The National Basketball Association has been entirely caught up this week in the future of LeBron James. That can't be LeBron's fault.
Four years ago LeBron played coy with every city that could clear cap space. He took every offer and sat through each pitch. Everyone knew the King could leave, and why would he not? The Cavaliers never put enough talent around him for him to succeed. How many rings does Jordan with without Pippen; how many does Duncan win without Parker and Ginobili?
In truth, those 2009-10 Cavs would have been the Hawks or 76ers of their generation with any other star player. A team meddling in the middle of the East - never good enough to win a title and never bad enough to earn a great draft pick to restock the organization's talent.
Moreover, I understand why he would want to leave Cleveland in 2010. I left Cleveland, although no one cared when I did. The city's revival aside, it's not where celebrities go or where the best nightclubs are. If you aren't a doctor, odds are Cleveland isn't a world leader in your field. I love Cleveland, I hope that at some point my career takes me back to Northeast Ohio. But LeBron was never given a chance to see what everyone else gets. An opportunity to try life elsewhere before you're too old to experience it. I can't blame him for anything but the misguided television special. And even those feelings have mellowed over the years.
This time things have been different.
He accepts that he is in the spotlight, but he isn't embracing it. He never asked for a dozen beat reporters calling everybody he knows looking for a scoop. Nor did he plan an elaborate national television special for when he decided. No source has said he is milking this. Going on vacation and running an annual basketball camp shouldn't be considered anything other than LeBron living his life. In what other situation would we say being silent is tacit approval of everything being said? It makes no sense.
Surely he didn't tip off Chris Broussard what time he was going to visit with Heat president Pat Riley or who was going to be there. Did he ask fans to track Dan Gilbert's plane to South Florida? Absolutely not. Did he tell fans to obsessively check his website? No, he didn't tell us that either. Maybe all these "sources" are in his corner, but surely there is political maneuvering going on by Heat and Cavaliers brass as well.
At the end of the day, who can criticize a man for wanting to talk to his family about a life changing decision. These choices are rarely just about basketball, salary, and taxes as they are portrayed. If his wife and kids want to live in Akron, who are we to dismiss that? If he is loyal to Pat Riley and the Heat, is he any less of a man than if he was loyal to Northeast Ohio? Are we so callous as to think the fans should have more of a say about when he announces his decision than his kids do?
He might stretch this out to boost his ego, but I don't think he is. He's matured greatly from the kid that left at age 25. Whether he chooses to return to Miami or return to Cleveland, doesn't change that fact. He hasn't asked us to study his every move, and he probably doesn't appreciate it either.
We did this.
Our thirst for more information has every person who has ever come into contact with LeBron being named an insider. How could he have changed that eventuality? If he goes back to Miami, we only have ourselves to blame for expecting anything else.