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But I've got news for these folks... no one really cares about Your Pain. College football fans think you've got it way too good, seeing how Ohio State seems to be the only non-SEC school that wins championships now. You spent most of the '90s running roughshod over much of the American League in a brand-new yard. You have the best basketball player on the planet, who dragged your sorry asses to the Finals, left, got vilified for it, then came back and did it again. You got an expansion NFL franchise ahead of markets like Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Portland, London, and so on. And, well, you live in Cleveland, and either didn't choose to leave it when you became adults, or moved to it for some reason. No one, outside of mass media honks trying to make an Easy Story out of Your Misery, could give a rolling rut at a flying doughnut.
Oh, sure, Cleveland Fan, there's absolutely nothing to worry about in re Prodigal King (LeBron) James going for another one year deal. It's a FORMALITY, for heaven's sake. Just an accounting moment to make sure that his contract will be right-sized when the NBA's contract cap gets turned into Monopoly money in 2016. It's all from the new TV rights deals that is going go make even the most hidebound MLB fan realize their sport is #3 with an anchor.
But, well.. what if it's not?
Imagine, for just a moment, what Chicago might look like with James. It's not as if new coach Fred Hoiberg is any less of a pushover than Cavs coach David Blatt was, and after a lifetime of torturing Bulls Fan, James would have a deep roster that would allow him to take more time off, and not be so locked down on defense. For the Bulls, it would finally get them to the point of not having to reply on fragile PG Derrick Rose to be their bailout option, and to finally get easy shots in half-court when the games get tight. In the lEast, they'd win 60+ games without much in the way of regular season effort, and get to the Finals without more than a couple of losses. And James has never played with a big that would make his life easier than Pau Gasol. For a one-year rental, it's as easy a road to the Finals as you can get.
If a winter in Chicago isn't realistic, what about a return to Miami? They just got what might have been the steal of the draft in Justise Winslow, could have a backcourt of Goran Dragic and Dwyane Wade, and a startlingly good front court of Chris Bosh and Hassan Whiteside to go with James, Winslow, Chris Anderson and more. Unlike Cleveland, Miami didn't kick James as he left, and he knows he can win here. Just like Chicago, it's an auto 60+ wins, and unlike Chicago or Cleveland, he might actually respect the coach. After a season of pretending that things were working out with Kevin Love, or that Matthew Dellevedova and Timofey Mozgov didn't own their livelihood to him, going back seems like ease to me.
I'll rule out the rest of the lEastern pretenders because there's really no reason to make this point too much, but the plain and simple fact is that James on any of last year's playoff teams probably gets that team to the Finals. And while free agent season might swing things a bit, along with the possibility of some high performances from the rookies, that's just how much better James is. So long as he stays in the lEast, that team is the favorite for the Finals. It's just a matter of how exhausted he might be when they start, and whether the club he joins has any real shot at taking down the team from the vastly superior conference.
Now, there's been no evidence that James is even considering any of this. He's not even scheduled to visit teams. But things can change in a hurry, especially when James is seemingly going into wait-and-see mode with Cleveland management to sign some other free agents... and the man is officially on the back nine of his NBA career now, on the wrong side of 30, with only two rings in six trips to the Finals.
To be regarded as not just the best player of his generation, but maybe the best player, period -- and yes, I'd argue it, simply because his supporting casts have been so much less than what His Airness had to work with, and the all-around numbers for James are just overwhelming...
Well, he's left them before to win a championship. Why not again?