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2010-2011 NBA Chats: Lebron James' Return, Mo Williams Insomnia, Fan Heartache Reconsidered

LeBron James returned to Cleveland and everyone had something to say about fans and former teammates reaction to the alleged "traitor." We reconsider these reactions the best way we know how: through the angle of a bad breakup.

Week-to-week, Eric Perdiguerra and Brian Chung, two huge Bay Area sports fans with an equally huge appetite for losing, chat about the biggest headlines in the NBA. Perdiguerra is a local streetwear designer based in Emeryville and Brian Chung longs for when the Warriors will finally have a center as dominant as Alton Lister. Together they WILL chat about every and anything from Tony Parker-Eva Longoria breakup to Dallas Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle's current haircut. Follow us weekly!

Face it fellas, we love drama as much as women do. Professional wrestling of the WWF variety is proof that we love the gossip and deceit like day-time soaps, except in the context of sports uniforms and sport courts. The same could be said for a variety of sports, like why do we care that Terrell Owens cried at a press conference? Why do we enjoy the scandals of Coach Josh McDaniels' staff member video-taped a segment of the San Francisco 49ers practice while in London?

While there is no answer, its clear that we men (and women) love the cattiness and bickering that happens "behind closed doors" of the ultimate man-cave, "the locker room." And this past week provided the ultimate man-drama with Lebron James' return to Cleveland, filled with lots of cold shouldering, fan taunting of 2004 Pistons vs. Pacers levels, and Lebron's ultimate middle-fingering in tremendous stats and mid-game muscle-flexing. Fans, teammates, and scary Cleveland owner Dan Gilbert all had snarky responses to welcome Lebron back in town. The fans went so far as to create "chant sheets" broken down by specific junctures at the game (described as "civic pride"). But was this fair? If you were in their shoes, would you have gone the way of Mo Williams and totally blown off Lebron? Or would you have been more Boobie Gibson, entertaining Lebron a friend, but foe at the moment? Or would you go the fan route and follow the chants?

So Eric, if you were a teammate, fan, or Dan Gilbert, what would have done? And why?

E: Yeah, I don't know, B. Breakups are hard, man. And this particular break up may have been one of the most chronicled one in recent memory, with all due respect to those Hollywood relationships I'd rather not mention here. I can only imagine what it was like for LeBron to tell Akron he needed some space. Cavaliers fans probably saw it coming too, seeing signs here and there that told them the end was inevitable, only to hold out hope that the guy they believed to be the one, who they had been so understandably in love with since his youth, would give them another chance. I mean they were his first love, why would he even think of being someone else's? But from the moment LeBron let it be known that he wasn't going to sign an extension, he had at least in his mind started flirting with the idea of flirting with someone else.

("Swingers" (1996), for Eric, explains the trauma of break ups)

After seven of the greatest years Akron had ever seen, the chosen one went on national television and in front of the entire world told the Cavaliers and their fans (his fans) that it wasn't them, it was him, that it wasn't something they had done, it was something he needed to do. Initially it would hurt him as much as it hurts them, but maybe sometime in the future, Cleveland Cavaliers fans would thank him for letting them go. Of course, it didn't quite help that LeBron's new other half happened to be a city known for its scantily clad citizens and sexy nightlife, and not to mention two of his new teammates in particular happen to be Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade. It's like not only did he opt for better scenery, this new girl was definitely way hotter.

That's a lot to take in and four months is a pretty short time frame to see an ex, especially after a substantially messy break up. I think the beauty of the whole thing is that it left every single one of LeBron's exes, from his former boss Dan Gilbert, to his jilted teammates, to the betrayed fans, a wide open arena to express their emotions, whichever they may be. There was no telling what they were going to do, but for the most part they did it in unison. What's your whole take on the matter?

B: When you put it like that, I could see how players like Mo Williams were (reportedly) thinking about retirement with Lebron gone. After going the last 3 years as Lebron's wingman and being marketed as such, you're right, it is quite a slap in the face to suddenly be treated by Lebron as the "ugly ex." Which leads me to wonder what kind of lies did Lebron tell them from jump? Did he tease them night in night out like a bad boyfriend or cheater would? Talking about commitment when when, clearly, Lebron just wanted to "Toot it and Boot it"? For that, I could understand the cold shoulder from Mo Williams and from his other teammates. But honestly, even after a break up like this, you got to play it cool. It's not about being 'the better man,' it's just about making sure people believe you're 'ok' and that you've moved on, too. Lebron may have Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade now, but Mo Williams has..J.J. Hickson? And if you believe Hickson is a great replacement, he can be...right?

But at the same time, some of these heartbroken guys had to have known that Lebron was their meal ticket and for some of them -- Mo Williams included -- would not have been "all-stars" without him. To some degree, these players are equally getting something out of the arrangement. Take Boobie Gibson for instance. When Gibson's non-guaranteed contract was up, Lebron, allegedly, demanded that the Cavs re-sign him. Without Lebron, I highly doubt Gibson, an undersized spot-up shooting combo guard that can't play point, could have secured the 4 year, $16 million dollar contract he's currently on. Players like Gibson are a dime a dozen (apparently Keyshia Cole doesn't think so) and it says something that the Cavs went and signed a slew of rangy wings for lesser pay than Gibson to shore up the shooting and defense. All this is to say that, as much as it hurts and I can understand the betrayal, it feels that these guys are also mad that their fun and, more importantly, their ability to get paid is now in jeopardy.

But, it definitely feels like a break up when Mo Williams is Tweeting at 5:30am after the Heat vs. Cavs game that he can't sleep. Eric, you gotta think that this Tweet is going too far:

"It's 5:30am. I still aint closed my eyes. Cleve deserved a win tonight. We let u down. But know that our hearts was out there also. LOVE YALL"

E: Hahaha. Somewhere out there in Akron someone just had his feelings eased and can sleep a little bit better now that Mo Williams ensured he loved them. I got to hand it to the fans for their enthusiasm. I was a bit concerned with all the press that had come out about Dan Gilbert's reluctance to allow fans to wear negative anti-king apparel and signs would make for a muted backdrop to the game. But from the Le-Quit James jerseys, Quitness signs, to the "Akron Hates You" chants, to the reception he got from Mo and Boobie, the Cavs and their fans definitely represented out there. Although they were blown out behind a tremendous effort by their ex, it really did seem like at least emotionally LeBron was effected by it all. Just the look on LeBron's face after Mo Williams' response to him said enough. I know in a short time everyone will probably just move on, but really B, what do you think it would be like if the same exact same thing happened here in Golden State?

B: The fans definitely deserved to do whatever they want and I, too, was impressed by their "creativity." I mean, coordinated chanting during the game? That's taking boo-ing to the next level! I don't think Warriors were ever that creative with their hate for Mike Dunleavy Jr. aside from "You suck!" or mocking him with "MVP" chants when he shot free throws.

BUT, for Clevelanders to call collective boo-ing "Cleveland Civic Pride," is truly ridiculous. Clevelanders and anyone else, should think about civic pride as common issues like improving educational opportunities/access or how to improve the economic situations in the Rust Belt. If Lebron is the only thing on the brain of Clevelanders (and Mo Williams at 5:30am), they got their priorities out of wack. Sorry Cleveland. I love y'all passion. But maybe calling it "civic pride" wasn't the best choice of words.

Haha, your question about if this happened at Golden State is hilarious to me because I don't think we've had a superstar leave a great relationship abruptly the way Lebron did. We only "give the gift of superstars" then have them play for us. If anything, they've been relationships that have turned sour really quickly. But if it did happen, I don't think the Warrior fans would go to that much effort to create signs and chants. We got bigger things to worry about like stock options in Silicon Valley companies. Jk. But with the turnover on the Warriors roster year-to-year, I can't imagine players caring either. My assumption is that the roster filled with players dying for a (second) chance -- Rodney Carney, Dorell Wright, Jeremy Lin -- are just excited to be in the league still. What do you think? Think we'd go Mo Williams, staying up till 5:30am?

E: Haha, I honestly don't think it'd be quite the same. Maybe we're just used to perennially good players leaving us for greener pastures. Or even just minor bit players. Out here in the Bay it almost seems like we've grown accustom to being the original D-League, the place suspect NBA players who are composed of 50% upside and 50% bust, go to hone their skills the free wheeling run and gun system. Look at the 1997 NBA All Star Game which included Mitch Richmond, Tom Gugliotta, Latrell Spreewell, Chris Gatling, Chris Webber, and Tim Hardaway (Penny Hardaway too if you want to get super technical, but he or course didn't play at all for the W's). Speaking of Mitch Richmond and Tim Hardaway, two parts of the most renowned Warriors trio to date, along with Chris Mullin. They were all traded away at some point in time and had to eventually come back to Oakland and say hello to the fans once again. Even the current league is sprinkled with former Warriors who had left either by trade or by free agency like Baron Davis, Jason Richardson, Gilbert Arenas, Troy Murphy, Mike Dunleavy, Jr., and Anthony Randolph. Baron might probably be the closest thing to the situation. Expectations around here have always been that it has always been ownership's fault or we just couldn't be mad at anyone wanting to leave a losing situation. Almost like, yeah, if I could get out of here I probably would too. So the animosity isn't as great when seeing a former fan favorite donning a new uni. Sometimes it seems like Warriors fans even almost expect a budding star to leave the second he has a chance to.

That said, spawning from his own rendition of the decision, if I'm even at the game, I'm going to let Anthony Tolliver have it the first time he comes back to the Oracle. I know, not quite exactly the same. But he's not even a star, barely an after thought. He deserves a suitable backlash. But the again, isn't he out six to eight weeks?

B: That's sad isn't it. Typically, when people talk about "tradition" they refer to teams like Celtics and Lakers with players like Bill Russell, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Paul Pierce, Kobe Bryant -- all having stayed with one team their whole career. With the way Stephen Curry has struggled on and off so far this season, I wouldn't be surprised by all-star game that we're already planning on where we should trade him.

And Anthony Tolliver should get it from the Warrior fans! Though, getting posterized by Amar'e Stoudemire might have been his greatest gift to the Warriors and we should all collectively respect him for that. You think they'll do a tribute video of Tolliver's highlights, like Knicks did David Lee at MSG, when he returns to the Oracle, which will end with Amare's jam?


(Jim Barnett calls it ferocious. I call it, "dedication")

Lebron's "Decision" is probably the most unique experience in NBA free-agency history given what a spectacle it was. It's difficult to judge Cavaliers fans and former teammates reactions to Lebron's return. Can you blame them for their response? Not at all.

But the whole situation raises interesting questions about how you might respond as a fan had this happened to your home team. Or rather, this situation could even exist on another team.

For these reasons, how do you think you would have responded?