Page 2 of 2   <      

LeBron James may have his fun on ESPN, but lose his legacy on court

LeBron James ended nearly two years of speculation by choosing to sign with the Miami Heat, causing heartbreak in Cleveland and hoopla in Miami.

When a major American municipality's identity is that wrapped up in one special athlete, what does it say about Cleveland's self-worth? LeBron made that city millions, made an NBA outpost matter again, and Gilbert has the temerity to call the guy who filled his building "callous" and "disloyal."

You're lucky you had him for as long as you did. He just outgrew you, Cleveland. He fell in love with somebody else. Deal with it.

That doesn't make how LeBron handled everything right, but it makes him look bigger than the place he left.

He looked comfortable in his gingham red long-sleeve shirt, calm -- answering questions from anyone who wanted to ask from an ESPN studio. No tears. A business decision, he said.

He didn't talk in the third person too much, but LeBron James said LeBron James couldn't be burdened with flaming tank tops, that he hoped the angry and livid would understand, essentially saying, "It's not you; it's LeBron James."

But there was something so beyond schmaltz and kitsch that just colored the entire proceeding.

Again, I never had a problem with LeBron leaving for basketball reasons. All that made sense. It was how he chose to say goodbye.

"This process has been everything I've thought and more," LeBron said, moments before announcing he was headed to Miami, where Wade, Chris Bosh and Pat Riley, the architect who outsmarted the Cavaliers, Knicks, Bulls and other suitors, await LeBron.

He said he made the decision Thursday morning after consulting with his mother, Gloria, who was reportedly spending time in Miami this week.

No one believed him, especially when the idea of the three 2008 Olympic teammates playing together in the NBA began during a meeting in late June between LeBron, Wade and Bosh. That's a fact.

This parade of pomp and ego never needed to drag on this long. The moment Cleveland was unable to procure Bosh in a sign-and-trade deal with Toronto, the dream of LeBron staying was over.

The Chosen One became Cleveland's new Art Modell. Beautiful. What a sweet ending.

Meantime, a 21-year-old kid who has been mostly overlooked for the past two days chose to stay in his small market, signing for more years and more money.

Kevin Durant's decision to remain in Oklahoma City was met with little fanfare and even less interest.

And that's too bad for the District native. Poor kid. Maybe in four or five years he can have his own hour-long television special and do it up right, scorning the fans and the organization that launched his career for a sexier suitor, right there on prime time.

<       2

© 2010 The Washington Post Company