As the resident FTC LeBron apologist, I'll throw my crap out there to round out. It'll be far more partisan and less kind than Matt and Franco, but, well, they're much smarter than I am.
Here are some things I'm hearing this morning, and why they're beyond stupid:
LeBron is a traitor
Cleveland's pitch was essentially, "if you leave, we'll be dead." Which, incidentally, was exactly the reason he wanted to leave. That's like trying to woo a girl by saying you'll be sad and lost without her. It's cute and works in movies, but ultimately most healthy people want to be a part of something functional, not the pressure of being a savior on a ship that sinks if they stop bailing water. LeBron made it clear what he wanted, and he gave it his best shot with a phenomenally mediocre supporting cast.
Art Modell, to whom every sports reporter is saying LeBron is now number two, took a storied franchise with an ardent fan base, fired Paul Brown, and then left the city for no good reason at all. That is traitorous. That guy you should hate. LeBron played basketball better than just about everyone else in the world, came reasonably close to winning a title with no other scoring options, and then left a team that Chris Bosh wouldn't even consider going to. How is that treason?
Matt referenced Dan Gilbert's little boy screed, and then Gilbert, deciding that he hadn't quite made his franchise seem pathetic enough, started spouting off that LeBron "quit" in games 2, 4, and 5 of the Celtics series. Cleveland Plain Dealer reporter Brian Windhorst (whose reporting throughout this has been tireless and excellent) this morning said that the reason the Cavs don't have a banner is that LeBron didn't play well enough. Like Matt, I can feel a Cavs' fan's pain, but pain is never an excuse for forgetting everything you've learned about sports. LeBron makes an easy scapegoat right now, but if I were a Cavs fan, I think my anger would be more appropriately directed at Gilbert.
The press conference/prime time special/charity freak show was classless
First, cheers to Matt for taking joy in this circus. Professional sports are over the top, the players and owners are nuts, everyone involved thinks they're the most specialest people in the world, and it's nice when some megastar embraces that enough to hijack things while still keeping the insanity confined to a week or two (ahem, Favre). Also, I thought LeBron came off well last night. I'm not saying I would have loved that if I were a Cleveland fan, but how is it bad to turn suspense into a revenue source for charity?
And yes, I know there are some who think using charity for self-promotion is bad. I have worked in the nonprofit sector for years; I volunteer insane hours to a nonprofit now. Trust me, almost all donations to nonprofits are self-promoting in some sense (or for tax purposes). It doesn't mean the person donating doesn't believe in the cause, and it doesn't mean the good work done with that money is less valuable. Cheers to LeBron for raising a ton of cash for the Boys & Girls Club.
He should have told the Cavs first
Yes, because that obviously would have stayed quiet. I mean, just look at the discretion Dan Gilbert has shown in the wake of the decision.
We should all as sports fans band together to hate LeBron and the Heat
Because he... left a bad team with an owner that clearly is an immature jerk? Because he took a pay cut to go to a team with his friends where he felt he could win? Or should we hate the Heat because they successfully did what every other team wanted to do and many were trying to do?
I do not understand this. I am the fan of several teams that disappoint me routinely. It's part of being a fan of a team not named the Yankees. Some players also disappoint me, but my anger is reserved for those who exhibit crappy on-field attitude or idiot behavior, neither of which LeBron has done. He didn't rape anyone, he didn't walk out on his team, and he's been a massive force for Cleveland's economy for seven years. As far as I can tell, he's guilty of playing badly while (maybe) hurt for a few games in the playoffs, and for having a press conference that everyone in the country cared about.
It's the free agent age, and this is business; no team has loyalty, and no players have loyalty. Hating a player simply for going somewhere other than your team, or hating that team for getting him, might be natural for a few minutes, but after that it's just childish.
If the Heat win a championship, it will be diminished because there are three great players
This is the most stupid thing that Jeff Van Gundy and others have said. For the last time, EVERY CHAMPIONSHIP TEAM HAS MULTIPLE GREAT PLAYERS. Does anyone think the Lakers titles with Magic are worth less because he had James Worthy and Kareem? Do Celtic fans take away from Larry Bird that he had DJ and McHale and Parish? And no one apparently ever stops fellating Michael Jordan, who had Pippen, Ho Grant, and Rodman. Kobe has won two things without a great big man, Jack and Shit (and Jack left town). Yes, we remember them as role players now, but they were great players.
If the Heat win, it will be awesome. I will watch every game I can, and I don't care at all about Miami. Three of the best players in the game did what we always say we want players to do: they took less money for a better chance to win.