LeBron James’ place in history is set. He will be remembered as one of the top 5 players all-time, a lock first-ballot hall of famer, a frequent MVP, and a world champion. He will be looked back on as one of the greatest team players of all-time (he’s already dished the 18th most assists ever, and players continually lined up to play alongside him). He will own some of the most incredible playoff moments of his generation (I chronicled the top 3 last summer).
He’s attracted drama like a Kardashian every step of the way. This season has seen more of it than almost any other time in his career, including this staggered jog to the finish line. You’d think after 13 years in the NBA you’d try to avoid the distractions, deflate the conspiracy theories, douse the rumor mill with cold water. LeBron though, has helped push small deals into Big Deal Territory.
This week he unfollowed the Cavs official Twitter account, which only in LeBron World is even a discussion topic. The explanation could’ve been very easy. I’m going into playoff mode. Just trying to quiet some of the noise. Nothing personal.
Instead, he was caught staring into space like a raccoon looking down the grill of a dairy truck. He blurted, “Next question,” and then upon fielding the next question abruptly ended the whole media session. This is like expecting a conversation about dry cleaning with the wife over dinner, and her asking why there was someone else’s bra under the bed.
(Silence) Next question.
This bizarre exchange follows the report from ESPN that he would entertain leaving the Cavs again (perhaps in a few months) if the franchise takes him for granted. That followed cryptic tweets about owning mistakes. Which was around the time he worked out in Miami with Dwyane Wade. Which was three weeks prior to stating he would love to once again play with Wade, and Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony someday.
Hey LeBron. WTF?
There was rampant speculation about his relationship with teammates at the end of Cleveland Part I. He then orchestrated the dramatic and callous Decision. There was his undermining of Erik Spoelstra when he first arrived in Miami, which also happened to be during his alpha dog struggle with Wade. He had strife with Pat Riley when he departed the Heat. He scoffed at David Blatt’s coaching expertise. He told Kevin Love to start fitting in instead of “fitting out.” Whew, this is like The Bachelor finale.
Part of this undoubtedly is that LeBron is the sun around which the NBA solar system revolves. Steph Curry might be taking the throne as the league’s best player, but James is still the gravitational center. So what LeBron does is pounced upon like Instagram dog-lovers on #puppyday. But he’s also strategic and savvy. He hasn’t built his financial empire and influential persona by being a rube. He knows the power of his actions. So all of these little bread crumbs he’s dropping are leaving a soap opera trail leading directly to his front door.
The Cavs should be enjoying this run as much as possible. They should be giggling to themselves that the West playoffs will meat grind the Warriors, Spurs, Thunder and Clippers. In comparison, Cleveland will only need to beat a few good teams, but no great ones to make it back to the NBA Finals. The Cavs have essentially cruised to a one-seed while the Spurs could win 70 games and not have home court advantage in the West Finals.
Happy days are melodramatic days in Cleveland right now, and everything in that organization starts and ends with LeBron. The Cavs don’t seem to be enjoying any of this, especially their superstar. Like they’re staring into space.
D.A. hosts 6-10pm ET on the CBS Sports Radio Network. He has hosted The D.A. Show (aka “The Mothership”) in Boston, Miami, Kansas City and Ft. Myers, FL. You can often catch him on the NFL Network’s series “Top 10.” D.A. graduated from Syracuse University in ’01, and began looking for ways to make a sports radio show into a quirky 1970’s sci-fi television series. Follow D.A. on Twitter and check out the show’s Facebook page. D.A. lives in NYC, and is a native of Warwick, NY.