Well it only took about 20 minutes before I saw the footage of the first James jersey set on fire. I thought it was an interesting, and possibly classless move by ESPN, jamming that shot in LeBron’s face with no warning. Was this their way of proving that the whole spectacle wasn’t taking place in a bedroom? Bron brushed it off pretty well, but I’m still not sure he understands the magnitude of what he just did to Cleveland. It’s a historically painful move in a city that’s had more than its share, and I imagine the backlash against LeBron will go way off the deep end. Jersey burning is likely just the start, but it was an unprecedented move. I can’t think of a parallel. I really can’t, and what a coup for Miami.
I imagine the LeBron James Heat jersey will quickly become the best-seller in the league, maybe the non-conformists of the bunch will pick up a Bosh, but then again perhaps Miami will shrug this off like they do most things. I can see the Heat being more popular elsewhere than they are in Miami. Don’t get me wrong, they’ll sell out every game and all of that, but we heard a little bit about how this could change the culture of the city. I’m not so sure about that. Miami, to me, seems like a place that explicitly cannot be changed by sport. That’s not Miami. Or should I say, not “South Beach,” because that is after all where LeBron is taking his skills. I assume he was still talking about basketball at that point.
One of the reasons why this isn’t a move that sits well with me is that Miami doesn’t strike me as a great sports town. Is it a Dolphins town? Because I know it’s not a Marlins town, or a Panthers town, and except for a season here and there it hasn’t been a basketball town, either. Sports are the crutch for cities with less to do. Midwestern towns. The misanthropic cities of the Northeast. That’s where sports takes hold. Cubs culture could never exist in Miami, for example. Not that I really blame anyone in Miami for this, necessarily. If I lived there, I imagine I wouldn’t waste my time with terrible sports teams, but maybe that is one of the reasons why I would never move there. That and Euro man-thongs as far as the eye can see are probably the two main reasons. I get the feeling that this will be a big deal in Miami for a while, and then it will be fade to black. Remember the Heat have already been a big deal once, but the shine of that title and the attendance numbers had already started to fade away.
I will admit that this is good news for the NBA. It’s going to be a season long story. I imagine every time the Heat lose a game it will be news, especially if they are as good as I imagine they will be. I don’t foresee regular season problems for this team no matter who they fill the roster with. How Wade/James and Bosh meld together will be another subplot, and we’ll likely see another evolution in the game of LeBron. Are he and D-Wade both going to average 25? Which one is ok averaging 19, while the other one averages 28? I’m not sure. I don’t like the notion of LeBron deferring, or not being the dominant force. Is he ever going to go off for 50? Maybe he’ll try to do something insane like average a triple double, I have no idea.
I don’t know enough about the NBA to say whether or not this guarantees Miami titles. Some experts seem to think that isn’t the case, but I’m not sure if that isn’t the standard contrarian nonsense. One or two more guys take a pay cut to play, and they are going to be the favorites. And, regardless of what happens the general perception will be, title or bust. So, while LeBron may have taken a bit of the focus away from his game on an individual level, the pressure on the team will be even greater…if that’s possible.
For the cities that missed out, it’s a nightmare of varying degrees. Chicago will be ok. Carmelo in 2011? Or after the lockout? Rose/Melo and Boozer vs. Wade/Bron and Bosh…sounds pretty good. New York will get their bodies as well, but Cleveland is decimated. There’s nothing left, no one left to sign. I can’t imagine what this will do to attendance, to everything associated with this team. We probably need to orchestrate this franchise winning the lottery again soon, because if we learned one thing in this whole process it’s that NBA stars prefer South Beach to south Lake Erie.