And the Loser in the LeBron Sweepstakes is...
We learned that LeBron James spent seven full years in Cleveland, almost an eternity in today's NBA landscape. Then, he picked up his toys and headed elsewhere. The last I checked, Shaq has played for five, count 'em, five NBA teams. No one will argue that he's a surefire hall-of-famer. Let's remember too that LeBron is 25 years old. Can you remember decisions you made at just over a quarter of a century of living?
Sure, he could have been more professional like Kevin Durant, announcing his contract extension (only $83 million) via Twitter. And yes, I would have loved to have seen #6 in a NJ Nets uniform but hey, the Turnpike is still the Turnpike after all.
Sadly, the real loser in this situation is Dan Gilbert, owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Here's an excerpt of his comments to Cleveland fans the night LeBron announced he was turning down $30 million extra in order to play for another team:
"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."
Does this make future players want to go to Cleveland? Who wants to work in a setting where the boss throws you under the bus five minutes after you leave? Again to reiterate- Cleveland had LeBron for seven full years and did not put a 2nd big scorer in place to augment LeBron. Who's fault is that? Even the GM, Danny Ferry, quit prior to the LeBron debacle.
In an almost funny sidebar, The "Reverend" Jesse Jackson has weighed in, criticizing Gilbert's comments as racist. While I'm not sure that Jackson has any, read it, any credibility as a morality policeman, this only adds to Gilbert's disgrace.
If you're going to lose, do it with some class. Take a lesson from Gilbert and do the opposite. If you have talented people who work for you, treat them well and prepare for the moment when they just might want to play elsewhere.