Miami Scheme Machine? NBA Should Probe Heat
Not to interrupt the Dance Dance Revolution on South Beach, of course. Or further aggravate the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who has the laugh-out-loud gall to say LeBron James -- still on track to be sport's next billionaire athlete -- is being treated like "a runaway slave." But consider this: What if James and Chris Bosh already had decided to join Dwyane Wade in Miami when the superstars still were playing meaningful games elsewhere?
Wouldn't that be a scandal of epic proportions?
What if the domino effect of signings actually was a three-way conspiracy hatched over months, if not years? What if LeBron was planning all along to bolt the Cleveland Cavaliers, as accused by jilted owner Dan Gilbert, allowing him to deliver less-than-maximum effort at times because he was, um, a dog in Heat? Wouldn't that be an integrity breach similar to Pete Rose's gambling crimes and the disgrace of the 1919 Black Sox? It's one thing for three close friends to gather on July 1, when their free agency kicks in and they no longer belong to other franchises, and devise a plan to triple-up on an unsuspecting NBA. It's quite another for them to talk as far back as four years ago about joining hands, to the point of agreeing in 2007 to the exact terms with their respective teams -- three years, opt-out clauses in 2010 -- and creating the contractual uniformity to make their dream possible.
In a sports world complex enough to give us all headaches, the union of James, Wade and Bosh came together too easily to think it just magically happened last week. Ever hear of Creative Artists Agency, one of Hollywood's powerhouse talent shops? What if I said Henry Thomas, agent for Wade and Bosh, joined CAA in July 2009 -- where a waiting Leon Rose, James' agent, already was on the staff? Considering how close the three players have been, from the night they entered the league together in the 2003 draft to playing on a U.S. international team in 2006 and then on the gold-medal Olympic Redeem Team two years ago, it would be naive to believe this hasn't been in the works for some time.
I can't overstate what would be so hideously wrong about such a secret arrangement, particularly amid Gilbert's claims that James "quit" on the Cavs in Game 5 and three other games of the ill-fated Boston playoff series, as well as the concluding game of Cleveland's postseason failure against Orlando last year. When James is trying to break through to the NBA Finals, only to encounter frustration, would he believe it's OK to diminish his effort when Cleveland is in his rear-view mirror and Miami is set for at least six seasons of a flamboyant superteam?