Before we begin, let us be clear: We speak not of the LeBron James that was, nor of the LeBron James that is, nor yet of the James that shall be. We speak, now, of the Platonic ideal of a LeBron James: The LeBron James you have never met, nor ever can meet, nor can ever be sued by, but who lives, nevertheless, within your fanbase. Specifically, if you happen to have grown up in the 2000s, and are a basketball fan, specifically of the Knicks.
Act 1: Seduction
He was the best player in basketball. A King. A star. Four straight finals appearances. On top of the basketball world. Any team in the world would give anything to have him as their cornerstone.
If you happened to be a basketball fan who was younger, but let's just say for universal conformity the age of 12, around the 2003 NBA draft you understood why LeBron James just was. Those before you had Jordan and Pippen and Stockton and Malone to look up to. To see what it truly meant to dominate a polished court. For those in need a hero but not wanting to cling on to the reality Kobe Bryant gave us, LeBron was a savior, a breath of fresh air.
He showed us the magic of dribbling a basketball.
You could have paid attention to all the cracks forming in Cleveland. The idea that he wasn't really going to save that city, but he singlehandedly brought them to the finals. He took Larry Hughes to the finals. It didn't matter that he like wanted to win at all costs. Those moves. The NBA seemed to freeze around him as he played. It was a revelation.
Because he got inside your head, LeBron James. He fucked you up.
Act 2: Consummation
You laughed as he went to Miami, not being outraged by the decision was cool. You started to realize that this was the future, and LeBron could just do whatever. It was the best free agent move in the history of the NBA. He held an entire league hostage and took his talent to south beach.
His time there started with a trip to the finals. It was a lockout year you told yourself. He would have won if it weren't for the short season and the randomness of the playoffs. Maybe the Miami experiment was going to be a flop and LeBron James was going to force his way out on to your team.
No. It's not. He followed that up by winning two straight titles in Miami and then coming just short of a third. There was no way he was going to leave, he was just going to use those signature moves to stay in Miami forever and remind the NBA that it was his decision to go there and that you are just left there praying for a savior while he will continue to win titles.
But then the rumors started flying. James isn't happy in Miami. He's toying with the franchise to get what he wants so that they can show him that he is worthy of their time. The cracks once again started showing. Maybe LeBron James isn't destined to stay in Miami forever?
Act 3. Disillusionment
You started hoping. Running to CBA website checkers to see what could be done to get him on your team. You knew he wanted to go back to Miami, because it was just right, but what if he didn't? The scenario began to consume you. You pictured conversations between James's mind and his heart like this:
MIND OF LEBRON JAMES: LeBron James, I have some bad news: you are going to leave Miami and toy with the entire NBA enticing Knicks fans.
LEBRON JAMES' HEART: What?! But I couldn't possibly! I love Miami! Nothing must harm our good standing as an ambassador for the entire league!
MIND OF LEBRON JAMES: It's too late, me and your agent are in control now.
LEBRON JAMES' HEART: Noooooooooooooooooooo! DAMN YOU, MIND OF LEBRON JAMES!
When in reality, a conversation in the imagination of someone who has held the league hostage before goes a lot more like this:
MIND OF LEBRON JAMES: Dude.
LEBRON JAMES' HEART: I don't know, dude. Do we really want to look like that again
MIND OF LEBRON JAMES: Dude.
And then he fucks with everyone. You know he's enjoying this and it goes against everything you now told yourself to believe in. "He wants to win somewhere else!" "He has his rings, now its time for him to build a Legacy!" "We are the most attractive option."
LeBron James stares at you with that smile and let's you know he's a good guy, and that this is a big life decision and you need to respect his wishes and he'll consider your franchise. AND YOU BELIEVE HIM. You sit there eating it up realizing you'll never have these opportunities and its his life, his choices.
LeBron James' second free agency is where his ego took over and got creepy. He's essentially ground the entire NBA to a halt, and is the reason for 90% of free agency transactions. He has become the invisible hand. There is so little genuineness in any of the scenarios that anyone is a fool for falling for him. "He wants to go back to Cleveland to help that city!" Bullshit. "He's always wanted to go to New York." Bullshit. "Winning in LA will finally put the haters to rest." More more more bullshit.
And you sit there taking it because you don't know any better. Before you finally realize what is going on and you yell:
Act 4: Couples Counseling
It's unfair for you to get mad at LeBron James. You realize that maybe that everything going on is leaked by people that aren't him and his true intentions are not really known. The dreams of others are what you hold on to because you can trust those others.
Carmelo brought winning seasons here and this was always supposed to be "his" dream too. You can forgive the arrogance and the takes that are coming out because deep down you know you can trust LeBron James to do what is right. '
Like how do we really, really, really know LeBron? Everything we could have built up in our minds could be a fragment of the media landscape. You work to forgive LeBron James and hope hes forgives you back. You didn't mean to look at everything in the wrong light. He's doing this move from his own heart and doing what is right for him. Basketball players and bloggers have such a weird relationship in America and its sad. We call them babies, weak, selfish, gutless, and thugs, while in reality they are just providing us with entertainment but call us stupid, wrong, on a witch hunt, and lacking integrity. Is that so wrong?
Act 5: Divorce
Cleveland and Miami have the space, and the Knicks have nothing. The Knicks may have Carmelo, but even that isn't assured and he may go somewhere else now that James isn't coming.
And mind you, he isn't coming. He's signaled nothing to show he was even going to come here, yet we eat up his words and treat them like the glowing gospel of a god.
At no point throughout the free agency period are teams assigned personalities that could be hurt. They are just fan-bases, or pawns, used in the LeBron James hype machines. Why would he even consider going to any of them, especially NY or LA, and what did any of them do to LeBron James to allow him to tempt us with such great ferocity. Maybe we all mean something to him, but its superficial enough that he's never going to give us any detail, any closure, any sympathy for it to matter.
To us we are nothing but a new city to live in to do a job that we get entertained by. We're nothing more and we don't have feelings. We are just fans to help motivate LeBron James in his quest to entertain others.
Basketball is transactional. It's a job and a paycheck to a job. That's what makes his occasional pine to the fans even more hurtful.
Act 6: Nostalia
There is no Nostalgia. LeBron James has deluded us into believing there would be a happy ending, only for us to realize that there was none, but he never gave us the option.
We'll look back on this time and laugh at how naive we were and how silly the trade proposals we made in the comments to get LeBron to come. And one day he will. Probably old and he will probably fail at trying to give the Knicks a championship. No matter how close he gets, be it one game away, or not even in the playoffs he's going to storm off that stage and yell something along the lines of "ARE YOU SATISFIED?"
I just hope we were because LeBron James messes you up forever.