Janesville76.1°

LeBron-mania is over, so now go cut the grass and do the chores

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Steve Kelley
July 9, 2010

Our long national fret is over.


The diva has decided.


The Chosen One has chosen Miami as his new hoop home.


At last we can go back to the children we’ve ignored as we’ve sat glued to SportsCenter’s ever-spinning news cycles and as we’ve searched the Internet like 21st Century explorers, looking for clues to where LeBron James might play basketball this coming season.


Our lawns, looking like the rough at St. Andrews, finally will be mowed. Our cars, mournfully sitting in our driveways filthy as losers in a dirt-track derby, will get washed.


The King is going to Miami.


Cleveland is dead. Long live the Heat.


Move over, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen. James is joining Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh to form the latest, and maybe the greatest, “Big Three.”


Look out, Lakers, Miami is the next super team and the country’s new villain team, because America likes nothing more than rooting against the best—whether it’s Duke basketball, USC football, the New York Yankees or the Pittsburgh Steelers.


James was wooed by Obama, Betty White and billboards.


He was courted by the Bulls, Knicks, Nets and Clippers, but as he said Thursday night in an ESPN special that had all the gravity of “The World At War,” he chose South Beach.


Of course, Miami deserves this super team about as much as it deserves another day of sunshine. It is about as much of a basketball town as Paris is a rodeo hub.


In the 2006 NBA Finals, as it appeared the Heat was about to fall behind 3-0 to Dallas, the Miami fans—and one uses the term loosely—lustily booed the Heat at the end of the third quarter of the third game.


Miami eventually won that game and turned around the series.


Heat fans give fair-weather fans a bad name.


But, wow, does that half-hearted hoop city have a basketball team worth watching.


The salary cap will challenge the franchise as it surrounds The Big Three with role players. The Heat roster will be filled with 2010 second-round picks and a smattering of gym rats, but really, all Miami has to do now is find one banger and a couple of shooters in the mold of Jason Kapono or Eddie House.


Sure, there are no guarantees.


As much as these three seem to like each other, it remains to be seen how well they will play together. Both James and Wade need the ball in their hands.


But one has a feeling they will find a way to succeed. James will work his Magic in Miami. This Heat has the look of a 60-win team.


In Cleveland, James will be portrayed as the worst person in sports since Art Modell took the Browns to Baltimore.


But he isn’t a villain. James fulfilled his obligation to the home fans. He gave them seven wondrous seasons. He took them to an NBA Finals. He won back-to-back MVP awards. The Cavs had back-to-back 60-win seasons.


Akron’s native son didn’t leave his home state for a bigger payday. He would have gotten six years and $128 million if he stayed with Cleveland. Miami will give him five years and about $99 million.


The Cavs tried to make James happy. They got him guard Mo Williams. They brought in Shaquille O’Neal. They surrounded James with as many pieces as they could fit under the salary cap.


The Cavs built James a practice facility closer to his home, but they couldn’t build him a title team.


Now, at 25, it’s time for James to win championships. He needs to gather rings so he can take his place alongside Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant; so he can be acknowledged as one of the greatest ever.


He doesn’t want to be remembered as the greatest player never to win a title.


After seven seasons in the league, it is his time to ascend.


James can win it all in Miami.


He couldn’t in Cleveland.


He makes the Miami Heat the greatest attraction in the game. The Heat will play on Christmas Day, probably against Cleveland. All of its games against the Lakers, Spurs, Chicago, Orlando, Boston and the Knicks will be must-see TV.


So let the Miami-mania begin.


But first, let’s cut the grass.


Steve Kelley is sports columnist for the Seattle Times.

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