Unless you’ve locked yourself in a soundproof vault in Stan Van Gundy’s basement, you know by now that LeBron James just announced his decision on ESPN: he’s joining the Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami.
First off: wow.
This is a potentially epic, landscape-shifting decision that has so many threads to follow. Among them are: the foundation for a possible long-term powerhouse in the NBA; the against-the-grain, true-to-their-word decisions made by James/Wade/Bosh to turn their backs on big dollars in favor of something more; the shattered hearts in New York, Chicago and, most of all, Cleveland; and the exponentially hotter spotlight that is immediately drawn to Miami.
The unprecedented nature of this move makes it hard to grasp — and has made it hard to grasp and believe for the past couple weeks, despite recent reports asserting that it was, indeed, the real deal.
For those of us who doubted that this could happen, we should’ve allowed ourselves to read more freely into the tea leaves the trio has scattered along the way. James saying, “It will be fun to get all the free agents together and, you know, figure out a way how we can make the league better,” in his interview with Larry King was one big hint. So were the apparent rumors of a secret pact being formed by these guys (along with Chris Paul — another story for another day) during the 2008 Summer Olympics to eventually join forces.
In the end, the moral of the story that the trio seems to be weaving is this: friendships and championships are more important than shots and dollars. Yes, there were a lot of things to shake your head at here — particularly concerning how James handled his departure from Cleveland, how he might have lost out on a better chance to win championships in Chicago, and how James and Wade could be seen as shirking the challenge of following in the tracks of the relentless Kobe Bryant and being balls-out, unquestioned leaders of successful teams — but there are some intriguing, admirable things going on here that shouldn’t be lost in the smoke rising from burning No. 23 jerseys in Ohio tonight.
Is Michael Wilbon right? Did the Boston Celtics set a new trend of “big threes”? If so, is it a good trend? Should we admire or frown on friendships overshadowing hate-fueled competition? Is Kobe the last of a dying, eff-you-I’m-better-than-all-of-you breed? Are the Heat contenders this season, or are they just paper tigers? What if these guys don’t end up winning any titles? Is James completely out of the running for being the all-time greatest? Is he now the most-hated player in the NBA? Should all of James’ suitors have spent more energy on getting the ear of Gloria James?
The list of questions we can ask tonight abound, along with the list of ways we can tear this decision apart.
While there are plenty of negative sentiments about all this churning in my head, for the next few days I’ll choose to sit back and enjoy all the reactions while basking in this unusual afterglow, which will take weeks, if not months, to sink in. I’ll also choose to look at the brighter side of this occasion.
We are all witnesses — to unselfishness trumping pride, visions of rings outshining dollars, the idea of “team” towering over the notion of “me.”
I’m really looking forward to the 2010-11 NBA season, and I’m very excited to see the 2010-11 Miami Heat in action.