The Decision has given way to The Debacle for Cavs

BY foxsports • January 31, 2011

MIAMI - Let us say two things about what passed for an NBA game Monday night.

One, it's clear that LeBron James made the right call getting out of Cleveland.

And two, the meaning behind Monday's game might be that LeBron -- and the rest of us -- have finally moved beyond a post-Decision world.

Miami rolled to a 117-90 thumping of LeBron's former team, the Cavaliers lost their 21st game in a row and, for the last time, the starkness of what The Decision meant for Cleveland was laid bare.

So was this: The win, the brutality of the final score and the clear gulf between the two teams -- they had none of the emotion that should accompany a deep rift.

These weren't two former lovers having it out for all to see. These were two emotionless people going about their business.

The thrill is gone.

Much of that is because of how clear it is that LeBron made the right decision. It's also because of how little choice Cleveland has in moving on. They need to get past his departure and try and get their house in order.

Let's start with LeBron.

For all the ill-mannered and ill-fated ways he went about it, LeBron was right to leave Cleveland.

And then some.

Without him, the Cavaliers will most likely become the first team in NBA history to go from having the league's best record one season to its worst the next.

Without him, the Cavaliers have become a punch line.

What LeBron had in Cleveland might have been less true love and more co-dependency.

"It didn't matter for me if the Cavs (were) going to have a successful season or not," LeBron said before going out and scoring 24 points and dishing eight assists. "I felt like I was making the right choice for me as an individual and my career...their losing streak, how we're playing, hasn't given me any indication to furthermore know that I made the right decision."

Kindly put. Not true, but kindly put.

It does matter, and the ugliness of what the Cavs have become without him does speak to how right LeBron was to go.

Not how he did it -- not by a long shot -- but that he did it.

Not what it says about him, but what it says about where things now stand for him and his former team.

Yes, Cleveland is plagued by injuries to Mo Williams, Daniel Gibson and Anderson Varejo. And yes, the Cavaliers are rolling out players that probably aren't prepared for an NBA game, let alone one against the Miami Heat.

Would the fates have been any different had LeBron stayed? Karma aside, probably not.

"This is a starting lineup that projects to be (one where) I only played with two of them," LeBron said. "The rest of the guys I haven't even played with. It's strange first of all to see a team that's more banged up than we are."

Had LeBron stayed, Cleveland would have been a playoff team. Sure.

But time, and this season's Miami comparison, shows they would not have been what the Heat are now -- a championship-caliber team powered by more than one person.

The Heat have two of the game's finest players in tandem, and even 48 games into the season it is still something to see Dwyane Wade and LeBron do what they do as members of the same team.

They are incredible together.

For the Heat, the future is that reality and more. It is integrating Mike Miller (10 points and 11 rebounds) into the offense. It is staying focused in the face of so much success. It is having Chris Bosh as a third option if and when they need him. It is ultimately trying to get past Boston en route to the NBA Finals.

For Cleveland, the future is trying to avert history of another kind. The Cavs are two wins shy of the longest single-season losing streak in NBA history. They have been humiliated and beaten in arena after arena.

They are simply overmatched, and their only silver lining is to hope the high draft picks coming their way can kick-start a LeBron-less renaissance.

It is a thin silver lining indeed.

The common denominator here is LeBron James.

Cleveland is simply incapable of competing without him. That was clear Monday.

So was how lucky Miami, and LeBron, have it.

But the most telling aspect of the game was how little emotion there was in beating a team the Chosen One absolutely seemed to loathe -- with every fiber of his being -- just a few months ago.

This time, when LeBron said he wished Cleveland well and this was just another game, he sounded like he meant it. He sounded like someone utterly not invested, emotionally or otherwise, in Cleveland's future.

Because he's not.

Because he's let go.

LeBron sounded like the guy who has finally gotten over the girl he lived with for seven years. The one whose breakup shook him to the core. Who, now past her, can wish her well without any feeling, bitterness, hope or care.

Because she's just another person. Because he's moved on.

So let's leave the LeBron-Cleveland mess where LeBron has. In the past.

Cleveland knows it. LeBron knows it. The Heat know it. We know it.

It's time to get past The Decision. That chapter is over.

You can follow Bill Reiter on Twitter.


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