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And Just Like That, LeBron Is Free

That headline right there, it’s inflammatory and insensitive and a little bit mean, especially considering how gracious and honorable Cavs fans have been this morning, in the wake of the Cavaliers’ sudden, shocking playoff elimination at the hands of the Boston Celtics last night. Cavs fans have been rather amazing about this, considering how much of their soul has been ripped out in the last three days.

We mean, look at Cavs the Blog ending his post about the collapse:

Well, that’s all for me tonight. There will be much more on all of this coming in the future. For now, I just want to say I’ve had a great time writing about this team this season. If I had the chance to do it all over again, I would in a heartbeat. Thank all of you so much for reading and commenting. If this was LeBron’s last game in Cleveland, it’s been a great run.

We don’t remember reading that on a lot of Mets blogs in 2006, or Yankees blogs in 2004.

But we put that headline, that mean, smug headline, up anyway because:

1. Obviously, the current cover story of this magazine makes the case that LeBron should come to the Knicks, and now he is free to do so. When the story hit stands Monday, we have to say, we never dreamed that the Cavaliers’ season would be over by Friday. Considering how long we worked on the story, we couldn’t have timed its publication more perfectly … which actually makes us a little sad in a way we can’t put a finger on.

2. LeBron looks like he’s happy to be free, doesn’t he? He didn’t play poorly last night — the Celtics reminded us just how fierce of a defensive team they are, and why the Magic-Celts conference final might actually be more fun than anything the Cavs could have given us — but he didn’t have the look of a man who quite understood what the loss meant to his city, did he? The jersey torn off immediately, the postgame quotes of “my team has a plan” for free agency, the blithe “hey, losses happen” vibe you can’t imagine from the rabid competitors of the past. The Cavs’ decision to pack it in with 90 seconds to go was indicative of the stunning developments of this week: These guys, truly, seemed ready to go home. And that included LeBron. It’s sad. It makes us sad for Cleveland, and those fans, and that team that looked so perfectly poised, for so long, before the implosion.

But that’s just for today. Tomorrow, LeBron will still be free. And then it’s time for an entirely different story. After this week, after those 90 seconds, after that press conference … does anybody think he’s staying in Cleveland anymore? The man looked like he had a foot out the door already. Boos in his last game. Boos in his last game. LeBron might not be going to New York … but man, it doesn’t look like he’s gonna stay there. He is free. And in a way, finally … so is Cleveland.

July 1, man. It got here quick.

And Just Like That, LeBron Is Free