Let's start with Dan Gilbert's letter, which will be sprinkled into this post via screen grabs. Holy [redacted]. You never see that. Ever. A complete evisceration. He burned the bridge to the ground, then lit the ashes on fire, then peeled off a layer of LeBron's skin, used it to roll the ashes into a LeBron-skin cigar, then smoked it. It was like a drunk 3 a.m. e-mail to someone who just dumped you. Only instead of hitting delete because the catharsis was really just in writing it, Gilbert hit send. It wasn't terribly professional, but we have to say: Cleveland probably needed and deserved it. LeBron certainly deserved it.
Shapoopi! But seriously. Even though Cleveland seemed to be fading from the picture as Thursday went along and reports of Miami being the choice seemed more credible, those who clung to the idea that he would stick with the Cavs did so because they simply couldn't imagine LeBron going on national TV to rip a state's heart out. "The Decision" is a good thing if you're a Cavs fan, it was reasoned. Turns out? Not so much. It was Miami all along. (Note: It gave us great pleasure that Brian Windhorst beat ESPN to the punch with absolute confirmation last night about a minute before LeBron said it).
You can't blame an athlete for wanting to win. But you can blame him for how he went about announcing it, which was one of the most unifying moments of distaste against an athlete and network we have ever seen. And you most certainly -- if you have a competitive bone in your body -- wince at the way these three gentlemen (especially LeBron) went about trying to assemble a championship team. It's natural to want better players around you; it's cowardly to try and stack the deck. Any championship LeBron wins with the Heat will ring hollow. Real competitors like Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson ... heck ... even Kobe Bryant ... they know this. Those are top dogs. LeBron's just a mercenary. There is no parallel to this. Boston brought three guys together in 2008, but they were veterans at least a year or two past their primes. This is different. It's unseemly.
That said, the amusing thing of it is that it could blow up in their faces. With three huge contracts for two elite stars and a pretty good big man, the Heat will be woefully thin on the bench and guaranteed nothing. As Simmons noted before this all became official, the looming labor strife means it's less likely they can add talent at a discount. On many nights, the talent and will of Wade and LeBron (again, Bosh is a distant third wheel in this equation) will be enough. But in a long playoff series? Or with one injury? Hard to say.
As part of the process of trying to build around these guys, the Heat late last night gave away Michael Beasley to the Wolves. Remember the 2008 draft? Rose or Beasley ... Beasley or Rose. Beasley has had an up-and-down first couple of years, but he's still a versatile young player who averaged nearly 15 ppg last season and was an unstoppable force in college. To give up just a second-round pick (and a swap of first rounders that could come several years down the line when the Heat's Hired Guns have broken up) is an absolute steal for the Wolves and makes them at least more intriguing as we head toward the start of the season. Put it this way: Do you feel good about paying Beasley about one-third of what David Lee is getting in Golden State? Yeah you do. There are a lot of unassembled puzzle pieces, but with Beasley, Wesley Johnson and Martell Webster joining the fold, there are options. In this bizarro offseason, LeBron's decision ends up helping the Wolves.
As for the Cavs, well, Gilbert might need a few more sheets of paper before all is said and done.