It is the delicious news of Rajon Rondo signing with the trainwreck Chicago Bulls which turns my attention to the year long victory lap Lebron James will march across the face of the NBA. The Bulls now spin like roadkill in Lebron’s rear view mirror, just as the Detroit Pistons have since 2007, when Lebron James himself singlehandedly blew them to smithereens.
Since Lebron entered the league in 2003, there have been many, many villians in the Shakespearean tale of CLE & LBJ, including as the Bard would insist, himself. They all, except Lebron (redeemed!), now scurry to come up with some Big Three or Dream Teem of their own, aping Lebron James at his well known worst, as if in prayer they can somehow win a ring while Lebron is still playing. These Cavs aren’t that good yet, but the 2016 NBA Finals comeback is proof they’re about to be. That sound you hear from the NBA hot stove is sheer panic.
All of which brings to mind the first such pretender to this throne Carlos Boozer, whose treachery may be the biggest reason why Lebron doesn’t already have 11 rings in a row. I vividly remember hearing the news on the radio, as I drove off the Shoreway and onto the access road to Whiskey Island for some beach volleyball on a glorious summer night in 2004. The Cavs failed to pick up Carlos Boozer’s extension, trusting Boozer would sign a longer new contract.
The haze began. I remember making the turn from the off ramp to Whiskey Island Drive in silence, turning the volume up on the radio. Nothing. The pause in the newscaster’s voice was so audible, I could hear my own mind race through the litany of Cleveland sports woe in a nanosecond and conclude, before I even got past the marina, Boozer would be gone the next day, which he was. That is how important Carlos Boozer thought he was, how much better he could do without Lebron James.
At the time, the search was for the ever elusive shooting guard, and the 2004 off season was supposed to be when the Cavs took “the next step”. James and Boozer together, as now with James and Kevin Love, were the first signs the Cavs might become a dynasty. Alas, Shakespeare had already cast Carlos Boozer as a mere bit player added onto the pile of Believeland documentary film fodder. Boozer is now out of the NBA, laughably floating a comeback last week, after precisely the mediocre career everyone knew he would have without Lebron James.
It is in this spirit I greeted the Atlanta Hawks signing Dwight Howard, the Knicks signing BOTH Derrick Rose AND Joakim Noah (be still my heart), and whatever Dwayne Wade “sweepstakes” are afoot this off season. Cleveland’s got the NBA hot stove boiling over in what will prove futility.