Buckle up and hunker down, Cleveland. The time has come.
For the next six-plus weeks, Cleveland will be the center of the NBA universe. Never mind that the playoffs haven't reached critical mass yet. No problem. LeBron James has more than taken care of that.
Whether you like it or not, the national spotlight will fall on Cleveland on a daily basis, or until James decides where he wants to play basketball for at least the next three years. Get ready for what will amount to a soap opera.
LJTV, a.k.a. ESPN, presents the LeBron James Saga, a 50-part series starring LeBron James, co-starring LeBron James, with LeBron James, and LeBron James, with specialist guest appearance by LeBron James as himself, extra special cameo appearance by LeBron James, set decoration by LeBron James, written by LeBron James, produced by LeBron James and directed by LeBron James. Executive Producer: LeBron James.
It's true; the planet revolves around LeBron James.
The fate of the Cleveland Cavaliers, a team birthed by Nick Mileti way back in 1970, now teeters in a suspended state in the meantime while the anointed one and his minions determine the next terrestrial stop on the road to iconic stardom.
There are too many possibilities to break down here. Suffice it to say, James has the pick of the litter. From downtrodden teams like the New York Knicks, Minnesota Timberwolves, Los Angeles Clippers and New Jersey Nets to an up-and-comer like the Chicago Bulls. Or, perhaps, mining his loyalties and remaining in Cleveland. The fate of the Cavaliers franchise hangs in the balance.
If he chooses to stays in Cleveland (and the odds on that are 50-50 at best right now, although a month ago I believed it was 100% certain), then Dan Gilbert's investment is safe. But if he opts to ply his craft elsewhere, the franchise is as good as dead. Yep, that's how much he means to it. It will be the beginning of the end and the club will eventually wind up in another city. So in a large sense, James hold the franchise's future in his hands.
From now until July 1, and maybe even beyond that point, we will be sucked into the vortex of LeBronomania as the world eagerly and anxiously awaits the command decision.
Pundits around the globe will speculate on a daily basis. And to no one's surprise, a vast majority of the fans will hang on just about every word.
Rumors will pour out incessantly from the wide, wonderful world of the World Wide Web. Virtually none will be true, but that won't stop the pundits and fans from reacting. Sides will be taken. Harsh, mean words will be exchanged.
Along the way, we will be subjected to "exclusive inside information" and "you heard it here first" reports in an effort to be first with the news. Get used to it. It ain't gonna stop until James plops down in front of a microphone at a news conference that is certain to be televised around the globe and shares his secret.
And when it all shakes out, there is only one bottom line: New York, New Jersey, Chicago, Minnesota and Los Angeles need LeBron more than LeBron needs them. But the NBA will survive no matter where LeBron Lelands.
So buckle up and hunker down, Cleveland. And if you can, enjoy the ride. The end just might surprise you.