Links To The Present: July 13, 2010

July 13th, 2010 by Tom Pestak

“He said his “real fans” would support him, but he didn’t seem to understand that his real fans, the ones who watched him since high school, live near Akron and Lake Erie. While he continues, in his words, “to be great,” Cleveland suffers. And shows more anger than any place should show over a professional sports figure. But for the fans and people in Cleveland, it feels like unrequited love. Every game James has ever played in Cleveland, going back to his high school days, was a sellout. Fans adored him, and gave him everything they could. Just like his team. The Cavs never gutted their roster to try to save money to keep him, never told him it would hold back on acquiring players until he committed. They tried to win, surrounding him with players they thought he wanted and could win with — to the point that they did all they could to try to acquire Chris Paul the past few days.” [Pat McManamon of FanHouse]

“In that one little hedging moment he starts, ever so slightly, to smile. And everybody knew what that smile meant: it meant, […] Of course, we’ve been planning this for years.” So he smiles, giving the deal away completely, then instantly switches gears and just turbo-lies right into the camera. I thought: this is just like politics! A terrible, totally unskilled liar, telling a completely transparent lie, who then improbably gets let off the hook by the sycophantic moron interviewing him.” [Matt Taibbi on the 5 Funniest Things about “The Decision” (warning: language NSFW or Children)]

“Nobody asked LeBron why he quit on the court against the Celtics during the playoffs. Nobody asked about his phantom elbow injury.” [Scott Raab of Esquire]

“Everyone who objectively watched the Boston-Cleveland playoffs series knows James quit on the Cavs, selling out his teammates and costing head coach Mike Brown his job.” [Jason Whitlock of Fox Sports]

“When James was distracted and distant in this season’s playoffs, I wrote it off to his aching elbow — despite even more marketing types around him, more talk of his coming free agency. Now, it seems he was plotting his exit. It was hard to believe James had the gall to go on national television and dump on his hometown, as he did in his self-absorbed ESPN special. Or how he didn’t call the Cavs with his decision at all. Nor did his agent, or business partner Maverick Carter. It was Richie Paul, a member of his posse, who delivered the bad news to the Cavs once the ESPN special went on the air.” [Terry Pluto on being a fan]

“The implication that James knew his decision and waited, causing the Cavs harm as they waited and missed out on other free agents, was targeted by Stern. The Cavs were not informed of James’ choice until minutes before it was revealed on national television.” [Brian Windhorst on a lot of bad things for the NBA] So Gilbert lashes out, is labeled nothing but a hypocritical “enabler”, is fined 100k,and LBJ is given a pass.  Somehow I doubt we’ll read an article about David Stern ‘The Enabler”.

In a real way, it totally was.  When had there ever been a chance for one athlete to affirm an American city, a region, so powerfully?  It was all teed up so perfectly.  So many years of Cleveland being the butt of so many bad jokes, all to be made right thanks to LeBron, who’d restore balance by lifting Cleveland just as the new flatter twenty-first century took off.  Cleveland: As good as anywhere else, and now, for a time, at least in this very real very measurable way, in the team sport where individuals mean the most, thanks to an individual who was born and raised here, Cleveland would be the best. [Cleveland Frowns]

“Bill Simmons wants to see playoff games…that’s important to him.” [Bill Simmon’s Decision on Clips Season Tickets]

“We are already fools for caring about athletes considerably more than they care about us. We know this and we do it anyway. We just like sports. We keep watching for moments like Donovan’s goal against Algeria, and we keep caring through thick and thin for moments like Dave Roberts’ steal and Tracy Porter’s interception. We put up with all the sobering stuff because that’s the price you pay — for every Gordon Hayward half-court shot, or USA-Canada gold-medal game, there are 20 Michael Vicks and Ben Roethlisbergers. Last night didn’t make me like sports any less — my guard has been up since 1996 — it just reinforced all the things I already didn’t like.” [Simmons Reader Reactions]