Do you think LeBron James was frustrated with his lack of a supporting cast on Sunday? He scored 27 points, but Larry Hughes was the only other player to crack double-digits. And not to kick a city while its down, but do you ever get the feeling that LeBron might not be so excited about staying in Cleveland?
Check out the post-game press conference on NBA.com. It's about 30 minutes long, but skip ahead to the 24:20 minute mark -- you can fast forward as soon as you're done sitting through that first 30 second commercial. (If anyone is smart enough to know how to get this on YouTube, please do and drop me a line in the comments.)
Now pay attention as LeBron James comes onto the stage: he walks up to the table carrying a New York Yankees hat. He tries to act casual as he tosses it on the table, but before he sits down note how he carefully rotates the hat so that the NY logo can be seen by all the cameras. After taking questions for a few minutes, he puts the hat on before standing up and walking off the stage.
Was it a sign? We've heard speculation for years that he might bolt the Cavs to sign with a New York team, if not the Knicks then perhaps the Nets. Who would want to play in New Jersey, right? Well, bear in mind, not only are the Nets are partially owned by LeBron's good friend and childhood hero rapper Jay-Z, they're scheduled to move into a new arena in Brooklyn in 2009. The Knicks currently have a stranglehold on the New York hoops scene, but if you don't think the Brooklyn Nets featuring LeBron James can't instantly become the hottest ticket in town -- and therefore, the league -- you're smoking something dangerous.
I could be blowing this out of proportion -- for all I know, he's known for wearing a Yankees hat after every game. But it just seemed so un-nonchalant (or would that be just "chalant"?) during the post-game press conference.
There is, of course, the fact that Dan Gilbert and the Cavaliers will be able to offer LeBron the most money to stay in Cleveland, but LeBron's endorsements are rumored to have some big-market kickers. Rob Parker mentioned this in the Detroit News on Saturday:
Another factor, moles say, is that James' $100 million deal with Nike doubles if he plays in Chicago, L.A. or New York.
That's what you call a salary-cap buster.
Ouch. Something to think about during your long summer vacation, Cleveland.
[Edit: FYI, The Cavalier from YAYsports! completely shoots down this theory, saying the rumor of LBJ's endorsement money doubling has already been shot down "8 mergillion times." I'm not sure how many times that is, but I'm pretty sure it's more than two, and he'd certainly know better than I.]
Edit II: I'm not the only one talking about this -- Henry Abbot from True Hoop noticed it, too.]