Sunday, September 13, 2009

Quit the coyness, LeBron: Stay or go to ...

LeBron James will release his much-hyped autobiography in New York City tomorrow, which might not be a surprise since, well, New York City is New York City.

C'mon, did anybody expect him to release it in Peoria?

Yet his decision to pick New York for the book release over, say, Cleveland or his hometown of Akron might signal something that King James has avoided doing: revealing his intentions.

Is he a Cavalier for the long haul?

Staying or going, I wish LeBron James, a free agent after this season, would say. Those two words will be pulling him deep into next season like a tugboat. He has evaded answering questions about his intentions as if he were Osama bin Laden.

Rumors sayJames is going to the Knicks or to the Nets, and he had a chance to kill those rumors last month when he premiered his film at a journalism convention in Tampa. He didn’t.

He left Tampa with his future as a Cavalier just as uncertain as ever. Yeah, yeah, Northeast Ohio has been good to him, he says. He loves it here; these are his people; this is his town; this is his team. He says so all the time.

But if what he says is true, he should end the guessing game. No NBA team, by rule, can pay James as much as the Cavaliers can. Even if a team could, no community could lavish as much love on him as Northeast Ohio does. He’s its prodigal son, and the community would like nothing better, aside from the Browns winning the Super Bowl, than to see James stay beyond the 2009-10 season.

All the reasons for him staying here make sense. He’s all he can be here: rich, famous and an untouchable brand, an icon of sort. He’s the face of a region that has needed some of his stature.

People tell me that James owes them an answer, because they fear the longer he holds off with an answer that he’ll do what Jim Thome, Albert Belle and Manny Ramirez did and leave for a bigger stage.

What stage can be bigger for a global personality like James?

He would be ungodly famous even if he played in Butte, Montana. He doesn’t need Chicago, New York City, Los Angeles or Miami to remain the league’s pinup boy. Yet maybe all the good things King James says about his hometown aren’t really as important as standing in Madison Square Garden and hearing New Yorkers cheer his play.

He'll hear what those cheers sound like at his book release.