Mike Brown is gone. So, what does LeBron James really want in his heart-of-hearts, that unknowable place the media have never seen? It couldn't be John Calipari, could it?
The idea that LeBron and Kentucky coach John Calipari would shack up in Chicago, which began floating as the Cavs tanked, seems like bullshit. But I truly have no idea — no insight, no pipeline to available wisdom — about what's really going on with the LeBron/Calipari/WorldWideWes stuff. (For those who don't know, WorldWideWes is William Wesley, the former shoe salesman from Cherry Hill, New Jersey, who is now considered by insiders to be the Mr. Wolf — The Fixer, The Shadow, The Man Behind the Curtain — of the NBA.) I don't see what advantage accrues to James in terms of an angle to play against Chicago or any other team. If he really wants to play for that wop scumbag, he still doesn't want to be seen as the diva who wanted Mike Brown fired or needed to handpick his coach — the guy who would do that isn't congruent with LeBron's idea of who he is, or who he says he is. I think he'd hide it more if it were the case.
Everything that goes on around this story in terms of media coverage has to be discounted heavily. Everyone with a microphone or a keyboard knows that LeBron is "close friends" with fill-in-the-blank. But the truth is elsewhere. James is every bit as protected from anything resembling close coverage as Tiger Woods was, for many of the same reasons, and he's also as unknown and unknowable on a day-to-day basis. I know Cavs beat writers in Cleveland who've waited six years for a genuine one-on-one with The King. Most days, James didn't even deign to speak with the locals en masse after practice.
I don't know if he's going to sign elsewhere, but it was always clear — Bron always made it clear — that whatever this season's outcome, he was going to test free agency. He said it plainly and often and never hemmed or hawed about it. I believe(d) him; I never figured he'd take the stage at a championship parade in Cleveland in June to announce that he was going to stay a Cav.
Another point to consider is that, whatever James wants, the opportunity to pick a coach (or in the Clippers' and maybe the Nets' cases, a coach and GM) is one of the perks a team like the Bulls or Nets can offer. Whether James wants to do so or not, it's a way for those teams to express their deep desire for him, and their willingness to do things his way.
Scott Raab is a graduate of Cleveland State University and the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop. He has been a Writer at Large for Esquire magazine since 1997. He lives in New Jersey with his wife and son.
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