A lot has happened over the past few days. Here are my thoughts on all the issues...
Before I start, let me just say that since LeBron lost in the playoffs, I've been 75% certain that he's coming to the Bulls. He wants to win and the Bulls give him the best chance to do so. Also, LeBron's childhood favorite team was the Bulls. And no matter what a grown man says or what situation he's in now, everyone wants to play for their childhood favorite team. And when that team also just happens to give you the best chance to win a championship? It's almost a foregone conclusion he's coming to the Bulls. But a lot's happened recently. Let's look at the events and see how they've affected things.
Larry King Interview - They might as well have nicknamed this the "Coming to Chicago" interview. James openly claimed his love for the Bulls, saying he didn't go to Cavs games when he grew up. He went to Bulls games. He loves Michael Jordan. He loves Chicago. He loves that Obama was campaigning for him to come here. Even though he said the Cavs had an "edge," in getting him back, if you watch the tape, it seems more like King led him into the answer, almost cornering him. "So the Cavs probably have the edge...right?" What is James going to say there? "No?" He just sort of half-heartedly agrees with King in a conversational manner. The "I'm leaving Cleveland" moment for me came when James was asked about the economic responsibility he has in Cleveland. He totally distanced himself from that responsibility, essentially saying, "I can't worry about that." That's an answer from someone who's convinced he's leaving and doesn't want to be locked into some previous statement that can be brought up as evidence that he deceived and abandoned Cleveland. In short, after this interview, I was convinced that James was coming to Chicago.
After James Interview - Likelihood of James coming to Chicago - 90%
Danny Ferry ousted as GM. -- So from everything I've read (a lot of it here), there seems to be some confusion as to whether Ferry and LeBron liked each other. Some say they were besties, others enemies. Supposedly Gilbert (Cleveland owner) plays the coddling role to LeBron and gives him everything he wants. This conflicted with Ferry's take, who wanted to take a harsher stance. He particularly didn't like the organization hiring all of LeBron's friends. So while at first I thought this might have meant Gilbert had some info that if he got rid of Ferry, LeBron would sign with the Cavs, I now just believe that Gilbert and Ferry didn't get along, so he got rid of him. Still, I have to think that Gilbert at least ran the idea by LeBron to get his approval. That tells me they're talking, which isn't good for the Bulls.
After Danny Ferry ousted - Likelihood of James coming to Chicago - 80%
Thibedoau (I don't care if I spelled it wrong) and World Wide Wes - People are speculating that the heavy rush to sign Thibs this weekend meant they had some sort of inside information that LeBron would come if they brought him on as coach. This had something to do with Thibs being repped by Leon Rose, who worked for World Wide Wes (who the hell is this guy and how come we all know his name now?) now that Wes was officially an agent (which begs the question - what the hell did he do before he became an agent), which meant in some weird roundabout way, Wes was orchestrating the deal so that LeBron could go to Chicago. Wes has also (allegedly) been telling people that LeBron is leaning hard towards Chicago. What does it all mean? I personally think Wes is an interesting personality who's fun to bring up in conversation, and that reality is leading to a lot of World Wide Wes rumors. The reality is probably that World Wide Wes and LeBron talk less than once a week. I don't put too much stock into this.
After Thibs and Wes rumors - Likelihood of James coming to Chicago - 80%
Carmelo - Carmelo recently stated that he thinks LeBron is leaning towards Cleveland. This is the scariest statement I've heard since the Cavs lost in the playoffs. The reason being is that even though Carmelo said it's just a "gut feeling," he made it clear that he's talked to LeBron several times in the last couple of weeks. Besides the King Interview, this is the most credible info to come out about LeBron's decision-making process, because Carmelo is a reliable source and the two have known each other forever. I thought for sure LeBron was coming to Chicago until I heard this report.
After Carmelo statement - Likelihood of James coming to Chicago - 40%
Be careful what you wish for - The most interesting thing about this week though, is how the backlash on the LeBron free agency tour has begun. Part of the problem here is that LeBron wasn't prepared for being ousted from the playoffs so early. This has had the unfortunate effect of pitting his free agency against the NBA Finals, and making LeBron look like even more of an attention-seeking diva than he already is. This hit a climax when Kobe was asked about it by the press and he said, point blank, "I don't give a $@#&." I think that's the moment when LeBron was like, "Whoa, this is not how I imagined it." I mean, this whole thing was supposed to be fun. He didn't get to experience the whole college recruitment thing. Now he was finally getting that chance. But when cities and individuals start putting together hundred thousand dollar or MILLION dollar campaigns to lure him. When Cleveland has basically told him, "If you leave us, you economically destroy our city." I mean it all got really serious really fast, and it's clear that there's going to be one very happy city after all this, and five cities that hate LeBron more than anything. I'm just not sure he thought that through when he originally conceived of this free agency stuff. And a part of me thinks that will influence LeBron to just be done with it and sign with Cleveland, because it will result in the least amount of backlash from the rest of the nation. LeBron has unwittingly gotten himself into a huge mess here and it's only going to get worse. The worse it gets, the more likely it is he'll go with the safe choice. And that's Cleveland. Uck.
Now that the reality of free agency has hit him - Likelihood of James coming to Chicago - 35%
And there are my thoughts. For better or worse!