By Paul Hines
MT. VERNON —
LeBron James opted out today.
That might be a bit of jargon for the casual sports fan. Basically, it means James is a free agent. Teams will court him inventively and intensely over the next few months.
Due to the professional basketball salary cap restrictions, fans won't witness an outsized Alex Rodriguez or Albert Pujols contract. Although once the process is done, he will remain a very affluent man. That's for sure.
The process is simple. James will either stay in Miami or select another team. The road to that end game will generate the most speculation of the summer.
Media outlets are already breathlessly reporting Twitter updates from James' wife as if it's a sign – a modern day reading of the tea leaves.
Readers might have already guess where I'm heading with this narrative.
The Decision Part Deux.
No one is asking for it, and no one wants it.
The first round of The Decision played out in 2010 when James jumped off the Cavaliers' ship, he singled-handedly kept from sinking year after year. At that time, it was the only professional team he had played for. There was also the emotional connection with the fan base. James is a native of the Buckeye state. He played his prep basketball in Akron before going straight to the professional ranks in Cleveland.
Numerous national media outlets are already putting a name to James' contemplation on whether to stay in Miami or go to a new team. Some include The Decision II, 2.0 and even Deja Vu. I've gone with Part Deux. It's a nod to Hot Shots Part Deux. It's a movie I've never actually seen, but some things you don't have to watch to know they are truly terrible.
I just hope sports fans don't have to watch an ESPN prime-time telecast of James seated with Jim Gray, talking about how he's keeping his talents in South Beach or taking them elsewhere.
Any sports fan who engages with the big events on a daily basis can name the exact spot where they were on that summer night in 2010. The visuals that played out were just that strange and absurd.
I was sitting in an Indiana newsroom, watching with my co-workers. Even within the moment, we were thinking and talking about how odd it all was.
The backlash was swift, sure and severe.
James' jerseys were burned in Cleveland. He was a national villain. When the Heat made an NBA Finals appearance the following season The Big Three were viewed as mercenaries who didn't deserve a title because they hadn't first struggled and failed for years before reaching the championship mountaintop like previous title holders.
Surely, we're going to see an older and wiser James. At the very least, a more savvy one will emerge. I can't imagine we'll see another made-for-TV spectacle like 2010. James will either return to Miami or leave, and the decision this time will be with as little fanfare as possible.
If we do witness The Decision Part Deux, it will be a sequel to an original that everyone already hated.
Paul Hines is the sports editor at the Register-News.