A recent post on Zach's blog has alerted me to an unfortunate truth, and it should alert all Cleveland fans:
Just because LeBron signs his contract extension doesn't mean the rumors will stop.
The leeches and vultures in the national and big-market media will continue to hammer away at Cleveland's collective sanity, using every opportunity they get to insist that LeBron is sending telepathic brain waves to the the Nets, Knicks, Lakers or Bulls.
The latest is the ESPN article Zach linked in his post. ESPN's own braying mule, Stephen A. Smith, reportedly has found out from a mystery source that LeBron will sign a four-year deal with a opt-out clause after the third year, meaning he could become a free agent as early as the summer of 2010.
ESPN hails the move as a "smart deal." Keep in mind that we won't likely know any actual facts until LeBron signs the deal, reportedly later this week.
If the shortened deal is a fact, we should half-expect Greater New York-based ESPN to start a "LeBron ticker," counting down the days until free agency. The ticker's graphics would include a picture of LeBron wearing a Photoshopped Nets jersey if ESPN knew the Cavaliers wouldn't serve them with a tampering lawsuit.
This is all going to be a fact of life for years to come. LeBron could sign a 20-year deal with the Cavs, and at the first sign of trouble -- a three-game losing streak, a public argument with a teammate -- the "LeBron wants to be traded" rumor mill will rumble to life.
Every time he's seen with Jay-Z, every time he's seen wearing a Yankees cap, even every time he gives a quick hug to Vince Carter prior to a Nets-Cavs tipoff, it will serve as LeBron rumor fodder for the East Coast media machine.
Get used to it all. Cleveland is a small burg in fly-over country that has someone the New York market desperately wants, and probably feels it deserves. A once-in-a-generation talent like LeBron spending the balance of his career in a Midwestern speck of a city like Cleveland just doesn't add up to those in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago or Boston. But that attitude should be expected.
As sports fans, residents of those cities are brought up to be boorish, obnoxious, selfish, whiny, arrogant and altogether insufferable. Consider that the vast majority of national media members grew up in a big market, and you can see the obvious carryover of that attitude to ESPN and the like.
If it all gets under your skin a bit too much, the best thing might be to reduce your intake of national sports news for a while. The LeBron rumor machine will never die. The only way you can fight back as a Clevelander is to make sure it falls on deaf ears.