Last night, we all witnessed the long-awaited climax to the 2010 LeBron James free agency circus, resulting in his controversial decision to pack his bags for South Beach. Now that a day has passed and it’s had some time to really sink in, let’s take a look at some of the potential fallout from the Miami Heat signing. As entertaining as the sight of LeBron running the floor with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh may be, it appears that the general sentiment around the league and from most NBA fans not living on peninsulas, is big-time disappointment. Commissioner David Stern and NBA executives have to have mixed feelings as well. While the 2010-11 Miami Heat will undoubtedly be must-see TV, it also means that the league, which already suffers from a shortage of legit championship contenders, just lost a middle-America market and recent perennial powerhouse to probable lottery obscurity for the foreseeable future.
But not if Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert can help it. In a jaw-dropping letter to Cleveland fans, Gilbert vilified James for his alleged traitorous decision and vowed to do whatever it takes to win an NBA Championship before LeBron. Time will tell if Dan Gilbert can back up his rant, but we’d put on our money on LeBron in that race. After hearing reports that Gilbert learned of James’s decision on ESPN without a courtesy heads-up call or any kind of outreach, its understandable why he would feel so badly scorned. Granted, some consideration would have been nice, but maybe he should have put some real talent around his superstar during the 7 years that LeBron put in work for the city of Cleveland. Had he done a better job of that, we might not have ever gotten to this point.
Aside from the ticket and merchandise revenue, Cleveland also loses its spot on the NBA map. Miami has never been known as a great basketball city, but folks in South Beach are still toasting to the news, while former fans in Cleveland are burning their #23 jerseys in the street. Out with the old and in with the new. LeBron and the number 6 are headed south, and as of last night, the NBAstore already had LeBron’s Miami Heat jerseys ready for purchase. But how many will they sell when it seems that most NBA fans are disgusted with the decision? The answer is plenty. You can’t kill that kind of star power, even when you throw some mud on it. Fans will likely come around sooner rather than later, and before you know it, the King will be back in the good graces of most.
Jerseys will always sell, but will the move to Miami effect Nike and LeBron’s popularity/marketability? Regardless of where he’s playing, LeBron’s name and signature will still move units, and his sneakers will still sell proportionately to the quality and aesthetic/performance appeal of the end product. Like the NBA, Nike loses a midwest homebase, but whatever sales are lost in Cleveland will, hopefully for them, be made up in Miami and the southeast region. The brass in Beaverton has to be a little frustrated that they now have two mega-stars playing in one city, but they cant really do anything to team them up, unless they let down the well-guarded wall that has kept Nike and JB so separate for so long. Could a “Nike LeBron VIII x Jordan Wade 1” fusion be in the works already? Let’s hope not, but would anyone be surprised? Check out some “LBJ Decision 2010” goodies after the jump, and let us know where you stand on the LeBron to Miami debate.
In case you missed it:
Dear Cleveland, All Of Northeast Ohio and Cleveland Cavaliers Supporters Wherever You May Be Tonight;
As you now know, our former hero, who grew up in the very region that he deserted this evening, is no longer a Cleveland Cavalier.
This was announced with a several day, narcissistic, self-promotional build-up culminating with a national TV special of his “decision” unlike anything ever “witnessed” in the history of sports and probably the history of entertainment.
Clearly, this is bitterly disappointing to all of us.
The good news is that the ownership team and the rest of the hard-working, loyal, and driven staff over here at your hometown Cavaliers have not betrayed you nor NEVER will betray you.
There is so much more to tell you about the events of the recent past and our more than exciting future. Over the next several days and weeks, we will be communicating much of that to you.
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.
Some people think they should go to heaven but NOT have to die to get there.
Sorry, but that’s simply not how it works.
This shocking act of disloyalty from our home grown “chosen one” sends the exact opposite lesson of what we would want our children to learn. And “who” we would want them to grow-up to become.
But the good news is that this heartless and callous action can only serve as the antidote to the so-called “curse” on Cleveland, Ohio.
The self-declared former “King” will be taking the “curse” with him down south. And until he does “right” by Cleveland and Ohio, James (and the town where he plays) will unfortunately own this dreaded spell and bad karma.
Sleep well, Cleveland.
Tomorrow is a new and much brighter day….
I PROMISE you that our energy, focus, capital, knowledge and experience will be directed at one thing and one thing only:
DELIVERING YOU the championship you have long deserved and is long overdue….