First off, let’s be clear about one thing: LeBron James will never join the Warriors. Doing so, even in anticipation of multiple championships that may yet move his tally past Michael Jordan’s, would be tantamount to betraying his convictions. It’s not what he has been about, not what competition is in his mind, and not what he wants his legacy to look like. He’s no fool; he understands the difference between building a super team with him at the forefront and joining one with him as a spare tire.
Taken in this context, therefore, the ESPN.com story that sent social media abuzz late last week should not be viewed as anything but pure speculation. Culled from unnamed sources and peppered with such words as “if” and “could,” the article tries to cover its shaky ground by noting as early as in the second paragraph that the Warriors have given “no indication” of its intentions to pursue him in free agency later this year. Instead of providing clarity, however, all it did was paint him as an opportunist.
Little wonder, then, that James felt compelled to respond emphatically. Speaking to members of the media, he went on an uninterrupted three-minute spiel that underscored his commitment to this season’s cause. And he’s right; he already has too much on his mind given the Cavaliers’ seeming implosion to even think of what will happen in four months. There’s still work after the All-Star break and, hopefully, through the playoffs and into an eighth consecutive Finals appearance to worry about.
Not surprisingly, rhyme and reason have failed to stop critics from pillorying James in the aftermath of the story’s publication. Never mind that all and sundry go through the circus every year since “The Decision” in 2010, and especially after he returned to the Cavaliers in 2014. The flip side is that he’s used to the negative feedback. It no longer bothers him; in fact, it fuels him. Which is why the news — or, rather, the gossip that is being passed off for news — may yet work in his favor. All things considered, he certainly needs all the help he can get.
Anthony L. Cuaycong has been writing Courtside since BusinessWorld introduced a Sports section in 1994. He is the Senior Vice-President and General Manager of Basic Energy Corp.