After months of speculation, rumor and prayers to various gods, LeBron James, during a one-hour ESPN special dubbed “The Decision,” announced he will spend the next slice of his NBA career in Miami. Is James’ decision a selfish or sensible one? What does the move mean for the Knicks? Here to discuss are Press Sports Columnist John Otano, Writer Rashed Mian and Senior Editor Spencer Rumsey.
If King James hadn’t listened to his mom (he uses her to soften the blow of “The Decision”), then he would have taken a huge pay cut to attract the kind of talented supporting cast he obviously needs to win the championship and probably single-handedly ended the Recession, at least in northeastern Ohio. But no such luck. He’s made a nation of enemies, and they’ll hound him on the court and off. So, even before the season begins, he’s the biggest loser in the NBA.
For the rest of The King’s career he will be vilified in Cleveland. The burning of his jersey, which they actually cut to in “The Decision,” is just the tip of the iceberg. James’ ridiculous primetime event where he seemed scared to utter the words “Miami Heat” tells us a couple of things: One, at 25 he is already afraid he won’t win a championship and has to join a dream team to do so, and two, the Michael Jordan comparisons are officially over, no matter how many rings he wins on Dwayne Wade’s club.
Wouldn’t it be great to see an NBA version of Spike TV’s Deadliest Warrior pitting Michael Jordan against LeBron James? The Bulls’ No. 23 would win on every CGI-inspired match-up the show could come up with.
LeBron James and Michael Jordan are two completely different basketball players, both on and off the court. On the court, LeBron is unlike any athlete we’ve ever encountered in the NBA, but while his passing and freakish athleticism are trademarks, it’s the killer instinct he lacks that defined Jordan. It’s the same instinct that went missing when the Cavaliers needed him the most in the postseason, making me believe it will be Dwayne Wade (the one with the ring) taking the last shot when the Heat need it most. During “The Decision,” LeBron separated himself from Michael, prioritizing his desire to become a “global icon.” When Michael Jordan decided to return to basketball after trying his hand at baseball, he didn’t call ESPN and engage in any self-promotion; he sent a fax to the Bulls with two words on it: “I’m back.” You don’t go looking to become a global icon; if you’re good enough, the label will find you. As for his impact on the Knicks, fans should be more concerned with Freddy Krueger (Isiah Thomas) making a return to the front office. Please say it isn’t so.
With the passing of “The Boss,” it just goes to show you how inept James Dolan is as the owner of the Knicks. With the Daily News reporting Dolan might actually want Isiah Thomas to return to the Knicks, it brings back nightmares of that haunting smile. On the court, the Knicks still turned out to be winners in free agency: The team improved while still maintaining salary cap flexibility. The future is bright as long as Dolan continues his real passion—the guitar—and stays as far away from the Knicks as possible.
There’s no contest between Boss Steinbrenner and Jim “Guitar Hero” Dolan. The Boss knew how to put together a winning team—emphasis on team. I also suspect the LeBron brand won’t do much to reverse the long-term decline of the NBA’s popularity, hence Commissioner David Stern’s futile attempts to protect The King from the sting of Cavs owner Dan Gilbert. LeBron’s certainly not in the same league as Jordan, but then, the times have changed.
One thing that hasn’t been mentioned in all of this is Jim Gray’s involvement with the program. For a reporter who was once known for asking tough questions, he came out just as bad as James. Sitting opposite The King, you would’ve thought James was going to have him beheaded if he asked a tough question, so Gray didn’t. “Are you still a nail biter?” he asked, maybe concerned The King would take his land. It was an embarrassment for Gray and something he will have to live with the rest of his life. Of course, the one good thing that came out of all this was the kids. In the end it’s always about the kids…so they say.
We can’t blame the King for his decision from a basketball standpoint. He chose the location that immediately gives him a chance to win a championship and from a viewership perspective, it’s something very exciting that will be garnering attention the NBA needs. The Knicks are a sadly mismanaged basketball franchise. It’s as if Miami accomplished in a little less than a few months what the Knicks had two entire years to try and pull off. Miami’s superior ownership and management breeds an environment for winning and that’s something lacking in the front office for the Knicks. With a tip of the cap to the Boss, Dolan should learn from the late owner and the great winning legacy he left behind. Steinbrenner infused a winning attitude supported by his endless pockets and established a franchise worthy of the bright lights of New York. It’s a shame the Boss couldn’t put his winning touches on a basketball franchise in a city where basketball is a large part of the pulse of sports.