Don’t Blame LeBron For Being Selfish
LeBron James is holding the Cleveland Cavs and owner Dan Gilbert hostage this offseason, but he has every right.
"The King's" signature on his contract comes with many terms and conditions. The offseason is supposed to be a time when GM's and ownership come together to figure out how to best use their funds. For the Cavs, the first step has been checking off items from LeBron's wishlist. He wanted Kevin Love back, and $110 millon later he got what he wanted. Luxury tax? At this rate, not even that term could continue to apply to the financial lengths James is forcing his franchise to go to.
Not only does James want his core group (Kevin Love, Iman Shumpert, JR Smith, Kyrie Iring) all back and under contract, he wants more. Jamal Crawford and Joe Johnson's names have been tied to the Cavs, and neither of those two players come with a cheap price tag.
On the surface, it looks as though LeBron is actively bankrupting the franchise in an attempt to fulfill his basketball destiny, before even signing his own contract. We're used to seeing holdouts in the NFL, but this is more puppetry than we're accustomed to seeing a professional athlete perform. Desperate times call for desperate measures, which is why I give LeBron more than just a "pass." I'd go as far as saying he's doing Cleveland a favor.
It's easy to try to make this about LeBron and Dan Gilbert. Yes, they have history. Yes, Gilbert looks like an absolute ignoramus in retrospect for the childish way he acted. That would be missing the point though. Want to know who this is really about? Carlos Boozer. It's about Larry Hughes, Antawn Jamison and aging Shaq. He's seen how the Cavs tried to wine and dine him with free agents as a young star, and he's scared to get sick from the same sub-par meal.
On another level, does anybody honestly think that same roster stands a chance against the West next year? With Golden State returning most of their beef and the Spurs adding LaMarcus Aldridge and David West, can you blame LeBron for forcing the Cavs into an incredibly expensive arms race? Even adding another player like Joe Johnson might not be enough to keep up.
To finally put this point to bed, of course he's being selfish. He wants to be known as the greatest basketball player of all time. He wants to leave the game with hands full of rings and his name in everybody's mouth. Ego is inherently wrapped up in everything he does. He's absolutely doing this for himself, but he's doing it for Cleveland too.
The owners and managers of Cleveland sports franchises have been torturing their fan bases since their inception with awful decisions. LeBron is trying to take it out of their hands as much as he possibly can. Don't blame the man in the system, applaud him for trying to change it.