March 29, 2011
For seven seasons, the Cleveland Cavaliers gave LeBron James(notes) every possible advantage and perk around Quicken Loans Arena. In part, that included giving his lifelong friends and members of his entourage full access as if they were team employees. Because, as long as they kept LeBron happy, they essentially were.
Tuesday night, the Heat play the Cavs in Cleveland, with LeBron coming to Quicken Loans Arena as a visitor for the second time. Except, this time, the Cavs didn't want his entourage in the building before the game. From Brian Windhorst for the Heat Index:
James was delayed in getting into the arena for the Miami Heat's shootaround Tuesday morning when he arrived with a driver and a second car at the entrance of the Cleveland Cavaliers' underground parking garage.
Cavs officials said James eventually was cleared to enter the building, but several people with him were not. The two cars then left, and James alone returned a short time later and was allowed in, officials said.
Cavs spokesman Tad Carper said visiting NBA players are not normally given private car access to the underground garage, but exceptions are made when requests are made in advance.
James, who regularly used a driver when going to shootarounds when he was a member of the Cavs, did not have permission.
Initial rumors suggested that James was denied access because he wasn't on the team bus, although that seems not to have been the case. This is a more minor story, clearly, although still somewhat bizarre. James was the Cavs' top employee for the better part of a decade, and it seems as if the franchise shot down that perk for people that were treated like family less than a year ago.
This seems to be normal procedure for the Cavs, but as Kelly Dwyer said over email a few minutes ago, it feels like taking candy from a baby when he's 26 and you've been force-feeding Skittles down his throat for his entire life. Why choose to deny him privileges when you gave him so much more in the past? Do the rules of competition make it so teams can no longer do favors for people they've known for years?
The Cavs can feel ill will towards LeBron for the embarrassment of "The Decision" in July, but as our mothers taught us when we were young, two instances of acting like children don't make a right. Would anyone be hurt by letting LeBron's friends enter the arena with him? Shouldn't someone rise above this immaturity at some point?