Was this LeBron's Cleveland swan song?
Share This Story
Has LeBron James played his final game in Cleveland for the Cavaliers?
Visual evidenceStill can't believe the Celtics blew out the Cavs? Check out the best shots from Game 5.
James might have taken a step closer to leaving Cleveland in the matter of only a few more weeks after he and the Cavs took a shellacking from the Celtics on Tuesday night. Now James is only one more loss from seeing his season end, and the end could come as soon as Thursday in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference semifinals in Boston.
But it might not be just the end of the season, of course. It could very well be the end of the James Era in Cleveland. And that would be the end of the Cavaliers.
If they can’t re-sign an Akron guy who put them on the map, they might as well close up shop.
Losing LeBron would leave the Cleveland franchise in shambles. Remember the Cavs before LeBron arrived? They were irrelevant for the better part of 35 years. That’s how they’ll be if he packs up for New York.
When the Cavs split the two games in Boston last weekend, to return home 2-2, GM Danny Ferry was asked if he was confident about re-signing the most important player in team history.
“You guys are the ones that want to talk about it,” Ferry said. “I understand that. It gets people wanting to read about it. And it’s going to be an important time for us. But our important time for this team is right now.”
Right now the season looks shot. We all wanted to see the first Kobe-LeBron Finals in June, but James isn’t going to come close to holding up his end of the bargain.
And it’s going to be his own fault if he can’t get the Cavs to at least the East finals. He’s been way too blasé in the Cavs’ last two losses. He never attacked in Game 5. He hardly attacked in Game 4, when he was thoroughly outplayed by Rajon Rondo. Where’s the MVP who imposed his will on Game 3, who never stopped going to the basket, when the Cavs went up 2-1?
Considering what was at stake in Game 5, his performance was shocking, if not disgraceful. He didn’t make his first basket until the Celtics were in control in the third quarter.
“He had an off night,” Cavs coach Mike Brown said. “It’s abnormal for him.”
Abnormal? For a two-time MVP, it’s almost unheard of to have the kind of game that James played.
“When it happens,” James said, “it’s a big surprise.”
In his second-worst playoff game, in terms of shooting, he ended up with 15 measly points, missing 11 of 14 attempts, as the Cavs suffered their largest home playoff defeat, 120-88.
The way the Cavs played in Games 4 and 5 — and the way Boston has come to life — it would be a surprise now if Cleveland even forces a Game 7 on Sunday in Quicken Loans Arena.
As for his future, James hasn’t said a word about his plans for a couple of months. It’s off limits. When you ask him, he politely declines to say what he’s thinking.
When he received his second straight MVP award a few weeks ago, he talked about Akron. A lot. Sounded like a guy who worked for the Chamber of Commerce.
But he never once said the word “Cleveland.”
If James wants to be the King of New York, the Knicks have what it takes. They can offer him bright lights, big city and the chance to turn around one of the league’s flagship franchises.
Because of the collective bargaining agreement rules favoring the “home team,” the Knicks can’t offer James as much money as the Cavs can. But there is something the Knicks can offer that the Cavs can’t:
A chance to play with another marquee talent.
Cleveland’s supporting cast has always lacked a bona-fide second star. As many moves as Ferry has made over the years, he’s never been able to import a real, live wingman who can help James get a ring. It sure hasn’t been Mo Williams, Shaquille O’Neal or Antawn Jamison, the latest import.
But the Knicks have enough cap space to accommodate LeBron and Chris Bosh. If James is given the chance to play with Bosh, why wouldn’t he make the move?
At the All-Star Game two years ago, James talked at length about how he’d like to one day play with Bosh, a big man who would be content as the No. 2 star. The Knicks can give James that chance, if he wants to try his hand at winning on Broadway.
Meanwhile, out in Cleveland, by the time Game 5 was over, there were sections of empty seats in Quicken Loans Arena.
And that’s just how it will look from now on, if LeBron is LeGone.
Read more of Mitch Lawrence's columns at the New York Daily News.