The NBA All-Star break is one of my least favorite times of the sports year. I’m not a fan of any all-star games in any sports, personally. It’s just not my thing. I did watch the Slam Dunk Contest and yes, Larry Nance got absolutely robbed. Donovan Mitchell had some amazing dunks, especially the one thrown off the side of the backboard, but his Vince Carter homage wasn’t executed that well and Nance’s double-tap dunk was one of the best dunks in recent memory. I know I’m biased toward Nance now that he’s on the Cavs, but even setting bias aside, I truly thought Nance’s dunks in total were better. Regardless, the Dunk Contest once again was excellent and it’s nice to still have impressive and innovative new dunks.
Anyway, as I said, though, I don’t like this break. Football is over, regular season college basketball doesn’t do anything for me, and baseball isn’t quite here yet. Thankfully we have the Olympics to help pass the time, but in general, this is a dead period for sports news.
So what happens in a dead period? It turns into narrative season. I’m not a fan of the use of the word “narrative”, particularly as a catch-all phrase for any story we don’t like, disagree with, or are uncomfortable with, but it truly applies in a situation in which there is no news so we have to try to invent news.
Nobody drives narrative more than LeBron James, either. Of course, much of the LeBron narrative surrounding All-Star Weekend was Laura Ingraham’s inflammatory remarks in which she told LeBron to “shut up and dribble”. I don’t need to add much to this, as LeBron himself said all that really needs to be said. I’ll just add that, as a fan, it’s frustrating and disheartening to see this kind of sentiment thrown around at a player who continues to be the epitome of what a role model in sports looks like.
Beyond those remarks, much of the attention of the media surrounding All-Star Weekend seemed to center around LeBron’s impending free agency. With LeBron playing in Los Angeles this weekend, it makes sense. Most people assume if LeBron leaves, it will be for Los Angeles1, so some thought of this as a dry run audition for his future fans. Countless stories popped up on a multitude of websites all speculating on his future. ESPN polled LeBron’s peers to see what they think he should (66 percent say stay in Cleveland) and will (59 percent say stay in Cleveland) do. Even some Cleveland publications got in on the fun. Heck, I guess this post means WFNY is falling in line.
To me, though, discussion of LeBron’s future seems like such an immeasurable waste of time. It feels like asking me which specific house I’m going to buy two years from now. I don’t know what my job is going to look like then. I don’t know for sure what city I want to live in, what changes might happen with my family, the company I work for now, etc. Same thing for LeBron. I don’t know how he can possibly know now how he will feel in July. So much can happen between now and then. Heck, two weeks ago it felt like a certainty he was going to leave. Today, everything feels like he’s happy and would be open to staying. Who knows how he’ll feel four months from now.
I will say, though, that I really hope he stays. For reasons beyond the obvious2, even. I love the trades the Cavs made last week. The infusion of young, hungry, athletic players is the ideal fit beside LeBron, in my opinion. This is a mix LeBron hasn’t played with a whole lot in his career. So many of his teams, especially the Championship contending teams, have been built around older, veteran players who are chasing a ring or trying to help get another one for LeBron. Playing around solid players in their mid-20s gives LeBron an interesting dynamic to play with as he hits the backend of his career. I think it would be a shame for these next couple of months to be the only time we get to see them grow and develop with LeBron.
LeBron is going to do whatever he wants for whatever his reasons are. And he’s earned that right. None of us know what his motivations are going to be for staying or leaving. He hasn’t said what he wants. Everyone is simply guessing what he might do or what he might want. These last few months of the season felt like they were going to be torture, but now, with the moves Koby Altman made, they’re going to be fun and exciting. I can’t wait to see how these guys all gel around LeBron and I can’t wait for Kevin Love to get back and to take what they’re building now to the next level.
The All-Star Game is over and we’re now in the home stretch. I plan to just enjoy them for what they are and to enjoy watching LeBron play for Cleveland for as long as he chooses to do so. The time for narratives about his future is over. The Cavs have about a month and a half to develop chemistry and then it’s playoff time. So get ready for a thrilling ride over these final months of the season.