King James Has Disappeared Down the Miami Memory Hole
Heat Nation is no longer where LeBron James lives. And if you were an alien who watched the team’s latest promotional video, you’d think he never did. The short film, below, features a voice-over of Gill Scott-Heron grandeur and a sweeping, folksy frame of basketball love in Southern Florida. It’s got champagne, parades, and pride — but no sign of the man most responsible for bringing the most of all those things to Dade County:
There are more shots of Ronny Seikaly, Alonzo Mourning, Shaq, Danny Granger and Shabazz Napier in this clip than there are of the man who won two MVP trophies (and two Finals MVPs) as the top Heatle (zero, in case you're counting).
There’s a strange calm that accompanies the omission, though. Inviting the King’s throne into your city’s borders means bringing the non-stop nationwide hullabaloo that follows him, too. Things in Miami are much quieter, calmer, and less loaded with crushing expectations than they have been in recent years.
As Dwyane Wade told Bleacher Report’s Ethan Skolnick at the beginning of the preseason, “Last year wasn't fun. I mean, there was no stretch of it (that was) fun. That whole season, to me, it's amazing we made it to the Finals. It's just honest. Just this year, coming in, I can see, even in the coaches, there's just a different renewed focus and energy. No one knows what it's going to lead to. No one knows if that's going to lead to a Finals win or Finals loss or not the Finals at all. But right now it's good for everyone to come in every day and want to be here."
LeBron brought a previously unheard-of level of attention to roundball in Miami. Now that he’s left and taken his championship-or-bust circus with him, we’ll find out whether the team’s fanbase actually loves the game or not. As claustrophobic as the sport’s biggest name can make things feel — and as free and personalized as the team might feel to its city now—mediocrity and mere playoff berths might not be to Miami’s liking.
— John Wilmes