publicly but by going to Miami he has told the world he felt like he needed a star or two to win.
Gilbert may have really hacked off the NBA and Commish Stern but he said what he had to in order to keep the Cavs’ fan base together. We can not forget that the people of Cleveland have been disappointed so often by their sports teams. As I said in the first article on this blog years ago, it seems like God hates the Browns. That applies to the Indians and the Cavs as well. The Browns were stolen by Art Muddle. The Indians are run by an owner with all the spirit and charisma of a pet rock. Gilbert may be a little poorer but the people of Cleveland love him for his desire to win and finally standing up to James.
Leaving was bad enough but the 1 hour “LeGone” TV special was overkill. It seems to every Cavs fan that LeBron just wanted to twist the knife after inserting it into the heart of the team. “Et tu LeBron?”
One thing that can not be overlooked is the advantage that any team in Florida has over most states and particularly Ohio. Florida has no individual income tax. Ohio is one of the highest tax states in the country. Given the amount that the “Big 3” will earn, that fact has not been lost on them.
All the top drawer free agents are gone because LeBron waited so long to let the team know he was leaving. Even with LeBron, there was little chance that any one of them would come to the Cavs. Reportedly LeBron did try to convince Bosh to come but I doubt that given the background quoted above. Shaq is a UFA as well and may go elsewhere. That will leave the team with little hope for the immediate future. The only thing about which a Cavs fan can be positive is that Gilbert will do absolutely everything in his power to make the team competitive in the long and short run.
That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.
Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits http://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on
and edits http://fryingpanpolitics.blog.com.