This isn’t easy, but I’m going on the record and admitting that I had one of the most idiotic ideas of all time: I really thought that the Cavaliers, who held the first overall pick in the 2003 NBA Draft, should have drafted Carmelo Anthony over LeBron James.
At the time, Anthony had just finished single-handedly leading his Syracuse University team to a national championship. James had won a national title the year before as well, only his was won in the polls and not on the court.
I figured that Anthony’s title run, which included victories over numerous NCAA powerhouses, showed how great he could be. LeBron was playing against a bunch of pimple-faced teenagers. Surely, Carmelo was the right choice for the Cavs.
Well, the Cavaliers disagreed with my 14-year-old eye for talent and went ahead and drafted the local product James anyway.
Boy, are they lucky they did.
LeBron James changed the Cavaliers franchise overnight, literally.
In Cleveland, it seems like we have this mental problem where we always expect the worse to happen to our sports franchises. I don’t want to say that we expect to lose, but let’s just say we don’t expect to win. With good reason, I suppose, seeing as how this town has not won a major sports championship since 1964.
But James expected to win. Slowly, but surely, fans expected to win. Fast forward to this year, James’ fifth in the NBA, and the Cavaliers sit atop the league with the best record.
As we wind up the NBA regular season and approach the playoffs, there’s just a different feel around the city. We expect to win, and James is to be thanked for that.
In all seriousness, I expect LeBron and the James Gang to finish what they have started. I think the whole city does. If there isn’t a parade down Euclid Avenue in mid-June, I would be stunned.
I don’t want to get all dramatic and say that LeBron has entirely turned the city around. What he’s doing, in the big scheme of things, really isn’t all that important. But in a city that is hit especially hard by the tough economy, it doesn’t hurt to have something to hang your hat on, like being home to the best team in the NBA.
Currently, Anthony’s Denver Nuggets were leading the Northwest division, and he has certainly turned out to be a terrific pro player. But few, if any, players are able to do what LeBron does.
I’m sorry for ever doubting him.