The Clock of Doom that has been ticking inside Cavaliers fans’ heads for four years now is finally approaching its end—an end that seems terrifyingly closer now that the Cavs have yet again flopped out of the playoffs, Mike Brown has been fired, Danny Ferry has resigned, and Dan Gilbert has officially embarked on his expected warpath to find the next Cavaliers head coach.
All signs point to the Cavs’ front office preparing for a franchise apocalypse.
Add to all that the fact that nearly half the team’s roster (Mo Williams, Delonte West, Daniel Gibson, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Shaquille O’Neal, Jawad Williams, and that LeBron guy) is currently in limbo concerning the future status with the squad and Clevelanders’ patience and sanity are being shaved away bit by bit.
The nonstop barrage of anti-Cleveland sentiment (LeBron Photshopped into Knicks, Nets, Bulls and Heat uniforms, experts’ perceived chances of LBJ staying in Cleveland dwindling daily, etc.) seen, read, and heard in sports media isn’t helping people in Cleveland feel optimistic about the city’s basketball (and economic) future, either.
Yes, the Cavaliers’ season and foreseeable future hit an official tailspin after Game 5 of the Boston series.
And yes, the certifiable nationwide circus that began and snowballed since season’s end was certainly expected.
But this is beginning to get a bit out of hand.
While sideline blurbs and notes are being dedicated to completely unrelated “stories” on the issue like Ron Artest’s opinion on where LeBron will go, mainstream coverage is constantly being devoted to hypothetical dream hirings of Tom Izzo and Phil Jackson, how hard Jay-Z and Mayor Michael Bloomberg are or aren’t selling New York/Jersey to LeBron, and the mysterious mind and money powers of the almighty Mikhail Prokhorov.
Now, these stories don’t bother me at their surface. What makes them more than a tad absurd is how far people read into them. There is a bottom line that runs along every rumor, story, tweet, quote, and mumbling about LeBron James’ future.
Nothing’s happened yet.
The guy has been anything but committal in any direction and has refused to lean one way or another since the beginning of the 2009-10 season.
Of course he “likes” the Bulls’ nucleus of Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah, who doesn’t?
Just because he “loves” New York City doesn’t mean he wants to dedicate the prime of his career to dragging that town’s awful basketball teams to mediocrity.
And of course the only team he’s played professionally with—the team he carried on his back to the 2007 NBA Finals, the one with which he won two league MVP awards and sowed the seeds of his now-sterling career—has an “edge” in re-signing him. Cleveland has become a home to LeBron and the Cavs would once again be a leader in the East and a contender for an NBA title with LeBron in the fold no matter who else is on Cleveland’s roster.
The truth is that nobody really knows what’s going in LeBron’s head except LeBron. It’s been proven again and again throughout the Doomsday 2010 Epic that began four years ago.
He’s become very, very good at being a guarded public figure and applying blinders toward his lone goal as an NBA player: winning a championship (this focus was, for the first time, interrupted in the Celtics series, which makes me think his elbow injury was much graver than he or anyone in the Q wanted to admit).
Along with playing basketball in his home region, LeBron loves usurping the brightest possible spotlight at all times. You think he’s getting what he wants right now? Thought so.
What all the above random strings of thought have in common is that they all lead to this point: nothing matters until LeBron makes a decision.
Everything the Cavs, coaches looking for work, and free agents looking for a team do this summer hinges on where LBJ signs his name in July. I realize this is hard to do (especially for you, my fellow Clevelanders) since more than one basketball franchise may or may not collapse due to James’ signing, but let’s all try to relax for the time being.
The Cleveland Cavaliers may be on the eve of the destruction of their franchise, but all they—and everyone else—can do for now is wait.
So can we please start talking about basketball again?