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LeBron James faces the offseason: "Office in Small City"

May 14, 2010

Do I even have to preface this story?  The Cavs lost, and they lost in shocking fashion.  That is all. 

LeBron James just spent the last six hours altering his destiny, crossing out every appointment and meeting on his calendar from now until July, making each box of the week into a transparent window, as if time were now transparent and of little consequence--only, how can the moments of our lives be of little consequence?  Moments tend to build and stack into cinder block walls, gather momentum like a freight train, or increase in mass like a snowball, but, with each stroke of his pen, LeBron took a block off the wall, shoveled coal out of the furnace, and unrolled a snowball into a white carpet; and even he was uncertain as to whether his actions were driven by freedom or recklessness.  Maybe freedom is reckless.  LeBron did not want to think about it, yet one's own thoughts are rabid dogs, hard to put down.  LeBron stared through the windows of his office, taking in the cloudless sky before him.  He was a man without obligations.  He could go anywhere, but he chose to stay seated, doing absolutely nothing.

A pulley squeaked outside LeBron's window, as two men lowered themselves by feeding rope to metal wheels.  When they found themselves level with the floor of LeBron's office, they stopped and tapped on the window.  LeBron didn't budge.  He didn't even blink.  They tapped again.  Still nothing.

"I guess it don't matter to him whether we wash it or not.  He ain't movin.  Look at his eyes," the man pressed his index finger against the glass, leaving his fingerprint.  "Jus' look at 'im, Antawn.  He's got goldfish eyes.  I bet if we wait he puffs his cheeks out."  The man demonstrates his theory by puffing out his own cheeks.

"Mo, quit clowning.  If, Mr. James, doesn't want to communicate that's fine, but we ain't gaining nothing by inciting the man."  Antawn begins to wipe the window down with a wet rag, obscuring their view of the office from the outside, and as they washed the window, LeBron didn't move.

"Mr. James?  Mr. James, Mr. Brown wanted me to deliver this," in comes LeBron's secretary, Ms. Varejao, carrying a fish bowl.  "Where do you want this?"  LeBron doesn't answer.  He continues to stare out the window now streaming with water, and he begins to feel sad.  The emotion catches him off guard.  In fact, LeBron's not sure if the emotion is even his.  In fact, he decides the tears welling up in his eyes must belong to his reflection, in the window, and not him.  No, this sadness can not be his.  It must belong to the window.  It must be part of a daily routine: a part of the building's daily maintenance.  That's right.  At age twenty-five, he's too young to cry.   This emotion that's not even his is just upkeep, something that must happen.

"Mr. James, you can ignore me if you want to, but I'm leaving the bowl in here.  I don't need it, and I don't want it," Ms. Varejao places the bowl in front of LeBron on his desk.  The water sloshes a bit as she places it on the cherry wood desk and lands on an envelope, addressed LeBron, that Ms. Varaejao has also delivered.  "Good day, sir."  She walks out and shuts the door.

In the bowl are two Siamese fighting fish, slowly circling one another, flaring their gills, each displaying its colorful fins like a matador's red cloth.  LeBron watches them, studies them, wonders why Mr. Brown wants him to be the proud owner of two Betta fish.  He opens the envelope as the smaller Betta fish charges the larger one:

LeBron, I need you in Boston this week--make that the company needs you.  You need to inform Mr. Garnett, Mr. Pierce, and Mr. Allen that their services are no longer necessary.  I don't care how you do it, just as long as it gets done.  If you need any further motivation, just observe my two fighting fish, MJ and Kobe.  They will teach you all you need to know about competition and survival of the fittest.

Mike Brown

LeBron balled the note up and let it fall to the floor.  The smaller fish was now floating belly up in the bowl, its fins wrapping around it like a shroud.  The larger fish wobbled in the water, drunk on violence, numb to the cost of victory.  LeBron picks up the bowl, raises it above his head, and hurls it at the window, screaming.  The bowl bursts, less like glass, and more like a bubble against the double paned window of the office.

"Daaaaammmmmnnnnnn!" calls one of the window washers, as both the men in their jumpsuits stare into the office window.  The other window washer calls back, "I don't know, but the dude seems a lil temperamental."

Standing in a puddle of water and glass shards, with a dead fighting fish beside his left foot and a flopping one beside his right foot, LeBron flares his nostrils as if they were gills.


Russ said...

Crazy rumor that Delonte West was banging Lebron's mother and Lebron found out before Game 4. LOL if this true.

May 15, 2010 at 3:17 PM
Langston said...

Yeah it started out as a forwarded email, so it must be true. Because if you can't trust an anonymous e-mail from an anonymous author, then who can you trust?

Also, how likely is it that a Cleveland fan just adapted the relationship of Wild Thing and Dorn from "Major League" for this rumor/email? I'd say somewhere between 90 and 1 million percent.

May 15, 2010 at 5:37 PM
Russ said...

I think if you're Lebron you almost want this story to be true. It would help explain his inexplicable performance in the last two games of the series. Instead most everybody thinks he's heartless who doesn't have what it takes to lead a team to victory. This would deflect some of that and people would feel sorry for him put 2 and 2 together.

May 15, 2010 at 6:24 PM
Teach said...

I gotta disagree, Russ. I think that if LeBron was hoping that this rumor is true just to make his own legacy look better, then he's even more heartless than if the rumor is false.

Also, I don't want to sound like a LeBron apologist (but I'm going to), but I'm not ready to write him off as a leader. He's 25, and everything in his life has come pretty easy. I think what we're seeing is him dealing with adversity for the first time. I mean, what other superstar won without any adversity or learning curve? The two examples that first come to my mind are Magic Johnson and Tim Duncan, but they differ from LeBron. Magic was given the keys to a team with other Hall of Famers, as was Duncan, and Duncan had the taste of losing in his mouth from his Wake Forest days, when he failed to move past the Sweet Sixteen.

While this was LeBron's best supporting cast, we probably did over exaggerate it, or at least Mike Brown's ability to make it work and make in series adjustments. In fact, I blame Brown for the Cavs' loss more than LeBron, and I blame Ferry for keeping Brown around so long. Mike Brown is a poor man's Doug Collins. I've got to think that there was a better, more creative coach out there to be had, who might also have had the fortitude to challenge LeBron more.

If winning a championship by age 25 is the only way to be a leader in the NBA, then how many leaders has the NBA really had

May 16, 2010 at 3:03 PM
Teach said...

I also think that writers like Bill Simmons who are already labeling LeBron's career Julius Erving 2.0 are being a bit premature in their assessments, or just as premature as all of us who proclaimed LeBron a king in more than just name, which would also include Simmons. I think what we have is, for the first time, a question mark about LeBron, where before we just assumed. But that doesn't mean the old answer we assumed can be thrown out.

May 16, 2010 at 5:11 PM
Russ said...

I don't really think he wants this to be true, but I think this rumor would somewhat deflect the criticisms against Lebron, which would help his legacy when people looked back 20 years from now. This type of thing would kill any team's chance of winning a championship.

You might be right that we are a little premature in labeling Lebron a non-leader, because people were probably saying the same thing about Jordan in the same point in his career. But right now I don't see the same killer instinct as a Jordan, Magic, Bird, or even a Kobe. And none of these guys would have let their team quit in an elimination game like what the Cavs did in the last two minutes of Game 6 in Boston. That was the biggest problem I had with Lebron in the whole series, beyond the passiveness, the turnovers, etc. Just total lack of maturity, and we'll see if he can grow from this.

May 16, 2010 at 7:24 PM
Teach said...

Yeah, if I'm Danny Ferry, I'm asking myself did I place a coach in front of LeBron who would actually push him to grow or did we as an organization just kneel before him and not accurately assess where he was as a leader.

May 16, 2010 at 8:58 PM
Iceman, AD said...

You know what I blame Mike Brown for? Playing a half-court oriented offense with the best open-floor player/finisher ever. Nice call Mikey.

May 19, 2010 at 11:30 PM
Teach said...

Ice: Exactly...and Charles Barkley's been saying it for years.

May 20, 2010 at 10:55 PM

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