That strong gust of wind ruffling the trees outside your window right now is the collective exhale of relief coming from Cleveland right now, as one of the more intriguing stories of the summer has ended. LeBron James has re-signed with the Cavaliers, accepting their max five year, $80M extension which kicks in at the start of the '07-'08 season. Thank god James decided to put the kebosh on the mystery early, because I didn't think I was prepared to deal with another two-three months of "What's LeBron's future?!" segments on Sportscenter, Around the Horn, and PTI.
James re-upped with the Cavs despite rumors that more than one of his endorsement deals automatically double if he plays for a team in a major market (New York, Los Angeles, Chicago). But James eschewed the increased attention of a bigger market (because, really, how much more attention could he get?) for the opportunity to win a championship in Cleveland, ensuring a strong legacy and free drinks in C-Town for life. James became the third player from his draft class to accept the max extension this offseason, joining Carmelo and Dwyane Wade. I know seeing the Heat win the title is just eating James up from the inside, because Wade has officially passed him (at least temporarily) as the shining star of that class, and James knows that bringing the Cavaliers from povertous to decadent in NBA terms would be all he needed to claim his spot amongst the all-time greats. He'll have at least six years to get it done and then, at the old age of 26, he might be a free agent again. But for now, we can sleep safe knowing James won't be occupying every second of television time because, after all, it's almost football season and I'm not sure there's enough room on cable for James and T.O. to split.