I want to make one thing very clear: In basketball, I am wrong more than I am right.

(Pausing for dramatic effect.)

Last season, before the Miami Heat started building emergency bandwagons to hold their bandwagons, I had Wade + eleven stuffed coffins slipping by the Celtics in Round 1 (0 for 1). I followed that blooper with a comment on Fox Sports Radio decisively picking the Cavaliers to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals (0 for 2).

Shortly after, I got this email from a reader:

Jason,

I’m from Florida, but I live in L.A. and I like reading your stuff. Can you do me a favor and pick the Celtics to win? It would really help me feel a lot better about Orlando’s chances in this series.

Thanks,

Marcus

(How is Vince Carter working out for you in Orlando, Marcus?)

Speaking of Orlando, just before the Eastern Conference Finals began, I joined Rey Moralde on his podcast and declared the Magic to be the outright favorites to advance to the NBA Finals (0 for 3).

Looking back, I was well on my way to Ray Allen in Game 3 territory… I just had to go one for my next nine predictions to avoid it. Unlike Ray, I stood up to the challenge and nailed my next pick, taking the Lakers over the Celtics in the NBA Finals (1 for 4). (In my defense, I did pick every series in the Western Conference correctly.)

After so many erroneous predictions, it’s shocking that ESPN didn’t come knocking with a huge contract and my own time-slot. Even more shocking?

You’re still reading my column…

And while I have your attention, here is one thing that I was absolutely not wrong about (and wrote a column predicting way back in November):

LeBron + Wade + Bosh = Miami.

I may have been the least surprised sports writer in the world when James’ awkwardly announced that he would be taking his talents to South Beach and joining the Miami Heat. (Do the Heat even play in South Beach?)

Since The Decision aired on L-ESPN, sports media outlets, bloggers and NBA fans have spent the last ten days crucifying James and commiserating with devastated Clevelanders… as if those exact parties aren’t the ones responsible for creating this whole circus to begin with.

The overall outrage surrounding LeBron’s move to Miami has been completely ludicrous. How could you have not seen this coming? Why is anyone even remotely surprised by this? Was it really all that difficult of a choice?

I say no, and here’s why. I am LeBron James and here are the questions I am asking each team…

Los Angeles Clippers.
What kind of health insurance do you guys have to offer? Do you happen to share a facility with another vastly more successful, larger and popular NBA franchise? Does the best player in the world already own the rights to the fans in this city?

New Jersey Nets.
How many games did you guys win last season? Am I required to live in your city if I play here? Didn’t I see the Izod Center on an episode of Jersey Shore last week?

New York Knicks.
I can make how much money? Wow. How many surgeries has Amare had on that knee? How are your winters? How about your summers? But your beaches are really nice though, right? On a typical week day, how long does rush hour traffic last?

Chicago Bulls.
How does your up and coming big man (Noah) feel about me coming here? I heard about some guy named Michael Jordan who used to play here in the 90’s? If I win three NBA titles and two more MVP’s in the next seven years, I’m the second best player in franchise history?

Cleveland Cavaliers.
Mo Williams is my wing man for the next five years? How’s the salary cap space looking these days? Are they planning any new construction renovations to… the entire city? Did I just google last time Cleveland won a championship and the Wikipedia entries for drought and sports-related curse topped the list? (That really happened.)

And that brings us to the very obvious and completely unsurprising choice…

Miami Heat.
How’s my supporting cast look? How are the winters down there in Miami? Summers? What kind of beaches do you have? What about the women? State taxes? Are the two best players on your team my two best friends in the league? Can I realistically win as many NBA championships as Kobe Bryant? Who is your GM? Does he make good personnel decisions? Will your owner spend money to put the best product on the court? Will I have the most fun I have ever had in my entire life?

I could go on, but I think you get the idea…

I have never been a personal fan of LeBron James – I think he is the most celebrated and unreasonably self-absorbed non-winner in the history of organized sports. Even so, he unquestionably made the right decision, even if he went about it in the wrong way (The Decision on ESPN was a complete travesty). Joining forces with D-Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami was a no-brainer.

There are really only two puzzling questions left to answer in all of this:

  • Why didn’t anybody (myself not included) see such an obvious decision coming?

PR-LeBron and Human-LeBron are two very different individuals.

PR-LeBron is about winning championships, following in the footsteps of Jordan, Magic and even Kobe. He is driven by his killer instinct and the unquenchable desire to be listed with the greatest players of all-time. He hates to lose more than he loves to win – something that haunts him every night before he goes to sleep. He lives, breathes and eats basketball – it is his whole life and there is nothing on earth that matters more to him.

Unfortunately, PR-Lebron is a fabricated creation of the anti-Kobe Bryant media. How do you handle the best player in the NBA being a somewhat polarizing and fairly disliked public figure?

You replace him.

The best candidate for that replacement seemed to be LeBron James. He is an unbelievably gifted athlete. He has all the physical tools to be one of the greats. He can excite the crowd like nobody else in the League. He seemed to be a rather likeable and charismatic superstar athlete. He was supposed to beat Kobe in ’09… He was supposed to get another shot at him in ’10… He was supposed to choose a team where he could be PR-LeBron, the individual everyone thought he was.

It turns out that PR-LeBron was a fraud all along. Instead, we are left with Human-LeBron.

Human-LeBron is most interested in having fun. Look at his teams in Cleveland – they had more fun than anyone in the league (by far). They performed synchronized dances during timeouts or before free-throws. They posed for team pictures after pre-game introductions. They had dozens of handshakes and hi-five routines.  They relished the spotlight more than any NBA team in recent history – all led by their resident class-clown and superstar leader, Prince James.

At the end of the day, LeBron likes to win. He likes to play basketball for a living. He likes the idea of being remembered as an all-time great.

He loves to have fun.

Why didn’t he choose Chicago, where he can be the leader of a team that has a chance to win a championship? Why didn’t he choose New York, where he can make tons of money and have a small window of opportunity to win a title as the best player? Why didn’t he choose Cleveland, where he could return to a 60+ win team, make a maximum salary, and take a shot at finishing what he started seven years ago?

Friends +Fun = Miami.

When it comes right down to it, Human-LeBron, not PR-LeBron, is who LeBron James really is. In just ten seconds on ESPN, he destroyed PR-LeBron forever – and by doing so, set fire to the media’s decade-long project to force LeBron to become something he never wanted to be all along. It’s really no surprise that just about every newspaper, blog, talk show and magazine from here to New York is criticizing his every move.

LeBron 1,
Media 0.
FINAL.

Who’s really the sore loser here?

  • 3-Kings or the 3-Peat?

That’s another mega column all by itself. Stay tuned…

:)

—–

Be sure to follow Jason Riley on Twitter!

  • LifeLongLakerFan

    Man you nailed Lebron. My brother and I also call him many things but King is not one of them. We both have used “Prince” before. I also call him King Nothing because he’s won nothing. The media hate Kobe so they created him.

    They also all pick Miami next year and are expecting us to cower in fear but that AIN’T happening.

    I’m also not as sure as others are that this is gonna work great if it works at all, chemistry can be a bitch!

    I guess very soon we shall see.

  • gio

    niceeeee

  • RoyalLakers

    He is no longer King James. What kind of King left his kindom behind and decided to join his competitors in the east. The person who wants to be King starts with loyalty.

    • http://www.myspace.com/escapingthedarkness Paul

      I am getting tired of “King James this, King James that” crap. He has no NBA Championship rings, has only made the Finals one time in his 7 year career, and has been passed over as NBA Season MVP at least twice by Kobe Bryant. There is no king in Lebron James if he doesn’t have the accomplishments of a king.

  • Molon Labe

    What kind of qualifying statements are…”How are you winters?” and “How are you Summers?”

    If the NBA put team with in Turks and Caicos with a supporting cast that consisted of a mid 90’s Jordan and Shaq does that mean Lebron would go play there?

    What it boils down to is the Lebron is a heartless, backstabbing, unloyal jerkoff. But hey he got an 1 hour TV special.

  • lakersno834

    TO add to your theory of LeBron Loving to Have FUN, he loves being the center of everything. He likes having all the attention possible. To compare and contrast Kobe and Him during starting line up introduction and during the game and during time outs. It’s almost like He’s at a party. He would be dancing, moving, rapping, posing, you name it. While Kobe would have this Serious look on his face regardless of any situation. He would even yell at his teammates. While LeBron would site quietly biting his mouth-piece or his nails when his team is loosing. Media loves to compare Kobe vs. LeBron Mostly when they want to make LeBron look good. But they are paying for it big time right now. Kobe looks really good saying nothing right now cuz he’s got Five reasons not to say anything about the Big 3. Even if it is Wade’s team, he will be the center of attention in Miami. Just like Kevin Garnett, just like Alex Rodriguez. And That’s the Biggest reason why I think he signed with the Heat.

  • RoWyN

    jerk!

    :)

  • mr.laker

    I agree, he doesnt care about winning as much as having fun. Thats the perfect way of putting it. And now he can win 30 championships and will never be on the Jordan/Kobe level, or the Magic/Bird level, or even the Kareem/Duncan level.

    What he did would be like when Jordan lost in 1990 against the Pistons, asking Barkley to join him and go to Houston with Hakeem so they can all win ships. But we know jordan would never do that. Kobe would never do that. Kobe even when he was with Shaq, always wanted to be the man. Lebron doesnt care about that

    Bottom line, DONT COMPARE HIM TO KOBE ANYMORE!! ANYONE!

  • razz

    what is really interesting to me was during the “Sunday Conversation” with whatever her name is, Lebron was asked what he did during the final day in order to make the correct “decision”. Lebron said something like- he just wanted it to be about HIM for once… HUH? Hello!! The whole dang summer was about you bron!!! I dont even think he knows how much he loves himself…. He will though soon.. Took KB some time to figure it out

  • Keith

    I am intrigued by the ideas while being fully aware this is a Laker’s blog. I am a fan of neither Kobe or LeBron. I think Lebron, in some ways, is a younger Kobe. Though Kobe erred on the side of being too intense, his ego WAS larger than his game. I think that is what you see with LeBron now.

    However poorly LeBron’s transition was handled, you have to admit that he was willing to do what most rich NBA superstar ego-maniacs are not willing to do…accept less money, shared spotlight and smaller stats to win.

    It seems apparent that few people like the move. Perhaps this is a reflection of American’s preference to root for underdogs and hate teams like the Yankees. As for me, I don’t have any chips in the game-I’m just going to sit back and enjoy the matchups.

    • ilikebasketball

      naw..it’s about rooting for those that overcome the odds, are loyal and, with perseverance, win(jordan, 7 years to get a ring)…or, with dignity lose(barkley, no ring, but hailed as a legend).

      lebron is neither of those things.

      taking less money means nothing if the money is sacrificed as an attempt to short-cut your way to legendary status.

      people may say kobe wanted out and that he did the same.
      but what kobe did was say i am leaving if you don’t put guys around me that can help me win. he WANTED to stay a laker.

      Lebron bitched and moaned that mo williams didn’t make the all start team. he never alluded like other greats, that he doesn’t have the team around him to do it, or management or anything.

      everyone knows you need good role players to win.
      but there’s a difference between gettting a good team of role players and guys who work hard and step up…and going to a team with other hall of famers.
      like jordan and barkley, said, there is no way someone with a real competitive spirit would join the guys you are competiting against to win a ring.
      unless……lebron has bought nike’s hype and actually believes that the only one he is competing against is Kobe. and if he thinks that, then that has to be the worst blunder in all of sports legacies.

  • Robert.

    Yes, this makes sense (the fact that LeJ wanted to go to Miami to have fun). And I also agree with the fact (and I’ve blogged about this before), that he is ‘mostly’ interested in getting attention.
    .
    I also claim that he is trying to re-create his ‘high-school basketball’ situation. He wants to have fun with his friends, and be a part of a group like that, and be a ring leader (of sorts). He would do this if he were playing basketball, baseball, or just hanging around at the local 7-11.
    .
    There’s nothing wrong with that, in that sense. He’s just doing what he wants to do – not what the media thinks he should do.
    .
    Personally, I actually did want him to play for the Knicks. I thought that that particular franchise would be revitalized, and become a super power like it has before. Then we would have the Lakers-Celtics-Knicks triumvirate again. But to be honest, the Lakers have pulled away from those other 2 franchises. The Lakers have been relevant almost every decade since the NBA began. The Celtics have had some moments of greatness, and so have the Knicks. It’s over for them.
    .
    I also agree that the ‘anti-Kobe’ media machine (headed up by ESPN) has taken a BIG HIT. And that, to me, is the biggest aspect of this whole thing. The media is devastated by LeBron’s choice. Skip NoNBAExperience Bayless is a barometer for this. He seemed personally hurt that he can no longer refer to LeBron as the King. And other similar media types are scrambling to cover their a$$es by ‘defending’ LeBron’s choice, as if it needed defending for everyone else. It only needs defending FROM THEM, the media, who built up their own facade in the first place.
    .
    In fact, they have to defend LeBron by saying (too late, now, btw) that Kobe also had great players on his teams, and so did Magic, and MJ. They are STILL trying to compare Kobe with LBJ. This move by LeBron was the BEST thing that happened to Kobe’s rep – but the media will still try to do whatever they can to belittle it.
    .
    The solution? Kobe has to win the Finals next year. But you know what? It’s too late for LBJ anyway. If he wins even 1 championship, the entire earth will never know what he could have done without those great players. Or, do they already know that he CAN’T do what Kobe did. He had 7 years to do things his way.

  • SHOWTIME4EVA

    KOBE,NASH AND RONDO! PLAYING POOL!! LOL!! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MJtn9pCCp34

    • 09-10-11champs!

      omg that was funny as hell LOL sh*t couldnt stop laughing all video NICE ONE hahahahaha

    • 242LakerFan

      ROTFLMAO!!!! That was great! I didn’t really know where it was going till the end. That was classic!!!

  • cjm

    what’s really interesting are the people who can’t see the moral dimension to Mrs Wade’s brahvior. says a lot about them (none of it good).

  • http://www.mixmakers.net/forums/ Imadogg

    Good stuff

  • kslakers

    Many people saw the Miami decision coming. Stephen A Smith reported this as a done deal 2 weeks before The Decision. Dan Le Batard expected him to choose Miami too. And so did John Ireland.

    • avcpl

      Jason called it back in November. None of these others saw it back that far or clearly.

      Props to JR.

  • Monkija87

    The statement about Lebron didn’t want to play in Chicago because of Jordan is ridiculous. The fact that Jordan played for the Bulls was incentive for Lebron to consider Chicago, not the other way around.

    Chris Broussard, Stephen A Smith, Bill Simmons = A list of journalists who knew he was going to Miami before he announced it

    • Kamakazi

      NO you are wrong monk- one of the reasons his camp didnt like the chicago deal was that their presentation when they went to Cleveland was “Jordan this Jordan that”. It wasn’t an “incentive” it was a deterrent. LBJ is already a world wide talent. He wants to build his own brand and win rings, and he felt that his chance was winning in miami, less pressure of living up to Jordan too.. so no that notion is not “ridiculous”. + Wade had the same issue.

      • 242LakerFan

        You’re right, K, but you’re wrong too. He is afraid of going to Chicago because the pressure would be too great and the comparison to Jordan would be direct and constantly in his face.
        But going to Miami is not about building his own brand. He’ll never be the one responsible for winning in Miami. Even if he wins six…seven…eight…whatever the fantasy number of the day is, it’ll be because he came and joined Wade’s team. Not the other way around. From now on, he’s Pippen, he’s Worthy, he’s McHale, he’s Chamberlain in L.A. All great in their own right, but even winning MVP’s didn’t make them The Guy on their teams.

        • ilikebasketball

          exactly

          • KMizzle

            Everybody is gunning for them now, and since Laker fans are rooting for the Celtics and vice versa against the Heat.. Well I guess the cat’s out of the bag officially we have entered into the…..”Twighlight Zone” cue intro..

  • KMizzle

    three words LBJ, Sunday morning quarterback

  • 4Lyfe

    This is right on target. The media is hurting because in order to de-throne Kobe they created a king that was not ready to rule.

  • 242LakerFan

    Riles, this may be your masterwork.

  • http://57.amklac laffs atu

    hey, NOBOBYS TALKING ABOUT BRYANT,le bronze gets more print time here at LAKERGIRL NATION….THAN YOUR Paper hero

    • 242LakerFan

      Nobody’s talking about Bryant because he didn’t just make a jackass out of himself on international television. He’s relaxing at home with his beautiful wife and adorable kids, designing his 5th Championship ring!
      And if you were looking for Laker Girl Nation you typed the wrong URL, you dyslexic interloper. Nobody’s laffing atu.

  • Nicholas

    Great column. You had my attention the entire time.

  • kobebyrantfinalmvp

    lebrick is whack and to all the hater of kobe and lakers they could suck espn crown a fake king to replace kobe and micheal stupid now they back tracking funny

  • http://57.amklac laffs atu

    home with his beatiful wife, how about lickin his lips on the podium telling the world he cheated on her…..no body has forgotten that assface.once a snitch and liar always a cheat and liar…..he` did a great job with raja bell.UTAH over L.A think about that douchenozzle

    • bLuE

      Um Bell wanted $$$$ so stfu clown

      • kobebyrantfinalmvp

        utah got shit there small team is not goin to beat the lakers and like i said early f**k the hater

      • KM

        Bell and Kobe already spoke about it, and he told him pt blank “I wanted my $”. SO everybody trolling around the lakersnation site needs 2 stfu. Ty

    • letsGOlakers!

      wow ur a straight up hater, get off this site becuz ur not satisfying anyone but urself and lakers just won the championship so ur whining is not gonna do anything K:)

  • http://57.amklac laffs atu

    if raja would of signed with the fakers, kobe would be the hero.since he hates bryant and wanted nothing to do with the lakers……..no mention ,funny.

    • Showtime4eva

      Funny how lebra has a melt down every year in the playoffs. That’s funny!! And now he’s d- wades bitch that’s funnier. And he still won’t have a ring being a role playing pussy now that’s hilarious! It just keeps getting better! Go lakers!!!!!!

  • Rio Rondo

    is kobe selfish?

    • letsGOlakers!

      wth?

      • Rio Rondo

        i believe Kobe is, its a good thing to be selfish with certain things.

        i just read this and sat thinking wow being selfish is not a bad thing.

        Selfishness is not using others, or making them serve you, or removing yourself from people. Selfishness is being primarily interested in your own goals. Selfishness has nothing to do with other people – a selfish person who hurts others is a contradiction in terms. A selfish person is concerned with their self, and has no need to hurt others

        • letsGOlakers!

          okay so r u a lakers or celtics fan?

          • Rio Rondo

            celtic till i die , just giving some props to the greatest player in the game

  • letsGOlakers!

    GO LAKERS!

  • letsGOlakers!

    LAKERS ALL THE WAY!

  • http://57.amklac laffs atu

    seems like as salaries have gone up-the watered down talent in the nba has reached new lows….if bryant is the best out there,thats not saying much…pretty sad.

    • kobebyrantfinalmvp

      yeah pretty sad u suck too what a joke lAFF ATU u got alot of time on your fucken hand to comment in a lakersnation when u not even a fan but a bitch hating the GOAT KOBE

      • http://www.facebook.com/thepandasayshello Josh Herrington

        it seems like it is safe for idiotic haters to jump back on the “lakers suck” train. seems like we’re back to square-one about kobe. if you are an average person, thats not saying much for the global education systems…pretty sad.

  • http://www.facebook.com/thepandasayshello Josh Herrington

    I respected (well, didn’t pity as much) the Laker-haters because they were strictly fans of one team. Now, it seems as though, since the Heat have stacked up, The Laker Nation is supposed to cower in fear. And to say that Kobe being the league’s best is saying much? I only hear those kind of comments from people who know nothing of basketball. I thought the hater were a little smarter than the average idiot. I guy can dream, I guess.

  • http://www.facebook.com/thepandasayshello Josh Herrington

    Isn’t*

  • SteakandEggs

    Can you guys please not sticky your self-written articles and podcasts above actual Laker news.

    Thank you.

  • roscoe

    Very nice article.

  • Ronald Duarte

    This article is over hyped and wordy, just like every piece done on Lebron in the last week or so. It admits to its fumbling picks and reveals a lack of understanding to what the eastern conference looked like in the playoffs, yet the entire article is about a personal players personality issues within the eastern conference that so confounded the speaker and his predictions.

  • 24allup inya

    There’s no way, with hindsight, I would’ve ever called up Larry, called up Magic and said, ‘Hey, look, let’s get together and play on one team.’

  • ilikebasketball

    seems you have all the facts.
    but umm….PR-Lebron dead?
    i dont think so by a long shot.

    Pr-Lebron was just very wrong in his outlook of what people and the media would allow of him.
    I have no doubt that Lebron thought it would be him on the cover of Sports Illustrated after the announcment was made.

    He has never been doubted by the media. From stuart Scott to Freedarko.com. After each loss the excuses were spoken for him, at every turn.

    and now people may be shocked to find that Lebron isn’t a Jordan or a Barkley who wants to carry the team.
    Lebron, both the human and PR side of him are the product of a life of being told that everything he does is right and great. Why would he think going to a team with two of his friends who happen to be great players, would effect him negatively?

    it was media: 1
    lebron: 0

    the media finally called the bluff on their own creation.
    (except for B. Shoals, who continues to write like an outsider but make excuses for all the hype created by nike and espn…like a planted mole) and the only thing that will save Lebron and the sports media crowning a king without a ring is if lebron win THIS year. And even then, as SI flatly stated, it’s D Wade’s team. Lebron signed his own death warrant. and only the endorsement deals backing him and the media apoligizing for him can save him.