Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Spare Me LeBron!

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH

When I read a Detroit News story that the "NBA holds its breath over LeBron James," I was ready to gag!

I don't give a damn where James plays! For all I care, he can play in Russia, Spain, Israel, Greece or join NBA castoff Stephon Marbury in China.

If it weren't for Magic Johnson, Larry Bird or Michael Jordan, there wouldn't be LeBron James. Once upon a time, the NBA Finals used to be shown on tape delayed after 11:30 PM following the late local news.

As talented as James is, there is no doubt that he's revitalized a franchise that was a mess when he joined it. The sellout crowds in downtown Cleveland have generated revenue for all types of businesses, especially restaurants and bars. I could only imagine how backed up traffic would have been if he made the old Richfield Coliseum was his home court since it was located in the suburbs.

I've always had the utmost respect for Cleveland fans. This Midwest Blue-Collar Town appreciates a great effort and they'll support their teams. James has made the Cavaliers relevant by winning two straight MVP's along with leading his squad to back-to-back 60 win seasons. The Cavaliers are fun to watch.

Will the Cavaliers ever win a title while he's a member of the organization? We'll know after July 1 when he becomes an unrestricted free agent. The Cavaliers have the ability to offer him $30 million more and a six-year contract therefore, he'd have to take a pay cut to play for a five-year deal anywhere else.

When you look at the history of the Cavaliers, this is an organization which fired former Detroit Pistons Coach Chuck Daly during the middle of the 1981-82 season when he posted a 9-32 record. All Daly did was win two NBA titles with the Detroit Pistons and used another former Cavalier named Bill Laimbeer to help him win those championships.

Daly also won an Olympic Gold Medal with the original "Dream Team" in 1992. He is the only Hall of Fame coach to win an NBA Championship and Olympic Gold Medal.

You can rest assure that if Daly were alive, Cavaliers Owner Dan Gilbert would hire Chuck and this would be enough to entice James to stay.

In the meantime, Gilbert has to think of a contingency plan to figure out who will replace his current coach Mike Brown. I think Brown has underachieved with this group of players and isn't the answer. Can Gilbert lure a championship caliber coach to Cleveland? We'll find out soon because you know that James won't accept the current situation now that he has the power to control his professional destiny.

When Pistons boss Joe Dumars made the decision to fire Rick Carlisle, he had his plan in place to lure Larry Brown to Detroit. The moved produced two trips to the NBA Finals and one championship. Don't expect Dumars to give Gilbert any advice how to handle his current situation.

When I heard this article mention that James was holding five teams hostage, that was ridiculous! To me, the word hostage can relate to a couple of areas.

First, it means a human beings life is being threatened because of a violent act. The first time the word hostage meant anything to me was during the Iranian Crisis when Jimmy Carter was the President and these people were in captivity but were released when Ronald Reagan took over the oval office. There are many other examples.

Second, in the sports world, I've seen owners hold cities hostage that if they didn't build a new stadium, they'd move their teams. Cleveland dealt with this first hand when former Browns Owner Art Modell moved his franchise to Baltimore and became the Ravens. Cleveland would spend millions of dollars to build another stadium to create the rebirth of the Browns.

This story said that five franchises are being held hostage. The Cavaliers, New York Knicks, New Jersey Nets, Los Angeles Clippers and Chicago Bulls.

Please, Spare Me LeBron!

If James doesn't like to lose, then he better stay away from the Knicks, Nets and Clippers. If the Knicks couldn't get Patrick Ewing a championship ring and he had more talent than James would inherit, what makes LeBron think he's going to win a title anytime soon? Just because the Knicks have cleared out a lot of salary cap space to land James and another prime free agent, the rest of the roster will be filled in with draft choices and role players.

The Nets and Clippers are known more for their yearly appearances in the NBA Draft Lottery.

Once upon a time, the Brooklyn NY., area was known for the Dodgers. Even though the new owner is a billionaire Russian named Mikhail Prokhorov and James idol Jay-Z is a minority owner, thus there are deep pockets to land players, sports fans associate this area as the former home of the Dodgers. James won't be able to see a Dodgers game at the old Ebbets Field because as my late Uncle, mentor and friend Ernie Harwell would say, these memories are "Long Gone."

Why would James want to play second fiddle to Kobe Bryant as a member of the Los Angeles Clippers, undoubtedly the worst franchise in NBA history?

Since LeBron has all the money in the world, he should take a major pay decrease and play for the Lakers. He'll have plenty of opportunities to win a ring.

As for Chicago, that's Michael Jordan's town. Does he really want to play in Jordan's shadow? With the right coach, the future looks good for the Bulls especially with Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah in their core group. If Chicago is able to lure Dwyane Wade home, then is able to sign James, this would make Bulls games a tough ticket at the United Center.

Miami could be a good fit for James. This would be a great way for the Heat to entice Wade to stay in South Florida. The lure of South Beach, no state income taxes and warm weather might be too good to pass up. He could always buy Shaquille O'Neal's home or even talk the center into returning to the home of his fourth championship.

The Heat have a good young nucleus and you can rest assure that if Pat Riley senses an opportunity to win another championship, he'll return to the sidelines despite the fact that current Miami Coach Erik Spoelstra has done an excellent job rebuilding this franchise. Riley would cast Spoelstra aside like he did with Stan Van Gundy.

For some reason, I have a feeling that James, Toronto's Chris Bosh, Wade or Phoenix's Amare Stoudemire are devising a plan to find a team they can play for. Especially James, Wade and Bosh since they did win a gold medal together in the 2008 Olympics. They developed chemistry and won before, why not try it again?

If there is a consolation prize Cleveland, if James leaves, former Texas Longhorns quarterback Colt McCoy wants to play in your city and brings a 45-7 record as a starter. The only problem is you'll have to wait a year or two because he'll be holding a clipboard while learning the NFL game. But it's just a matter of time before Mike Holmgren turns that franchise around and attempts to take a third team to the Super Bowl, referring to the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks.

No matter what happens, when James returns as a visitor, Cleveland is guaranteed at least 1-2 sellouts a year. Additional sellouts will come if he faces the Cavaliers in the playoffs.

In the meantime, just hope Gilbert has enough salesmanship in him to keep James and revamp that roster with his Olympic buddies. That will keep LeBron interested and challenged.

James should only be smart enough to realize that the New York Media is much more ruthless if you underachieve and don't win. They have tons of media that will make you realize that being a big fish in a big pond doesn't guarantee you happiness and success.

Just ask Olympic Coach Mike Krzyzewski. He had a chance to leave his cushy job with Duke to coach Bryant and the Lakers and turned it down. Bryant won another championship with Phil Jackson while Krzyzewski made a good move staying put, therefore winning another NCAA Championship over Butler in April. Krzyzewski is "King" in Durham, NC.

I remember when Grant Hill left the Detroit Pistons in 2000 and Dumars worked out a sign and trade with the Orlando Magic. Hill didn't feel he could win in Detroit thus the Pistons acquired Ben Wallace & Chucky Atkins. They proceeded to move Atkins and landed Rasheed Wallace which led the team to an NBA title.

Yes, LeBron, Spare Me! You can be replaced.

We all can be replaced because life goes on. If you move to a different situation, there are no guarantees you'll win a title.

Kevin Garnett was lucky it worked out for him in Boston because his Minnesota Timberwolves boss Kevin McHale worked out a trade with his former teammate Danny Ainge to make this transaction happen.

When Wayne Gretzky left the Edmonton Oilers, he never won another Stanley Cup title while that team did, led by Hall of Famer Mark Messier, who ironically also won a title for the New York Rangers.

You can't buy happiness LeBron and a championship ring is one thing your millions of dollars can't purchase. Just ask Karl Malone, Charles Barkley and Ewing along with the many other great players in sports that could never reach the top of that team plateau.

Your best move might be no move and take a trip with Gilbert to Hawaii to help establish how to maintain your throne in your hometown. Who knows, maybe Gilbert might offer you future ownership of the team?

Magic Johnson stayed with the Lakers and has a minority ownership interest with the team.

Mario Lemieux was once awarded a huge contact with the Pittsburgh Penguins and when he didn't get paid, he eventually became the owner of the team and saved the franchise.

Once again, your best move is no move. So Spare Me LeBron!

I don't need to hear anymore drama because the only one being held hostage here is yourself due to the fear of the unknown.

Even though Cleveland hasn't won a major championship in over 40 years, at some point they'll break through. This city would have sold out their former NHL team the Barons if there was a great product on the ice.

Now the question is, are you strong enough to withstand the challenge of pulling it off! If you are, that will be the real slam dunk and more powerful than the ones that you show on the floor every night. If you have enough guts to hang in there, then you'll have statues, freeways, etc. named after you.

So Spare Me LeBron, and don't talk about your uncertain future!

The focus should be on who will be the next NBA Champion. At 25, I still think you have an excellent shot at winning it all as long as you make the right decision on after July 1.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at scottsports33@aol.com and his blog can be read at www.scottsports33.com.

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