Jan 4, 2011, 2:57 PM EDT
Among the seemingly innumerable things LeBron James has been criticized for — from the legitimate to the ludicrous — was the complaint that he needed to let Cleveland know much farther in advance he was gone. If he was not coming back, he had an obligation to let them know so they could get something for him in a trade rather than him just walking away and crushing the franchise.
Poppycock, said Bobcats coach Paul Silas. Remember that Silas was LeBron’s first coach in Cleveland so when the Bobcats took on the Heat Monday he was asked about it.
“I’ve been on buses where the general manager gets on the bus and tells a player he’s traded. They don’t (let) him know ahead of time,” Silas said. “Why should (James) let people know? He did what he wanted to do and he had that right. He gave the Cavaliers seven great years.”
It’s true that often teams give players no warning about uprooting their families and lives and sending them across the nation.
As Henry Abbot wisely points out at TrueHoop, how you view what LeBron did in not notifying the Cavaliers goes to how you view their relationship. If it is simply employee/company and he fulfilled his contract then he has every right to leave without notice. But if you view sports more like a marriage with cooperation between to highly profitable ventures (players and franchise), then leaving without notice like that is cold and cruel. The fans of Cleveland certainly felt that way, but that is different from the business itself.
As with most things, the truth likely is in the middle somewhere and not always crystal clear. I’ve said before that I think how Carmelo Anthony is dealing with Denver – as ugly as it is and will play out to be — is more fair to the organization than what LeBron ended up doing.
But when did LeBron really know he was leaving? Remember that throughout last season and up to the playoff loss to Boston — and even after it for many — it was believed LeBron would stay. Views were conflicting, but that was the conventional wisdom and every leak seemed to say Cleveland was certainly in the mix.
If Cleveland really was in the mix until the end than I’m not sure how you ask LeBron to treat them a lot differently. Call a day or week earlier, does that really change anything? However, if Cleveland was out of the picture before the trading deadline (or was never really in the picture at all) then what he did was pretty cold.
I tend to think he didn’t really plan to leave; rather he planned to bring Chris Bosh or someone else in. He only left when that didn’t work and Miami presented itself. And if that is true, the unfortunate ending of the LeBron and Cavaliers relationship may never have played out much differently.