“A friend of mine told me, ‘I guess you’ve got to go through a lot of nightmares before you realize your dream.’ That’s what’s going on for me individually right now”
-Lebron James said after his Cleveland Cavaliers were defeated in the NBA playoffs by the Boston Celtics. James is expected to to opt out of his contract and set off a free agency scramble. Other franchises, namely the Chicago Bulls and New York Knicks, have put themselves in incredible positions to lure LeBron either from a financial standpoint, or a personnel standpoint. Still, no matter what anyone said, the Cleveland Cavaliers had the highest chance of retaining perhaps the only player that has lived up to the hype of being the “next Michael Jordan”.
For seven months, Cleveland sports fans have lived and died with the Cavs. Televisions in homes and bars have been tuned to Cavalier games, watching LeBron James, Shaquille O’Neal and the rest compile the best regular season record in the NBA.
But it’s the end of the road now, Lebron James could be be done in Cleveland after he and the Cavs got outplayed by the Boston Celtics in a 94-85 Boston win. It eliminated the Cavaliers from the playoffs, and it was the final game for which LeBron is under contract with Cleveland.
“I want to win. That’s my only thing, my only concern,” he said in his postgame news conference. “I’ve always prided myself … it’s all about winning for me, and I think the Cavs are committed to doing that. But at the same time, I’ve given myself options to this point.”
In New York, 8 million people await that decision.
James didn’t play like the world’s best player in this series, but he was much better last night. After a passive performance in the Cavs’ embarrassing 120-88 Game 5 loss, James had 27 points, 19 rebounds and 10 assists last night. But he also had nine turnovers and was held to 8-of-21 shooting from the field.
James hung around after the final buzzer to offer congratulations to the Celtics, something he failed to do when the Cavs were eliminated by the Magic in last year’s conference finals. Clearly, he has respect for these rivals.
“They played an unbelievable series,” said James, who didn’t use his elbow injury as an excuse for his subpar play. “They had their game plan, they executed their game plan and they won the series, so I just gave them good luck in the next series and congratulations for winning this one.”
James, who got little support from his teammates, was clearly agitated with their sloppy play last night. The scary thought for Clevelanders is that will be James’ last memory of this season.
One has to wonder if the “New York Knicks” chants from the Garden crowd will prove prophetic, as the team is expected to be James’ most ardent pursuer. The two-time MVP gave no indications to where he’s headed.
Where do you think will Lebron James land?