I'm from Boston, which to many people seems like it is a world away. Yet in reality, we're not all that different.
Sure, there's that whole Yankees-Red Sox thing, but when it comes down to it, Bostonians and New Yorkers have more in common than you might think. We're both unafraid to cut people off while driving, and we're equally unafraid to let it be known when we don't enjoy getting cut off. We're rude (at times), we don't like tourists (most of the time) and, above all, we are passionate about our sports.
It is for that reason that I offer New Yorkers a chance to save face in the charade that has been LeBron James' free agency.
Look, if it isn't clear enough by now, it's time to accept the fact that LeBron will not be a New York Knickerbocker. For the entirety of the 2009-10 season, LBJ to NYC seemed like a sure thing. Then, the season ended, and reality started to dictate that a union between the world's biggest basketball star and the world's biggest city just isn't meant to be.
For starters, there's the fact that the Knicks could hardly scrape together a squad for a pick-up game at Rucker Park before they lured in Amare Stoudemire over the weekend. Now with Amare sporting a Knicks hat outside of Madison Square Garden, the city awaits with bated breath the decision of LeBron. What's lost in that excitement is the inconvenient little fact that Knicks are still not very good. That much has been documented fairly thoroughly since free agency began on July 1, and it's the biggest reason why The King won't be moving his throne to New York.
The next is simple: LeBron is more transparent than most people seem to realize.
The people of Akron, Ohio, held a "LeBron Appreciation Day." LeBron showed up.
As a free agent, LeBron met with the Knicks, Nets, Bulls, Clippers, Heat and Bulls. He met them in Cleveland.
LeBron worked out at a gym on Monday … in Ohio.
The man is Ohio, through and through. Sure, he'll entertain all these teams, listening to their promises of riches and championships. Yeah, he'll see what Dwyane Wade feels like doing with the rest of his career. And yes, he'll leak the fact that he "probably won't make a decision" in the next few days, but the fact is, the man's mind is already made up.
LeBron James is staying in Cleveland.
Think about everything you know about James. He's probably the second-best basketball player in the game and everything he's ever accomplished has been done in Ohio (OK, there was that detour in Beijing a couple of years ago) and, quite simply, he means more to the people of Ohio than anyone else in professional sports could.
He knows all this, so he'll stay. He will, however, wait to let everyone know. After all, he'll never be any greater or more popular or larger than life than he is right now. He knows that, and he's likely reveling in it. During this free-agency madness, LeBron James has become more than a human — he's become a god-like entity, one for which every team is clamoring to sign.
But they won't get him. It's for that reason, New Yorkers, that it's time to turn the tide on LeBron. He won't be a member of the New York Knicks, and the sooner you accept it, the better this will be for everyone.
It's already reached the point of embarrassment. There was all that fawning from the MSG crowd when James had that ridiculous triple-double in February of '09 (though his 10th rebound was later taken away). There have been Knicks jerseys with "James" and "23" printed on the backs of them for years. There was even the painting of LeBron sporting that Knicks jersey painted smack-dab in the middle of the Rucker Park court. There was also the city's attempts to recruit celebrities to try to lure LeBron to New York.
If you're begging celebrities to beg a guy to come play basketball in your town, you're only setting yourself up for disappointment. So please, fine folks of New York, end the LeBron-to-New York drama sooner rather than later. Nobody wants to get left at the altar.
This warning doesn't come without a proper solution, however. Rather than lay down the red carpet and appear desperate for LeBron, it's time to flip the situation completely. Turn LeBron James into New York's biggest sports enemy. Put him on the level with David Ortiz, Tom Brady and whoever else it is that you guys hate. When he comes to MSG in his Cavaliers uniform next year, boo him mercilessly. Remind him that you're better than he is, and he couldn't handle the pressure in New York. Most importantly, save some dignity, save some face and come out of the free-agency period happy.
It's not too late.