Lebron is tanking and it could cost the Cavs a return trip to the Finals, and that’s exactly what Lebron is hoping for. In an interview released earlier this week, Lebron said he would take a pay cut to play with Melo, CP3, and Wade and explained how he would love to do that before he’s done. These were not idle comments made while on the beach on an off-season get-away or private comments to his agent or members of his immediate family. These were comments made in the stretch-run of the playoff push where they have seen their lead over Toronto dwindle to just 2.5 games. This coming on the heels of other controversial (though silly in my opinion) acts where he “unfollowed” his team on Twitter and has made several other cryptic Tweets potentially linked to his teammates, spending way too much time at halftime talking to his buddy that was in the process of destroying his team, and just months before he enters unrestricted free-agency. All I have to ask is what is Lebron up to?
He is acting like the 18-year-old Lebron that came into the league fresh out of high school. He is acting like the “I’m taking my talents to South Beach” Lebron. This is not the mature leader that so many have praised Lebron for being. Is there a more in-your-face way of telling Kyrie and Love that he is not really enjoying them as teammates? Is there a more in-your-face way of terrorizing the same Cavs fans he pledged not two years ago to bring a championship to in Cleveland? Lebron has become the 3-year-old throwing a tantrum on the grocery store floor trying to get the attention of his parents who have been paying far too much attention to his new baby brother. Lebron knows that his spotlight is fading. His relevance is fading. And like too many superstars before him, he knows that once that light starts to fade, it is never so bright again. All of the attention is on Steph Curry and Lebron can’t stand it. Steph Curry and the mighty Warriors have defeated Lebron in the Finals once and I’m wondering if Lebron would prefer not the share the stage with the new king of the NBA in the Finals again this year. He knows that these Cavs do not have what it takes to win it all and another meeting against the Warriors or Spurs would drop his Finals record to 2-5. Is this Lebron’s way of ensuring that his Cavs do NOT make the Finals because he (and his legacy) cannot take another Finals loss?
You may argue, Lebron learned too much from his mistake with “The Decision” to leave Cleveland again. Well, he also has his only two championships from his four seasons in Miami and he had a heck-of-a-lot better time in the process. His popularity was never higher than when he was in Miami and the second he came back to Cleveland his fans welcomed him back with open arms. So tell me again what “consequences” Lebron faced as a result of “The Poor Decision” and why wouldn’t he do it again? Lebron has talked for years about playing with these guys. If he felt like he could win another ring in the process, don’t you think he would do it? Isn’t the best predictor of future behavior, past behavior?
Now you may stick up for Lebron and point out that there is no way Lebron is tanking. Afterall, he just had another 30+ point triple-double and his numbers over the past month have been stellar and I wouldn’t argue. Lebron knows the importance of statistics (“important” as in almost as important as the number of rings he has) when it comes to how he will ultimately be compared to the other All-Time Greats. He would never tank by putting up poor numbers that would adversely affect his legacy. No, no, Lebron is far to bright to do something so obvious. Instead, he tanks the same way he does everything, passive aggressively. So he will undermine the coach, undercut his teammates in cryptic tweets and in the media, he will demoralize his teammates by heaping praise upon former teammates and buddies around the league and fantasize about how much better life would be playing with those guys instead of his current teammates, and he will fly down to Florida on his day off to work out with an oppenent rather than staying close to home, just to create a distraction. This will surely cause the team to falter in such a way that it will justify Lebron to leave Cleveland to go play with his buddies in LA. I’m sure Lebron has figured out that this off-season may be his last and best chance to carry out his dream. He and Wade are unrestricted free-agents and they have already talked about their willingness to take paycuts to play together. After what happened this last year with Griffin and the train-wreck that is the Knicks, both the Clippers and the Knicks would cheer at the prospect of a Melo-for-Blake swap. I guarantee Melo would waive his no-trade clause if it meant playing with LBJ, Wade, and CP3 in LA. CP3 stays put with DeAndre Jordan and now you have a starting five playing for a championship coach that can challenge the Warriors and Spurs. You’re going to tell me Steve Balmer wouldn’t go over the salary cap if he had to in order to make that happen? Lebron could stop complaining about never having enough help, Melo could wipe that stupid scowl off his face, CP3 may get past the second round for once, and Wade, well Wade would just continue being the cool cat he has always been. It’s so crazy, it just might work.
Now if Lebron can just manipulate one of the his teammates, his coach, his front office, or his fans to reject him to the point that he would be justified to leave Cleveland in the lurch once more…