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Art Garcia

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There have been many different reactions around the league to LeBron James joining the Miami Heat.
Doug Benc

Differing opinions around the league about LeBron's decision


Posted Jul 10 2010 3:29PM

LAS VEGAS -- Mark Cuban agreed with the outrage. Alvin Gentry didn't take issue with The Decision.

Don Nelson called it a travesty for the franchise and for Cleveland. A former teammate said turnabout is fair play.

The dust is far from settled from LeBron James' move from Northeast Ohio to South Beach, and polarizing opinions remain. There's never going to be a consensus on LeBron's choice to sign with Miami after seven years with the Cavaliers.

He's a villain and a savior. Just depends on your side.

Cavs owner Dan Gilbert sided with the former, firing off a scathing personal attack of James via the team's website shortly after Thursday night's decision. Cuban probably would have done the same if faced with a similar flight.

"I don't blame him," Cuban said Friday as the NBA Summer League opened. "It's the same passion and emotion that comes with owning a team. You're not just a robot. You put your heart, your soul and every bit of your emotion into owning a team.

"You connect to the community. You feel an obligation to the community, Dallas, Cleveland, Northeast Ohio, whatever it may be. You're kind of the caretaker. You feel responsible. You have responsibility not just for winning, but for the whole community."

Gentry can relate to Cleveland's pain. Amar'e Stoudemire signed with New York after spending the first eight years of his career in Phoenix. As much as it hurt, Gentry understood Stoudemire's right to continue his career elsewhere.

"Did we hate losing Amar'e? Heck yeah," the Suns coach said. "Was Amar'e as important to us as LeBron to them? It's pretty close. He's been on a team the last seven years that's been to three conference finals and he's been the leading scorer on the team every year.

"Obviously, we hate losing Amar'e, but he made a business decision and we wish him nothing but the best. Once he made his decision, it didn't change our opinion of Amar'e Stoudemire. He's a great kid, he had great years in Phoenix and we wish him the best."

The same goes for LeBron.

"The guy has a right to play wherever he wants to play," Gentry added. "That's one of the things about free agency. I know he had seven great years in Cleveland. He did do a lot for that franchise and the city of Cleveland. They almost won a championship there.

"I don't think people realize how difficult it is to win a championship. If he does choose to play somewhere else, that's his right. I'm a little bit disappointed that the owner would come out and say those things."

Don Nelson has witnessed firsthand more games than anyone in league history. He's seen stars come and go, dynasties rise and fall. This was a first.

"It was a travesty for Cleveland and franchises that get a good player and try to build around them and, through no reason of their own, lose him through free agency," Golden State's coach said. "I think it's a travesty that players can talk and scheme and decide they want to build one franchise up, and yet we as general managers, coaches, owners can't speak to one another. It's a one-sided deal."

Nelson and Cuban don't agree on much, but on the issue of players making group decisions, they found common ground. The Mavericks owner said the league ought to dig deeper into such situations.

"You've probably got to take a closer look at how we enforce the tampering laws," Cuban said. "I don't know if there really is a solution, but you've got to at least look at it."

Coby Karl wonders why all the fuss. As someone who's already been cut three times in his budding career, the Denver summer leaguer and former James teammate understood LeBron's motivation to join Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh with the Heat.

"It's a business and he did what was best for his family," said Karl, a member of the Cavaliers early last season. "It shows that he wants to win. Many times players have felt slighted by an organization. Many, many, many times. Probably more than vice versa. I'm happy for him. I think it shows that he wants to win."

Such a stance falls hollow to many. Nelson, for one, isn't sure how the Cavs bounce back without their homegrown former King.

"They did everything they could," he said. "They tried to build a good team around him. They went out and got players and it wasn't working now but that doesn't mean it's not going to work. And they get punished for it. They get kicked in the teeth. It's just not right."

And Gilbert's letter is hardly wrong in Cuban's eyes, even though it contained personal attacks criticized in many circles as unbecoming an owner of a professional franchise.

"He sent a message," Cuban said. "The message was received loud and clear. He didn't mince any words of where he stood. It wasn't like if he didn't write it he would have approached it any differently. But he sent a message to everybody involved saying exactly what he was feeling."

Not everyone feels the same.

Art Garcia has covered the NBA since 1999. You can e-mail him here and follow him on twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting.

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