Jun 8, 2018; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) talks in a press conference after loosing to the Golden State Warriors in game four of the 2018 NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Sheridan: LeBron is leaving Cleveland, but no clues in the shoes

CLEVELAND (GetMoreSports.com) — No clues in the shoes.

LeBron James walked out of Quicken Loans arena at roughly 12:45 a.m. this morning, wearing a pair of jet black shoes (no socks) with a tiny pair of Italian flags in the back. Red, green and white? Go figure.

The shoes are only important because exactly eight years ago, I followed James down the same hallway and onto the same loading dock where the Cavs players park their cars. Back then, James was wearing a pair of kicks with neon pink stripes, which I took as a clue that he was headed to Miami. (At the time, the Heat were wearing retro pink-hued ABA throwback jerseys.)

And given the fact that I had interviewed Pat Riley in his office a few months earlier and he had told me straight up that he was going to try to put together a Big Three, I simply put two and two together and tried to make sense of it.

I was expecting that another dead giveaway would be found Friday night by peeking into corners of the arena were I have covered probably 100 games, but none were forthcoming.

The closest thing we got was a postgame news conference by James that sounded much like a farewell address. Cavs fans who wanted even a glimmer of hope were shut out. Swept, in a way.

The guy is leaving, and I do not know where he is going. On Twitter, I was asked to take my best guess, but I do not like guessing. The place that makes the most sense to me is Los Angeles, and if I had to make a gun-to-my-head prediction, I would predict the Lakers. The reasons why are already documented.

But the only man who known for sure may not know for sure just yet. If this July is anything like the summer of “The Decision” eight years ago, LeBron may not make up his mind until the first week of July.

“I mean, I have no idea at this point,” James said, a black baseball cap pulled low on his head, shielding his eyes from being seen in plain view. “The one thing that I’ve always done is considered, obviously, my family. Understanding especially where my boys are at this point in their age. They were a lot younger the last time I made a decision like this four years ago. I’ve got a teenage boy, a pre-teen and a little girl that wasn’t around as well. So sitting down and considering everything, my family is a huge part of whatever I’ll decide to do in my career, and it will continue to be that.

Jun 8, 2018; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) leaves the floor after game four of the 2018 NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

“At the end of the day, I came back because I felt like I had some unfinished business. To be able to be a part of a championship team two years ago with the team that we had and in the fashion that we had is something I will always remember. Honestly, I think we’ll all remember that. It ended a drought for Cleveland of 50-plus years, so I think we’ll all remember that in sports history,” James said.

In another part of the arena, the carpet on the floor of the Golden State Warriors’ locker room was so drenched with Moet champagne, it was puddling up. Steve Kerr’s dress shirt was soaked so thoroughly, it might as well have been part of a wetsuit. There were too many games of “how do you make champagne spray out of a bottle?” being played to even try to keep track.

But while the night was partly about the Warriors winning the NBA championship for the third time in four years, the site of the game made them somewhat of an afterthought in the minds of the local populace  — not to mention the rest of the NBA universe, too.

The question of who will win the 2019 title (the Warriors are even-money favorites) will be impacted by where James decides to play next, and the possibilities have been well-documented and well-handicapped.

Sheridan: Kawhi Leonard is not going to Los Angeles…or anywhere else nearby

The guy who asked the final question was Marc Stein of the New York Times, who wondered whether LeBron may someday want to be an NBA owner.

“Well, that top athlete money-per year thing came out last week and I was sixth, so I’m in no way, shape and form putting myself in a position right now to own a team. I think Floyd (Mayweather)
was 1 at like 252. Obviously, I don’t have a boxing hand,” said James, who injured his right hand — he called it ”basicallly broken” — in some sort of a post-Game 1 tantrum.

Jun 8, 2018; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) reacts with teammates at the bench after leaving the game during the fourth quarter in game four of the 2018 NBA Finals Golden State Warriors at Quicken Loans Arena. David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

“So boxing won’t be the sport I’ll be going to. I don’t know. At the end of the day, for me, staying around the game, being around the game will be something I’ll probably do for the rest of my life, either while I’m playing for this later stage of my career, advising people in the NBA or whatever the case may be. I’ve got two boys that play the game as well. So I don’t know.

“I can’t predict the future on ownership and things of that nature. But I have a lot of knowledge of the game. I understand talent. I know talent. I know the right questions to ask certain guys and see if they’re smart enough to actually think the game as well. So we’ll see what happens.”

Yes, we will. And we won’t have any hints to work with, spoken or worn on the King’s bare feet.

Place your bets.

Sports Betting Tips with Chris Sheridan Podcast

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About Chris Sheridan

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Chris Sheridan is a veteran sports journalist who previously covered the NBA for ESPN. He worked for the Associated Press for 18 years, and also served as the 76ers beat writer for NJ.com. Sheridan is the host of Sports Betting Tips, a podcast covering all things gambling.

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