The King’s Hand

LeBron James has a full no trade clause and is signed to the Cleveland Cavaliers for one more year. Thus, the King holds all the cards in his hand.

Never ever, yes, never ever, will you see a more calculated and backhanded free agent highjacking by an NBA player than that of LeBron James. Dan Gilbert, the owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers, is literally at LeBron’s every beckoning call to put it nicely. The rapper Too Short might be better at calling it what it really is. For what it’s worth, Dan Gilbert can’t sign LeBron, he can’t trade him, nor can he control him. LeBron James could literally walk into the Cavaliers practice facility an hour late and film a Blaze Pizza commercial (the chain in which he has a sizable stake) while his teammates run lines and work on free throws. Truth be told, his teammates might still be benched while LeBron starts in the real game.

Dan Gilbert can’t even trade Kyrie Irving without LeBron’s permission. On the one hand, if he does, LeBron can say he’s leaving Cleveland at the end of the season because of it. On the other, LeBron can use management’s lack of ability to trade Kyrie as an excuse to why they don’t get past the Warriors this upcoming season. LeBron isn’t just basketball-IQ smart, he’s Akron, Ohio smart. Just when a player thinks she has a high card, LeBron drops an ace.

Meanwhile, LeBron gets to spend his time sending cryptic messages to the world about what he’s thinking (or what we think he’s thinking) through his social media outlets and marketing team. Does a new baldy prior to the Warriors championship parade mean that LeBron’s motivated to comeback and go nuclear? Does his dancing in yoga tights mean that he’s feeling like a superhero? When he nods his head to diss tracks in his car while wearing a fisherman’s cap, does it mean that he hates Kyrie? About the only thing we do know is that LeBron’s high cards make us all look like Jacks.

Is LeBron planning an exit to the Los Angeles Lakers? Some proclaim it ironic that LeBron’s Los Angeles home was vandalized during the NBA finals, the first time many fans had ever heard of his residence in the region. Was it all the beginning of a bigger staging to get the L.A. discussion circulating? To survey the fans and soften them up before he bolts?

Isn’t it ironic that the GM of the Cavaliers was fired immediately after a winning season and third straight trip to the NBA Finals? Was it really Dan Gilbert’s doing or was it LeBron James creating a smokescreen for his exit? LeBron wouldn’t do that, would he?

Some pundits also find it ironic that Kyrie Irving is publicly frustrated and wants to be traded all of a sudden. Did LeBron provoke Kyrie to become frustrated in order to add yet another layer of smoke to his smokescreen? A super smokescreen! Or, is Kyrie simply smart enough to get ahead of LeBron and try to force a move before LeBron exits to L.A.? As good of a guess as it sounds, it’s also highly unlikely that Kyrie’s holding more aces than LeBron.

The questions and conspiracy theories span far and wide when it comes to LeBron James’ future in Cleveland. If anything, it shows us that LeBron’s matured just enough to not simply go on television and say where he’s taking his talents to next, but instead, create a year-long mini series for a soft landing to the team of his choice. No hard feelings Cleveland.

Since when did a friendly game become such a shark tank? It’s not far fetched to say that it started with team owners. However, the game has since been flipped. Unfortunately, owners were still sitting down at the card table and removing the Jokers from the deck according to the old boys honor system. The problem is that no one told LeBron the unwritten rule before they allowed him to sit and deal a new hand though. Guess it’s fair to say that both the owners and league found out the hard way that Jokers are, and will continue to be, in full play at the King’s table.

(This article was originally published on August 17, 2017)