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Can't we quit with LeBron rumors? 2008-08-13 News New Jersey Nets

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News » Can't we quit with LeBron rumors? 2008-08-13

Can't we quit with LeBron rumors? 2008-08-13

Can't we quit with LeBron rumors? 2008-08-13
And people wonder why the sports fans of Cleveland suffer from an inferiority complex ... well, thanks for the help.

You won't even let anyone enjoy the greatest native son ever — LeBron James. OK, he's from Akron, but it's close enough. And that's not the point.

It's more than about the lack of championships since the Browns won the NFL title in 1964. Or that they've never been to a Super Bowl thanks to "The Fumble" and "The Drive." Browns owner Art Modell even had the audacity to take the entire franchise to Baltimore, a move so heinous even the NFL had to blink and promise the city an expansion franchise while allowing it to retain the name and history.

2008 Olympic Games


  • Check the Medal Tracker


  • Team USA tops Spain to regain gold
  • Official: Paperwork created age issue
  • U.S. wins men's volleyball gold
  • Olympian banned for kicking ref
  • Omega releases Phelps win photos
  • Brazil tops American women for gold
  • Cuban loses gold, kicks referee
  • Both 1,600 relays golden for U.S.
  • U.S, women claim hoops gold again
  • U.S. baseball wins bronze medal


  • Rosenberg: Questions remain in Beijing
  • Whitlock: Critics spurred Redeem Team
  • Rosen: Team USA's road to redemption


  • PHOTOS: Farewell from Beijing
  • PHOTOS: Day 16 | 15 | 14 | 13 | 12 | 11 | 10 | 9 8 | 7 | 6 | 5 | 4 | 3 | 2 | 1
  • PHOTOS: Olympic beauties | Mascots
  • PHOTOS: Women's beach volleyball
  • PHOTOS: Opening Ceremony

Never mind that people in Ohio are still wondering how the Indians managed to blow Game 7 of the 1997 World Series to the Florida Marlins or how they failed to win the 1954 Series after setting the major-league record with 111 wins. The most recent World Series title is now 60 years ago and counting.

A ray of hope sprung out of nowhere, when the entire region actually won the NBA Lottery in 2003. That brought the 18-year-old King James — born and raised just a 3-pointer southeast of downtown Cleveland — to town on a silver platter. Incredibly enough, the 22-year-old led the Cavs to their first Eastern Conference title in 2007. Sure, they got swept by the San Antonio Spurs in the Finals, but it was an astounding transition.

The national media sang in unison that it was a fluke. The Eastern Conference was pathetically weak, and they were nothing more than a one-hit wonder. The prognosticators also agreed the Cavs wouldn't even make the playoffs in 2008. Well, they did and nearly knocked off the eventual champion Boston Celtics.

But the problem isn't the perception of the Cavs, the Browns having to start from scratch or the Indians' inability to sustain the constant teases of success.

This is about James, who now has graduated from King to president, as he is referred to with the acronym LBJ.

Ever since he signed a three-year extension in 2006, with a fourth-year option that he holds, the static just won't stop that he'll blow out of Cleveland faster than the 101-mph speeding ticket he was tagged with at the beginning of the year. Come the summer of 2010, he would be heading to the Big Apple. The only question being whether it was to play for the Knicks in Madison Square Garden, or open the new building in Brooklyn for the Nets with his bosom buddy Jay-Z.

That appeared to be the only question until this summer, when the Redeem Team convened for the Summer Olympics in Beijing. Now the buzz is LBJ might head for Europe to the highest bidder — $50 million is the price tag.

Finally, Cavs owner Dan Gilbert flipped his lid over the constant buzz. The national media is picking on Cleveland he claimed. Why just about LeBron? Oh, sure Kobe Bryant earlier said he'd go for $40 million. But Danny Boy wants to know why there aren't similar rumors about Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, since they signed similar extensions to James. Even when Bryant was going into free agency, the rumors weren't as rampant. He seriously did look at the Chicago Bulls and nearly went across the hall to the Los Angeles Clippers, but in the end stayed true purple with the Lakers.

More than anything else, the constant bubbling is fostered by the New York media because they're dying for a basketball superstar and James is the biggest one. Of course, it's also fostered by the notion that Cleveland is forever "The Mistake on the Lake," and James deserves better than that.

Exactly, why is that? Does he deserve more than the millions upon millions he makes every year, or need it? He already got the Cavs to build their practice facility in Independence, Oh, right near the mega-mansion he's building. Really, does a guy building a house with a 2,200-square foot CLOSET need more?

The good news is he's never actually said he intends to, or even wants to leave; at least not to anybody who keeps writing or talking about it. Sure, there are sources whispering this and that. They always do and always will. And what's a good story without the New Yorkers trying to big-time everybody anyway?

What James does deserve is a better team around him in Cleveland. Head coach Mike Brown is a terrific defensive coach, but still hasn't gotten a good offensive assistant to help him and James be more efficient with the ball. They don't have a point guard yet, nor a good shooting guard. In fact, the only consistent help he gets is from aging center Zydrunas Ilgauskas, who is by far the senior member of the team, and cursed with feet that barely move.

So really, the issue for Gilbert is more about general manager Danny Ferry than the insistent rumors about James' future. Ferry was handed James to rebuild around after Jim Paxson was fired. Since they won the East in 2007, Ferry has bought time. But the ticking of the clock is metaphorically getting louder every day from the New York and national media. He threw caution to the wind at the trade deadline last year unloading Larry Hughes and Drew Gooden — two keys in the title run — among others for washed up Ben Wallace, streak shooting Wally Szczerbiak and erratic Delonte West.

How about building with a plan instead of wild trade attempts? How about getting a veteran offensive assistant for Brown instead of give the ball to LeBron and get out of the way or a high pick and roll with Z?

Do that and maybe James will be satisfied with being where he is and competing for a championship every year, instead of having to put all of Northeastern Ohio on his back.Granted, he likes to be the hero and is the hero. He obviously likes being the hometown hero, too. There are at least two more full seasons with the Cavs before a decision will be made about his next contract.

So let him enjoy it. Let his teammates enjoy playing with him, and his coaches enjoy coaching him. The only other athlete on James' level to ever play in Cleveland was Jim Brown, and he stayed until he retired, albeit prematurely at 29 to become an actor.

Nonetheless, Cleveland is still basking in its now 23-year-old prodigy, whether it is for just two more seasons or the rest of his career. The incessant news flashes about his future are ridiculous. Just let it be for once — at least until the spring of 2010. Then, and only then we'll know whether he needs to go big time on everybody, or he's accomplished enough to help win a title where he belongs.

In Cleveland.

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: August 13, 2008


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