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Lou Pickney's Online Commentary

LeBron Leaves Cleveland

Friday
July 9, 2010

It has been quite an interesting last couple of days, hasn't it? Some various thoughts:

-A good friend of mine contacted me asking for Bill Simmons' e-mail address, wanting to pass it along to someone else who had hoped to write Simmons with a comparison of LeBron James signing with the Miami Heat to Hulk Hogan turning on WCW and joining the nWo at the 1996 Bash at the Beach. Too late on that; Simmons himself posted this link to the '96 Bash on Twitter three hours before last night's LeBronathon, and had more in his column on espn.com today.

-Dan Gilbert wrote perhaps the highest profile "Lou Pickney strongly-worded letter" ever by an NBA owner about a former player. But Gilbert tainted it by posting it in a Comic Sans font. The font choice drew about as much attention as the rage that his letter was laced with, to the point where Twitter had "Comic Sans" as a trending topic last night and the Wall Street Journal posted this article about the silly choice of font. I'll put the next paragraph in the same font (including size and color) so you can see it for yourself.

It turns out that Gilbert has been fond of Comic Sans for some time, according to the aforementioned WSJ post. The oddball font has been utilized by the Cavs in courtside promotions of cavs.com, something that I noticed (and mocked) during the past couple of seasons. It's hard to take something seriously that uses a font better suited for a lame punch line in a Beetle Bailey strip.

-The one-hour LeBronathon, officially titled "The Decision", was a low water mark for ESPN. Promises were made that LeBron's destination would be revealed in the first 10-15 minutes of the show, but naturally it took longer than that for the news to be revealed. In poker that's a slow roll, taking your time to flip over a winning hand. It's also a dick move. As much as I like to razz on Cleveland Indians fans for their years of torment, the city didn't deserve to be teased by LeBron like this at all.

The production of the event was sloppy. The choice of Jim Gray as the interviewer was curious, particularly since so many people harbor resentment toward him for a number of reasons, including somehow managing to make the villified Pete Rose look like a sympathetic figure during an infamous interview during the 1999 World Series. Gray is a freelancer who, according to reports today, received payment from LeBron to conduct the interview.

Perhaps it was Team LeBron who wanted to draw out the suspense as long as possible. But instead of suspense it was a long, drawn out torment. My former co-worker at WEHT, Lance Wilkerson, perhaps put it best on Twitter last night: "This is worse than waiting for the police officer to comeback wondering if you are getting a warning or a ticket."

-Despite spending five years in Florida, I don't have many friends who are Miami Heat fans. My friend Jimmy DT is the exception. He is a hardcore Miami fan across the board, and he naturally spoke out in favor of LeBron joining Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in south Florida. But, besides Jimmy, the reactions from friends have been a mix of anger, disappointment, and disdain.

-My girlfriend Stacy had been an ardent supporter of LeBron James. She cheered for the Cavs because of him. She told me she would have cheered for him in Chicago, even if that meant having to pull for Joakim Noah (her most hated NBA player next to Kobe Bryant). Her reaction after last night? Disgust.

LeBron James and the Cavs prepared for tipoff in Atlanta (May 9, 2009)

In May 2009, Stacy and I traveled to Atlanta to see LeBron play with the Cavs in a playoff game against the Hawks. Now? She's done with him. The horribly-conceived primetime announcement, the hemming and hawing, the way that LeBron tortured the city of Cleveland... it was too much for her. LeBron will still be an outstanding basketball player, but he'll have far fewer people cheering for him after the stunt he pulled.

Ultimately, it's not that he left Cleveland, it's *how* he left, that will forever haunt him and the legacy he built with the Cavs franchise. Remember, he lead them to the NBA Finals in 2007, a place that the team had never been before. But it will take a long time for Cleveland to get over this, and I suspect that many there will hold LeBron in contempt indefinitely into the future.


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