What you may have missed was the reaction of Cleveland, specifically Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, who decided to use the written word to take out his -- and the city's -- frustrations on "King James" after he announced his decision during an amazingly contrived and intelligence-insulting hour-long special on ESPN.
Gilbert's letter was sent out to the media and published on the team's website. Here is an excerpt.
You simply don't deserve this kind of cowardly betrayal.
You have given so much and deserve so much more.
In the meantime, I want to make one statement to you tonight:
"I PERSONALLY GUARANTEE THAT THE CLEVELAND CAVALIERS WILL WIN AN NBA CHAMPIONSHIP BEFORE THE SELF-TITLED FORMER ‘KING’ WINS ONE"
You can take it to the bank.
If you thought we were motivated before tonight to bring the hardware to Cleveland, I can tell you that this shameful display of selfishness and betrayal by one of our very own has shifted our "motivation" to previously unknown and previously never experienced levels.
Gilbert wasn't done. During an interview with the Associated Press, he accused James of quitting on the Cavaliers during the playoffs. Twice.
Gilbert said James quit on the Cavs during their second-round series against the Boston Celtics, who rallied from a 2-1 deficit to eliminate Cleveland. "He quit," Gilbert said. "Not just in Game 5, but in Games 2, 4 and 6. Watch the tape. The Boston series was unlike anything in the history of sports for a superstar." The Cavaliers were beaten by 32 points in Game 5. During the game, James appeared distracted and uninterested, often glaring at Cleveland's coaches as the Cavs tried to foul to get back into the game in the second half. James also made some puzzling postgame comments, saying he had "spoiled" people with his play over seven seasons. Gilbert also said he believes James quit on the Cavs in Game 6 of their series in 2009 against Orlando. "Go back and look at the tape," he said. "How many shots did he take?"
(The answer, by the way, is 20.)
I'm all in favor of holding athletes accountable for their actions. There's no question James was coddled big-time in Cleveland, and Gilbert has to hold himself accountable for a large chunk of that. No one is taken advantage of without letting it happen, and if Gilbert is right in his reaction, he should feel at least partially responsible.
After all, he's the owner, and the organization wouldn't have created an atmosphere were LeBron's every flaw was protected if Gilbert wasn't in support of it.
That said, Gilbert felt he was justified in showing his anger. After all, the fanbase is angry, and they're probably tired of empty promises at this point. That city is starving for a championship team, and the Cavaliers just took a huge step back now that LeBron is on the beach.
James is likely to sign a five-year deal in Miami. That will leave him 30 years old when he can go free agent again. Will he think of returning to Cleveland?
That might not be a good idea.
Yes, James will take his talent to South Beach and leave his soul in Cleveland. His hometown won’t hate him as much for leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers as for the way he left them. Leaving never would’ve been easy, but he went out of his way to humiliate them. LeBron James can never go home now. He’s the Browns leaving town, The Fumble, The Shot, all rolled into one colossal disappointment.
Here's hoping the Browns can get something good out of Jake Delhomme.