A Few Words For LeBron Before The NBA Finals

The Miami Heat and the Dallas Mavericks begin playing for professional basketball's title Tuesday night. It wasn't too long ago that Miami added superstar LeBron James to their impressive starting lineup. The expectations were the Heat needed to win — and fast. So far, they have.

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NBA F: Chris Bosh and LeBron James.

The day after James announced his departure from Cleveland, Kenny Malone of member station WLRN in Miami had a few words of wisdom for South Florida's new king. And with the Heat just four wins away from a title, Malone has a few more words.

KENNY MALONE: King, it's been about a year since I last wrote, and let's be honest, it hasn't been the smoothest year. But we've been very forgiving. We were so excited 11 months ago when you went on ESPN and said you were taking your talents to South Beach, even though it turns out you don't actually live or play basketball on South Beach.

We chuckled and let it slide. But then your mom did take a trip to Miami Beach.

Unidentified Man #1: That's valet parking. We had a battery incident just now.

MALONE: She was arrested for whacking a hotel valet with her purse. We shook our heads, King, but we understood your difficult position.

BRON JAMES: It's very sensitive because it's your mother, of course. So if you guys want to ask me anything else about basketball, I'm happy to answer.

MALONE: But, King LeBron James, there is one thing we will not forgive...

FRANK COTO: Look, as a representative of all Miami fans, if the Heat don't win, of course we're going to riot.

MALONE: Frank Coto has watched almost every one of the 94 games you've played in this season. He's wearing your replica jersey, and he's already ironed on an NBA championship patch.

COTO: There's no way the Miami Heat will not win the championship. You know, God forbid, if the Miami Heat do not in fact win the championship this year, it's a bust season.

MALONE: Coto has spent hundreds of dollars on tickets watching your home games, and hundreds more at sports bars watching your away games. But it's more than just personal investment.

Last week, a University of Miami professor proved it.

ALOK KUMAR: That's true, that's exactly what we find in this paper.

MALONE: Alok Kumar showed that economic recessions are shorter and expansions are longer in cities that are happier, from nice weather and good sports teams. Sunny Miami has 13 percent unemployment, King LeBron.

KUMAR: It's not unreasonable to conjecture that local optimism generated by a local sports team acts as a Prozac for the local economy. So I can say: Go Heat.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

(SOUNDBITE OF TELEPHONE)

MALONE: Before I go, I wanted to remind you a little something about promises.

JIM ANGELO: Hello.

MALONE: Jim, my friend and life-long Cleveland sports fan, I'm giving you the last word.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

ANGELO: I don't know if it's appropriate for the radio.

MALONE: King LeBron, you were a home-state hero to Ohioans born and bred. And before you left the Cavaliers you went on NBA TV. You told Jim Angelo and all the other Cleveland sports fans that you have a goal.

JAMES: And that's a huge goal. And that's to bring an NBA championship here to Cleveland, and I won't stop until I get it.

MALONE: But you did stop, King. And you came to Miami. Three months later, you were on stage here promising not three, not four, not five championships.

ANGELO: What, six championships?

MALONE: No, seven. That's a tall order, King. And you don't make any friends when you break your promises.

ANGELO: The truth is, LeBron will go down as Cleveland's greatest sports villain. I'll never forgive LeBron James. I'll always be the biggest fan of whatever team he's playing that night. So, go Mavs.

MALONE: Jim was not kidding around. He bought a brand new Dallas Mavericks jersey for tonight. But for now, King, we are still on your side. Just win your seven titles, save our economy and, if you can, keep Frank Coto from taking to the streets with torches and pitchforks.

Conditionally yours, and for NPR News, I'm Kenny Malone in Miami.

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