Ken Berger, CBSSports.com: If James had gone to New York, it would’ve been understandable. (Still no excuse for the pompous way this was done, but understandable.) He would’ve been embracing the challenge of winning in a hard place to win, of doing it bigger than almost any star of the league had ever done. But James didn’t choose that. He did what he’s always done, only on a grander scale this time: He insulated himself, crawled without a whimper into a protective cocoon spun by Dwyane Wade and Pat Riley in Miami. If James had chosen the Bulls, it would’ve been understandable, too. The chance to play in the city that Jordan owned? Too much for James to contemplate. He looked forward to this free-agent charade as a crowning achievement, forgetting about what has always made champions in this sport: Beating the best. James, if nothing else on this pathetic night for the NBA, proved that he isn’t up to that task and doesn’t even want to try. He doesn’t want to beat the best; he wants the best to get him his rings already so his accomplishments can catch up to his hubris — so he can cash in on this make-believe legend in what has been a make-believe career. James’ reputation went from questionable to counterfeit Thursday night, with an assist from the adoring network that pays billions to broadcast a sport that James, ironically, has now done far more damage than good.
Neil Payne, Basketball-Reference: Like a commenter said yesterday, the Michael Jordan era was so transformative that we may very well have have convinced ourselves that the MJ-Pippen formula (and the Alpha-Beta designations contained therein) is the only way to view the game. Heck, Bill Simmons even wrote a 700-page book that revises the entirety of NBA history to match that ultramasculine theory of basketball. Yet in those same pages Simmons also extolled the virtues of “The Secret”, which is allegedly about sacrificing numbers, money, and individual glory for team success… Well, isn’t what LeBron did last night the living embodiment of The Secret, leaving millions on the table and turning himself into a hometown villain, all for the sake of winning?
Bill Livingston, Cleveland Plain-Dealer: Defecting players usually say sports are a business. But while James’ decision certainly crushes businesses around The Q, for Cleveland, this was personal. How could it possibly be business when the Cavaliers could pay $30 million more over a long-term contract than any of his suitors? James is the local legend who severed his ties with the area and now becomes as reviled as any sports figure other than Art Modell. He is the great player who left unfinished business after quitting on his team on the court and left unanswered questions by quitting on his city off it.
John Krolik, CavsTheBlog: Cleveland owned the Browns long before Art Modell bought them, took them, and moved them. Likewise, Cleveland owned the Cavaliers long before LeBron James joined the team. Cleveland will own the Cavaliers long after LeBron James leaves. Cleveland does not own LeBron James. LeBron James was born in Akron. He was drafted by his hometown Cavaliers, who signed him to a contract. He played at a high enough level to make his contract a relative bargain. He then signed an extension with the Cavaliers. Again, he played at a high enough level to more than justify the money he was given by the Cavaliers. LeBron does not owe the Cavaliers any more than he has given them. LeBron has never needed to pay off some cosmic debt to Cleveland. He’s done all he can to bring a title to the city, but it was never about anybody forcing LeBron to win a title for the Cavaliers. He tried to win Cleveland a title because he wanted to. Cavs fans just got to watch.