CLEVELAND FANS LIGHT LEBRON JERSEY ON FIRE
To the surprise of exactly nobody, free agent NBA superstar LeBron James announced Thursday that he was signing with the Miami Heat. James joins fellow free agents Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in South Beach.
James’ departure (whatever the reason) hit the city of Cleveland hard. In a personal letter to Cavaliers fans, Cleveland owner Dan Gilbert called James’ departure a “cowardly betrayal.” Gilbert also called James’ leaving, “a shameful display of selfishness and betrayal.” Gilbert then posted on the team website (IN ALL CAPS) “I PERSONALLY GUARANTEE THAT THE CLEVELAND CAVALIERS WILL WIN AN NBA CHAMPIONSHIP BEFORE THE THE SELF-TITLED ‘KING’ WINS ONE.” Gilbert then told the AP, “He quit” during this year’s NBA playoffs. Ouch! Gilbert also called James a narcissist.
Even the guy who wrote James’ biography, called the decision to go to Miami “gutless.” Buzz Bissinger also blasted ESPN’s coverage of the James story calling it ”sycophantic idolatry.” Bissinger said the network’s coverage of James was so lame that it should be renamed BSPN.
Meanwhile, ESPN live cameras showed Cleveland basketball fans burning their LeBron James jerseys after his live television announcement that he was signing with Miami. Cleveland fans were shown crying following the announcement.
There is also the economic aspect of the James story - “Lebronomics” if you will. Gilbert is probably so angry because estimates are the value of the Cavaliers franchise just dropped an estimated $250 million with the loss of James. Another article estimates James bolting to Miami will cost downtown Cleveland businesses $48 million annually in the already economically blighted state of Ohio, which also happens to be LeBron’s birthplace and lifelong home. There are even politics involved in the story. The New York Post claims liberal tax policies were involved in James’ decision. Had James signed with the New York Knicks, he would have had to fork over an extra $12.8 million in state taxes. Meanwhile, by signing with a Florida team, James pays NO state income tax. James left $30 million dollars on the table by signing with the Heat and turning down max money on a six-year contract with the Cavaliers.
Oh yeah, the fact that LeBron, Wade and Bosh all signed with Miami proves one other previously unknown fact. Columnist/Fox Sports Radio host Stephen A. Smith is a genius. Smith correctly predicted nearly two weeks ago that his sources had told him that James, Wade and Bosh would all eventually sign with the Miami Heat.