LeBron James put another feather in his overstuffed cap this weekend when he accepted his second straight NBA MVP award at a raucous celebration in his hometown of Akron. The major theme of the party was how much James loved Akron and how proud he was to be a son of Akron who had put it on the map.
Yet all that love didn't stop him from giving a straight answer a question about how he could even contemplate leaving such an embrace when he becomes a free agent after the season.
"No matter what might be ahead of me, throughout my whole life, I will never be gone from this," he said. "Akron, Ohio is my home. It will always be remembered. Akron, Ohio is my life. I love this city."
It takes a man truly aware of how much his every word is being parsed to come up with a statement as perfectly balanced as the one above. Within seconds he goes from suggesting his life path will take him far away from Ohio to saying that he'll never venture beyond the outskirts of Cuyahoga County and sounds totally sincere on both counts. Unsurprisingly, his words launched another round of speculation on James's plans.
Michael Lee of the Washington Post called the response "somewhat cryptic" while Chris Broussard of ESPN used his speech as a launching pad for a column on how James isn't leaving Ohio this offseason. Alan Hahn of Newsday, meanwhile, seized on the fact that James has proclaimed love for both Cleveland and New York in the past and wondered if Cleveland is his "Jennifer and New York is Angelina."
That last one is the best of the lot because it gets right to the heart of how ridiculous the situation surrounding James's impending free agency has become. It would be easier to come up with a plausible ending for "Lost" than it would be to convince anyone that you know what's guiding James's decision.
The smart money, literally and figuratively, may still be on Cleveland -- but if James is willing to keep playing the game, why should anyone else stop?