The champagne was on ice. The Facebook status update was ready.
Even when The Decision was hours and then minutes away, and everyone, even Chris "I've-been-wrong-about-basically-everything-so-far-but-ESPN-still-somehow-refers-to-me-as-an-'expert'" Broussard was reporting that he was going to Miami, I still fully expected him to surprise everyone and put on a Knicks hat. When he told us he would be "taking his talents" elsewhere, everyone at the bar started cursing and spitting venom. I just sat there. "Dude," Ramsey looked at me puzzled. "Why aren't you saying anything?"
I wasn't angry (you can't really get mad at someone for doing what they're entitled to do). This felt different, and way more complicated. This was being SURE you understood the way someone was wired (which in today's world is possible with people you've never met), and revered them for it, only to find out they're COMPLETELY different -- like when you found out Washington and Jefferson were slave-owners, or that Santa Claus was actually your parents.
It wasn't even about the Knicks: I know they've got a good, non-Isiah GM now who will (eventually) make things OK. (In fact, an equally delusional Ramsey was already trying to convince me of this on the way home, calling the David Lee trade "the deal of the century" and telling me that "good role players are the real key to winning"). I couldn't worry about any of that, though. I felt too stupid to predict the future. No one psychologically screwed this up more than I did.
So LeBron will make far less money now (salary-wise, and obviously in endorsements), but I guess he doesn't care about that. He's obliterated his image -- his "brand", if you will -- but perhaps he doesn't care about that either. And he's probably destroyed his legacy**, which -- and this I think was the hardest part for me to swallow -- might have never mattered to him as much as all of us hoped. Maybe all he truly wanted was to hang with his two new BFFs in a really fun place, and totally dominate (and hopefully not destroy) the NBA in the process.
Or maybe he just didn't want Lindsey to have to write a column.
**There's actually two ways he can maybe still save it: 1) Win 5 championships with the Heat (beating out Wade for Finals MVP in at least 3 of them), THEN sign somewhere else and win 5 more as the undisputed star, or 2) As my little brother writes in his blog (www.oldvsnewschool.blogspot.com), win 5 championships with the Heat (again, with 3 Finals MVPs), then sign with the Dolphins and pair with Brandon Marshall to form the most freakishly scary wide receiver duo the world has ever seen. If scenario 2 somehow happens, I'll forgive LeBron for everything.