CLEVELAND - People who know me well know that I'm a pretty cool customer.
A nice guy. Mild-mannered.
Very few things in sports, and really in life, bother me. But in the wee hours of this morning, the carnival barking started. And frankly I was ready to erupt.
It began with this video:
Really? We're about to do this AGAIN? Members of the national media, unconvinced that LeBron James is actually happy being back home in Cleveland, are starting to revive the most tired narrative in all of sports.
Time and time again since James came back to the Cavs in 2014, pundits like Stephen A. Smith have put out narratives like this. During last year's NBA Finals, Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical started more speculation. Now, It's The Ringer. I saw the headline 'Might LeBron James consider taking his talents to Southern California?' in The Washington Post. National publications are running with this because LeBron James moves the needle.
ESPN NBA analyst and talk host Jalen Rose has put his two cents in:
Just stop the insanity. Stop it now.
Can I bring up a few points to the carnival barkers?
1. Last I checked, the 2017 Cleveland Cavaliers haven't been eliminated from the NBA Finals yet.
Look, I don't know what's going to happen tonight when the Cavs host the Warriors in Game 4 of the NBA Finals. I think James and the rest of the defending NBA Champions will give Golden State one last valiant charge. Will it be enough? Probably not.
LeBron's attitude both after the Game 3 loss and during Thursday's media availability was almost like a concession speech. I think he knows as good as the Cavs are, this Golden State team is about to be coronated as one of the elite teams in NBA history. But until the clock reaches all zeroes and the champagne is poured in the Warriors' locker room, why don't we hold off on burying this season, shall we?
2. Yes, you can be an NBA superstar and be happy in Cleveland
The reasons given for why LeBron James would want to depart Cleveland for Los Angeles (or wherever) never cease to amaze me.
- He has a home in L.A. (uhh yeah, he's got a nice place in Summit County too)
- He could build a sustainable winner with the Lakers (uhh, he's got a sustainable winner here)
- He could play with his buddies DWade, CP3, and Carmelo with the Clippers
- He could 'shine under the bright lights of L.A.
I'll agree with the argument that for LeBron's business interests (especially his SpringHill Entertainment company, which is growing in the television and movie realm), being in L.A. has some advantages. But James is doing awfully well in that department while based right here in Northeast Ohio.
His family loves being back home.
He has embraced this area tightly. I'll never forget how he was front and center while the Indians were making their miraculous postseason run last fall.
Those are little things, but they just remind you why the idea of LeBron moving out again seems remote.
And remember what he told ESPN.com's Dave McMenamin last summer, "I love it here in Cleveland. I have no intention of leaving."
Which reminds me...
3. LeBron is signed through 2018, so WHY ARE WE BRINGING THIS UP NOW?
If/when the Cavaliers are beaten by Golden State, a very interesting offseason will commence. Except in a Donovan Live! postgame chat with Jimmy Donovan, I haven't brought up the David Griffin situation all that much. The Cavaliers GM's contract expires at the end of this month, and by all accounts, there's been very little movement to get a deal done.
What could that mean? Perhaps Griff just wanted to wait until after the Finals to announce a new contract. Or perhaps there's someone else on the horizon to take over. I don't know. But it could spell blockbuster changes to this organization. And you can bet that if changes take place, it will be with the endorsement of the four-time MVP.
Whether Griffin stays or departs, there will be considerable pressure to try to upgrade the roster. The Warriors have completely changed the dynamic of building a champion. Whereas you used to need a 'Big 3' to win it all, now you're going to need four All-Star caliber players to compete with the likes of Curry, Durant, Thompson, and Green. No small task for whomever is in charge of the roster, especially when you're dealing with a demanding star in LeBron James.
But we still have to crown a 2017 NBA Champion. And figure out who is calling the shots in the front office. And so on. But with all of that uncertainty, let's remember that James will be a Cavalier for at least the next 12 months.
So for the love of King James, please stop the carnival barking and put the 'LeBron is leaving' narrative to bed.
Thank you in advance.
© 2017 WKYC-TV