It was supposed to be this year. In Michael Jordan's seventh season he led the Bulls to title, but LeBron could only manage leading the Cavs to the league's best record while receiving his second MVP. But none of that matters because he couldn't dispel the demons in Cleveland and bring the city a championship. Now let the rumors fly about where he'll wind up.
But first we need to describe Cleveland's pain. From Jay Mariotti:
The nightmares will continue in Cleveland, where a combination of bad karma and too many devastating sports moments -- The Drive, The Fumble, The Shot, losing the original Browns to Baltimore, losing the 1997 World Series in the final inning of Game 7 -- should remind James that even he isn't big enough to overcome decades of futility.
Blaming the city? Check. Now from Mike Celizic:
Cleveland fans had invested an enormous amount of emotional energy in this son of nearby Akron. They'd given him their hopes and their dreams, their yearning for something to finally celebrate after so many years of bitter disappointments.
LeBron didn't disappoint those fans. In their minds, he betrayed them.
Blaming LeBron? Check. And let's talk about this for a second. He disappointed them? With his unbelievable play all season long, winning the MVP again, and being the most entertaining player in basketball? He had pretty much one bad game and you're saying he betrayed the fans? Ridiculous.
He didn't lead them to the promised land and now the future looks bleak. From Brian Windhorst:
This is regression. Playing the way they did against the Bulls and the Celtics, they would not have beaten the Magic this season. Or the Lakers. Or probably the Suns. Right now the Cavs maybe, maybe are the fifth-best team in the league, and James and Shaquille O'Neal are headed for free agency.
And with regression come possible changes. From Marla Ridenour:
Riding on the loss might have been the future of not only James, but also coach Mike Brown and perhaps General Manager Danny Ferry. Not to mention the financial stability of the franchise if the Cavs lose James when the free-agency signing period begins on July 1.
This team has done everything it could to build a championship-caliber team around LeBron. They have one of the highest payrolls in the NBA and have been aggressive in trading and free agency. I'm not sure how much of the blame should be put on Danny Ferry. Mike Brown on the other hand? Too many times it seemed the Cavs didn't know what they were doing on offense. They would slowly work the ball around and then realize there was 5 seconds left on the shot clock and put up something awful. They're a better team than that. Mike Brown got them this far but I don't believe he'll be back again next season - with or without LeBron.
There are many rumors about who might take over as coach. John Calipari is the hottest rumor (I'll get to that a bit later) but Ian Thomsen suggests the possibility of Larry Brown:
And here's where the media gets fun - endless speculation on where he'll end up! He's going to Chicago! No, he's going to New York! He's going to Orlando? Alright, that last one was just a ridiculous hypothetical but let's go back to New York. In Game 6, Celtics fans began chanting "New York Knicks" at LeBron. I don't quite get it. Is that really what you want Celtics fans? You want LeBron in the same division as your Celtics? Your Celtics who (while playing great right now) are much closer to the end of their careers than the beginning. But it could be the beginning of an unbelievable rivalry.The Cavaliers wanted to hire Larry Brown as team president five years ago, and any hope of salvaging a new contract with James this summer begins with acquiring a sure-thing coach -- even if it means doling out compensation to the Charlotte Bobcats ...
The important thing is, whatever LeBron does, he'll end up with more people hating him than ever before. That's pretty much what Bob Raismann says. There are a handful of fanbases hoping and praying for the King to dawn their jersey but he'll eventually just pick one and the rest?
But of all the media speculation the craziest piece written was surprisingly from Adrian Wojnarowski. Woj is an extremely respected name in covering the NBA and has broken many stories. He's not one for sensationalism and that's why his piece on LeBron and his new team is that much more shocking.James' image will take a major pounding from these jilted lovers. Bouquets will be replaced by brickbats. The possibility exists that the free agency blueprint that LeBron and his associates crafted could end up damaging the King James brand.
I told you it was crazy. Wojnarowski then writes James quit on his team but:
Together, they're going to hold the NBA hostage. They're going to flush out a thousand scenarios, manipulate front-office decisions in Cleveland, New York, Chicago and beyond. Kentucky's John Calipari is along for the ride, working with agent Leon Rose and middleman William Wesley, and all hell promises to break out now.
The plan they're talking about includes Calipari coming to Cleveland as James' hand-picked coach. "He's got to listen if they come calling," a source close to Calipari told Yahoo! Sports on Thursday night. He was talking about the Cavaliers and Bulls, and Calipari's camp is determined to open bidding to multiple teams.
Together, these narcissists will manufacture a drama that will undermine the conference and NBA Finals, the NBA draft and Fourth of July parades in small towns and big cities across America.
I've always given James the benefit of the doubt but after this portrayal I have to reassess. Is his ego really as big as Wojnarowski says? Is his team really scheming and manipulating to put Calipari and James together?James will get it over it fast because he engages in so little self-examination. In his mind, and that of his cast of sycophants, blame belongs on his coach, Mike Brown, for his lousy adjustments and game plans. It belongs to general manager Danny Ferry for the unworthy teammates. James was no MVP in this series, but no one stays in his employ with impure thoughts of accountability.
There have been so many ridiculous rumors and speculation but then for the most sensational to come from an extremely reliable source makes me think I've underestimated how big and complex this story is going to get.
It's going to be a LeBron-filled month and a half and I'm suddenly excited about it.