Chis Broussard of ESPN shows what is likely the best-case scenario for the Cavaliers as free agency is about to start. It includes the Cavs re-signing LeBron James and signing Chris Bosh and Ray Allen.
Also see: - Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports takes a look at what if would take to do a sign and trade for Bosh. - New Jersey Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov has a detailed and daring plan to make James a billionaire. - ESPN deciding where each top free agent will land.
After the jump, Michael Wilbon, Tony Kornheiser, Bill Simmons and Dan LeBatard talk free agency during a special Pardon The Interruption.
Consider this a commercial break from the daily Brian Shaw/Byron Scott/LeBron James saga.
The Cavaliers' summer league televsion schedule in Las Vegas was released today. All of the following games will be aired on NBA TV. The ones with an asterisk will be live.
Tuesday, July 13: Cavs vs. NBA D-League, 6 p.m. ET*
Wednesday, July 14: Cavs vs. Phoenix, 8:30 p.m. ET
Friday, July 16: Cavs vs. Chicago, 8:30 p.m. ET
Saturday, July 17: Cavs vs. Miami, 6 p.m. ET*
Sunday, July 18: Cavs vs. Milwaukee, 4 p.m. ET*
We now return you to your regularly scheduled drama.
Brian Shaw will leave Cleveland today without a contract offer from the Cavaliers, according to a source close to the situation. The job has not been offered to him or anyone else, according to the source. Just because Shaw is leaving, though, doesn't mean he's not the top candidate.
That is in direct contrast to an earlier source who said Jerome Stanley, Shaw's agent, was in town working on a rough draft of a contract for Shaw to become the next coach of the Cavaliers. Yahoo! also reported that Shaw was beginning to assemble a coaching staff to bring to Cleveland.
Brian Shaw is headed to Cleveland today to interview for the Cavaliers' head coaching position, the team confirmed this afternoon. The Los Angeles Times first reported it.
Shaw, currently an assistant coach for the Lakers, is expected to have face-to-face meetings with Cavs owner Dan Gilbert and GM Chris Grant today and tomorrow.
Shaw and Byron Scott appear to be the frontrunners for the position, although neither has been offered a contract. That could come by tomorrow, according to a source with knowledge of the Cavaliers' plans.
Cavs owner Dan Gilbert and GM Chris Grant met with Byron Scott and his agent, Brian McInerney, during Fathers Day evening in Michigan, according to McInerney.
It was more of a social gathering than a formal interview and it was the second meeting between the two sides. No contract offer was made and there are no other meetings scheduled for now.
Scott is staying removed from the drama surrounding the Lakers job, according to McInerney. Both he and Lakers assistant Brian Shaw are candidates for the jobs in Los Angeles and Cleveland.
"Coach Scott needs to make the absolute correct choice regarding his next coaching assignment and is not involved in the various hypothetical situations regarding Los Angeles or Cleveland," McInerney said. "Coach Scott admires Coach Jackson and believes he will go for the immortal phrase invented by Scott "Three-Peat". Byron also believes that Brian Shaw will make a great head coach with any team fortunate to retain him. In the Laker family, every member supports other family members for a lifetime."
Everyone, it seems, is talking LeBron James these days. That includes David Letterman. The Late Show had hip hop star, and part owner of the New Jersey Nets, Jay-Z on they were talking a little LeBron.
The Jigga Man seemed a little miffed when Letterman said James shouldn't sign with the Nets but stay with the Cavs.
"He's got a better chance with the Nets than with the Knicks," Letterman said. "That's like saying he has a better chance with the Cub Scouts than the Girl Scouts."
So this doesn't have much to do with the Cavaliers, but Washington Post writer Eric Prisbell wrote a great piece on Kentucky's John Wall, LeBron's good buddy and the slam dunk choice for top overall pick tomorrow night to the Wizards.
In it, Prisbell examines the role Wall's father played in his life. Wall knew his dad went to prison before he died, but he never knew for what ... Until Prisbell told him. It's a fascinating story that sparked an ethical debate about how far journalists should go to seek the truth -- and then what to do with it after they get it.
You have to hand it to the Cavaliers. They're choosing now to renovate the team shop inside Quicken Loans Arena, obviously anticipating LeBron James' return in a Cavaliers uniform. Should James leave, there probably isn't going to be a mad rush to buy Jawad Williams jerseys. No offense, Jawad.
While the main team shop is closed, an alternative "satellite" shop is set up on the concourse inside the Time Warner Cable entrance. The satellite shop opens at 10 a.m. Monday through Saturday (it is closed on Sundays). It closes at 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 2:30 p.m. on Friday and 3 p.m. on Saturday.
The Cavaliers are changing their colors and logos again, but only slightly. The team is returning to a deeper wine and brighter gold more reminiscent of the early years of the franchise (1970-83). The logo designs will remain the same, only the colors are altered slightly. (See below).
A few reporters were still mingling on the field at InfoCision Stadium today when two women in the front row got my attention.
"Where is the event organizer?" one of them said. I sort of dismissed her and said I didn't know, since I really didn't and the event was over anyhow.
"LeBron is on his way," said the other one. I kind of chuckled, thinking it was a joke. But before long, word spread throughout the field that, yes, the king was coming.
In one of the more surreal moments I've ever seen, James walked into the stadium as fans were piling out. I was walking up the steps when I heard he arrived. Heard, as in, the squeals and cheers and crush of people surging toward him. Security pushed spectators back as James walked down onto the field and addressed the crowd.
Apparently it was a spur-of-the-moment decision for James to attend. One of those nothing on tv, already ate lunch, nothing else to do at 1:50 p.m. on a steamy Saturday, so I guess I'll go.
Regardless if he stays or leaves, James' appearance should go a long way in healing old wounds. The Cavaliers' flameout in the Eastern Conference semifinals, coupled with LeBron's eerie silence on all things Cavaliers lately leaves an ominous cloud hanging over the franchise.
For James to at least make an appearance -- albeit after the ceremony ended -- address the crowd and thank everyone was a huge step in patching what damage has been done.
You can't read into the fact James attended the rally. Had it been held in Cleveland, I'm fairly certain he wouldn't have attended. But Akron is completely different to James. This wasn't about James staying or leaving with the Cavaliers, it was simply a hometown kid saying hello to neighbors.
Chris Bosh told SNY television in New York he will consider playing in New York, but he's not going to wait on LeBron James to decide first.
"Anytime you have the opportunity to play with certain guys, you have to take that into consideration. When it all goes down, he's gonna be one of the all-time greats," Bosh said of James. "At the same time, I can't just sit around and wait. I have to be proactive with my choices and what's gonna make me happy. I have to make sure I take my time and make the right decision."
The Knicks don't necessarily need two stars this summer, although they'd gladly take them. Team president Donnie Walsh has said he'd be willing to be patient and spend some of the team's cap money next summer, when Carmelo Anthony can become a free agent. For more on the Knicks' courtship of LeBron and other stars, see Sunday's Beacon Journal.
Highlights of Michigan State coach Tom Izzo's press conference, which was televised by the Big Ten Network:
The first day I was talked about on this job I heard somebody on one of the local radio stations say, 'Why would he leave now, he's just got what he's always wanted. A football coach and his AD all on the same page, all together, all pointing in the same direction.' Little did I know 9 days later that that would be one of many things that played a big part in my decision.
Two great friends spent a lot of nights with me talking about things and I started feeling like I wanted to be a Coach K or a Jim Boeheim or a Bo Schembechler or Paterno and Bowden and Smith and now Osborne, who's in our league, guys who kind of stood the test of time, who were tempted by different things but decided their heart was where it is.
It was a once-in-a-lifetime decision for me and it was at a point in time in my life that I looked at it and said, 'How many more offers do you get, how many more opportunities do you get?' I know a lot of people would say 'Why would you want to leave?"' I didn't. I didn't want to leave. President Simon and (AD) Mark Hollis said it best, when you have a decision like that, I talked to my wife, I was going to talk to my daughter but she was in finals, I thought that was a bad idea. I'll admit if you want to be mad at somebody, (son) Steven thought playing one-on-one with LeBron James would be a good time every day, so be mad at him.
But for me, I decided this decision would put me here for life or not. If I left, I'd leave. If not, I'm not going through all of this any more. As some of your own (media) people said, 'The Wild, Wild West,' it was way wackier than 'The Wild, Wild West.' So I knew at the beginning that whatever decision I made it was a decision for life, for me and Lupe and Steven and (daughter) Raquel.
What helped me, amazing couple of things helped me. I said all along, 'What's the best part of the job? What keeps you here?" I always said, 'The guys who come back.' The number of former players who called me immediately when it broke that there was an opportunity was unbelievable. From NBA coaches to partial owners in the NBA who are Michigan State guys, to every player that I think ever played in the NBA from Michigan State called and gave me their input. Their input was always, 'Coach, you've got to take a look. You can't feel guilty.'
When I got on the plane last Thursday, I was driving there and Magic (Johnson) called. I talked to Steve Smith and Scott Skiles a lot that morning and Magic called and said, 'Tom, you sound like you feel guilty.' 'I said, 'Well, it's been a little different around here.' I know what players go through. I've watched some players turn down opportunities to leave early. I said, 'I do feel a little guilty.' He said, 'Let me tell you what you should do, Tom. You should go get Miss Lupe and Steven and Raquel and you should put a smile from ear to ear, jump in the car and drive to the airport and jump on a plane and go earn something that it took you 27 years to accomplish the opportunity to have.' It was all that work by these guys. You don't really think it was all me. The two Final Fours the last few years, you don't hear my name on any of those jobs, it was the Billy Donovans and Jay Wrights and everybody's new up-and-coming. They did for me what I tell them we can do for them, 'Winning makes people excited about you.'
The fact that these players helped us win a lot of games, get to Final Fours, gave me an opportunity. There's financial things, there's the dream of coaching in the NBA if there is a dream. The opportunity to coach one of the greatest players who will ever play the game, and yet ironically I'm at a school that already has the greatest player who ever played the game in Magic. So I felt honored, I went down there.
I must say this about Dan Gilbert, one of the classiest guys I've ever met, and everybody has a different opinion of people. The problem is when they're in your home state, you've always got different opinions in your home state. The first night I talked to him, he was more concerned about what the people of Michigan State would say because he's an alum. I met Dan Gilbert twice before this but we weren't friends, I'd never talked to him longer than 25 seconds. But he's kind of what I believe in, he's the blue-collar guy who started out a little bit dirt poor and built his own company. He did it the Michigan State way. He worked very hard. He was going through a difficult time, losing his general manager and potentially his star player. But the class he showed me and what he did makes me proud, not because of him as the man, but because of him as the Michigan State Spartan.
I appreciated all the support I got from the community and it was embarrassing. but it was greatly appreciated. I appreciated all the emails and the letters. I said all along I want to try to build the best program in America. The best program in America is built in many different aspects -- having the greatest academic reputation, having the greatest facilities, having the greatest teams with consistency, social life, role models, community service people, players that do a lot of different things to have an impact. If there's one thing most of my guys told me, it was, 'Are you sure you can have the same impact.' You know what I figured out? I could. Everybody's about winning, everybody's about being successful. A lot of people need direction on how to get there. A lot of people need someone to push them to get there. Not everybody's self-motivated. Dan Gilbert saw in me something that he believed was right for that same goal and mission.
Only my wife and I can appreciate what we went through during those nine days. But I learned a lesson from Jud Heathcoat that I use every day. Everybody's got a boss, everybody's got someone to answer to. I think there's still opportunities that everybody deserves to look at. In the 15 years I've been at Michigan State, I seriously looked at two opportunities. I hope that our fans will understand that I didn't do it as some said for publicity. If I held it against somebody who looked at other opportunities, I'm mad at every one of these (players) because they put me through the ringer in recruiting. The good thing is when you've got people strong enough to give you that opportunity, when you make a decision, you feel better about it. I am going to be a lifer and damn proud of it. The only thing left for me, we've built a pretty good basketball program. Mark Dantonio has been very important to me and he's building a very good football program. I'm a program guy. I've tried to live my whole life that I care about other people as much as I do myself and I care about helping people. Now my goal is to make this the best athletic department in the country and thank God I've got some good friends who are going to help me do that.
Q: During your decision-making process were you able to talk to LeBron?
A: No, I did not talk to LeBron. I talked to enough people in his camp that I felt very comfortable with ... he, too, has a very tough decision. I felt comfortable with some of the things I needed to know. I can appreciate what he's got to go through, too. I guess I hope in my own way that this is a stay-at-home month. I'm staying at home, I kind of hope he stays at home. And maybe everybody wins. I did not speak to him directly. A lot indirectly.
Q: Was there any point in the past 9 days that you said, 'Maybe I should take a chance on the NBA.' Were you leaning towards taking the job?
A: There were so many unfactual rumors. I did what my media asked me to do, I kept my mouth shut and I looked at it. There were days when it looked like a great opportunity. There were days when I didn't think I could leave these guys. I've got a championship I think we can win. Did I ever get to the point where I said I was going? No, I did not. I never got to that point.
Q: Was there an ah-hah moment that clinched the decision?
A: Some of the ah-hah moments were some of the pro guys who called back and gave me input on what they thought. Maybe my last ah-hah moment when Lupe and I were talking about it. When I asked my daughter how she'd feel and she said, 'Gosh, Dad, I don't want to leave. What about all our boys?' I said, 'Raquel, you're as good at making friends as anybody. You have incredible people skills. You relate to everybody.' She said, 'I know, Dad, but if you went there, they'd be my friend because of who you are. Here they're my friend because of the people we've built.'
Q: If you had won a national championship the last couple years, would this decision been different?
A: Maybe a couple years ago winning one more would have been enough. That damn Krzyzewski guy just keeps winning enough and because of that, it keeps motivating me to get to more. I like some of the things we've accomplished. But as I tell my players, you're judged on the last guy standing. It's nice to go to Final Fours, that's not how you're remembered. I still have some serious dreams of what I'd like to accomplish. If I'd have accomplished one more last year, maybe I'd have been closer. My goal has always been to put Michigan State University in an elite spot. And I think three national championships puts it in a top 10 list. That's getting pretty elite. It might have mattered some, I can't answer that because it didn't happen. But it won't matter from here on because I've got enough to try to chase him because he's going to keep going and he's going to keep winning. It's a pretty classy guy to chase. I don't mind that chase.
Q: When did you make this decision?
A: We (he and his wife) talked two mornings ago, we laid there and discussed it. I know this went on for nine days. But I've got a family and I've got a daughter and she's in finals Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday of last week. I told them immediately, 'I'm not talking to my family until that's over.' Her freshman year of high school, I thought that was very important. So really I had no real contract offer, what I said was true on that. I had some parameters. But until you go down there and see the facility and feel like you're part of it and get your family involved and look at it. We got back late Thursday night. We had Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. By Friday I knew I was in trouble when I came to work. By Monday I knew there was a lot of things clouding the issue and people saying things about our recruits and people calling our recruits.
Q: When you retire, will you regret not chasing your NBA dream?
A: If I didn't look, I'd always wonder. The first time I looked, I was a rookie. I didn't know anything about the NBA. This time I looked a little more diligently, I looked to see things I really didn't know. I don't walk around with an agent telling me everything, I had to do my investigative work and try to figure out some things that was a little more difficult. Someone from Cleveland said, 'This is kind of a situation that's unprecedented. How many times is there a brand new GM, new coach and one of the top players in the world is in free agency?' That doesn't happen very often so there were a lot of different questions. I think the opportunity they offered me, I could have gone to the NBA. That's not the same as going, but thank God I work for some people who gave me the opportunity to look. When I looked, I decided what my dad said to me when I was 5 or 6 years old, 'The grass isn't always greener on the other side.' The grass is pretty green here, and that's not meant in a pun way. We've got a good team, we've got a chance to do some incredible things and we've had a heckuva recruiting class. The next one is going to get even better because some of you motivated me. I don't think I'll ever said I didn't try the NBA. I think it would have been a shame to say, 'I never got a chance to look at it. '
Q: Why did you look at this one?
A: Dan Gilbert was a big reason. The first time I talked to him, he motivated me, he excited me. I thought he had the same goals and passion. He didn't just talk it, he walked it. I felt something there, I really did. I had talked to some of those people when they drafted Shannon Brown, I'd been down to their facility. It was a unique situation. It was still in the Midwest, that was important to Lupe and I, especially with our families and her family here. I think it was a legitimate chance to win an NBA championship. And there were other things that made it intriguing.
Q: Could you have made this move without assurance if LeBron would be there?
A: That was one of the key factors, 100 percent true. I had to do a little capology. I didn't understand all that. I'm trying to learn about 'em. If LeBron James would have stayed, that doesn't mean I would have been there. If I understood the cap, there were a lot of other players they could have got in there. That was not the only factor. Was it a big factor? Sure it was, he's one of the greatest players in the world. It took a little time to understand that.
You looked at it as 9 days, I looked at it as 3 or 4. It's not like it was a coin flip. Michigan State is where I want to be. I wanted to look at the process. I apologize to the Michigan State fans I must have offended. They got their money's worth and they're going to get their money's worth. I promise you I'll make it up to them.
The number one reason I'm back here is the players who left come back. When I needed those guys, I didn't call one guy first, they all called me. When Jason Richardson called one night, when Zach Randolph called it hit home. Mateen (Cleaves) and Mo Pete (Morris Peterson) they're almost part of our family. That still is the most exciting thing about this place.
(part of his summation) This week I was afforded the opportunity to maybe coach LeBron James. You know what, if somebody thinks I can do that, there's a lot of recruits out there who may be the next LeBron James and I'm going to be looking for 'em. I'm going to coach them in the NCAA and I'm going to try to do the best job I can to help make them have the opportunity to live their dream like I've had the opportunity to here.
Tom Izzo will stay at Michigan State. The school has called an 8:30 p.m. press conference for this evening to announce his decision.
The Cavaliers' coaching search trudges on after Izzo passed on the chance to earn about $30 million over the next five years -- nearly double what he is making as coach of the Spartans. Izzo tried for days to reach LeBron James to gauge James' intentions of re-signing with the Cavaliers this summer. When he failed to get a call back, it made his choice a little easier.
"Just as I decided to stay home, I hope a 6-8, 270-pound forward in Cleveland decides to stay home," Izzo said in a release, referring to James.
Gilbert had hoped to have a coach in place before free agency began on July 1, but that doesn't seem likely now. Most of the top available candidates with NBA experience will want to know, as Izzo did, James' intentions before accepting the job.
Izzo spent more than eight hours in Cleveland last Thursday to tour the team's facilities, then returned to his Michigan home to mull the decision. Izzo was close to making the leap on Sunday and Monday, according to a source close to the coach, who spoke on condition of anonymity, but his views on the organization changed in the last 24 hours when no one could reach James.
Izzo called the opportunity he just passed on "once-in-a-lifetime."
"There was a lot of information to gather and consider," he said, "and some of it wasn't easily obtainable."
James is adamant he won't be drawn into any coaching searches or discussions with the Cavaliers, making the jobs of Gilbert and General Manager Chris Grant that much more difficult.
Byron Scott, who interviewed with the Cavs by phone last week, would seem to be the most appealing candidate, but a source close to him said he is enjoying his time away from the court and prefers to see what happens in Los Angeles with Phil Jackson and the Lakers. Avery Johnson and Tom Thibodeau, two other top candidates when the process started, have already been snapped up by other teams.
Tom Izzo has yet to reach LeBron James, which is why he has yet to make a decision on his coaching future, according to a source close to the Michigan State coach.
Izzo has tried reaching out to James and would like to hear from the Cavs' superstar before he decides whether or not to become the next coach of the franchise.
"LeBron has to give some indication to Tom that he really likes the Cavs," the source said. "He doesn't expect LeBron to say, 'I'm coming back' but LeBron has to give some indication that the Cavs will win all ties or that he doesn't have any idea what he's going to do. But he needs to hear something."
Izzo started a basketball camp today that runs through Thursday. He is more active at his camps than most coaches at his level, which means a decision may not come until the end of the week.
"He's got 500 kids who paid a lot of money to sit there and get instruction from him," the source said. "I don't see Tom walking out on them in the middle of the week."
Now Tom Izzo is getting assaulted with questions about his future from kids. According to this Detroit News story, one camper asked Izzo at his basketball camp this morning if he was going to take the Cavaliers job.
"Bad question," Izzo said, according to the News.
Izzo did not talk to reporters as he entered the facility this morning and said nothing about the Cavs' job in his address to campers. The camp runs all week, FYI.
No news conferences have been scheduled, and the Detroit Free Press reports a press conference today doesn't seem likely simply because of the logistics of the basketball camp, which runs from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. every day through Thursday.
Will something break loose today with Tom Izzo? Depends on who you talk to. Stay tuned.
Meanwhile, Yahoo!'s Adrian Wojnarowski, who has been one LeBron James' sharpest critics over the last month, says Izzo is still trying to determine the relationship between James and the Cavs.
So what happens if Izzo says no? Where do the Cavs go from there?
Byron Scott is a longshot, but it's a near lock he won't decide until James signs and the Lakers' coaching situation is resolved.
The Mike Woodson rumors don't make any sense, unless it's as an assistant. Boston's Ray Allen said during the series against the Cavs that the Hawks looked like they just quit against Orlando in the first round of the playoffs after winning 53 games during the regular season. Is that really the chip Dan Gilbert thinks will convince LeBron James to stay? Hardly.
Browns defensive end Robaire Smith is confident Michigan State coach Tom Izzo can make the transition to the NBA if he accepts an offer to become coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
An MSU product, Smith said he has known Izzo since his freshman year in East Lansing in 1996. Smith's brother Antonio started at forward for Izzo in 1998-99, when the Spartans reached their first Final Four in 20 years.
That started a run of six Final Four appearances in 12 seasons for Izzo, now being courted by Cavs owner Dan Gilbert to make the jump to the pros.
Asked Friday if he can see Izzo's style working in the NBA, Smith said, ''Without a doubt.''
''Izzo first of all is a good guy, he's a people person,'' Smith said after the Browns' finished a mandatory minicamp practice. ''He doesn't have a big ego, he doesn't mind listening to his players. He's never minded that from the time I've known him, since back in '96-97. But at the same time he knows how to put his foot down and have things done his way.
''I don't feel like it would be hard for him at all. It's all about where he's at in his career, what he wants do to. I'm pretty sure there's a lot of coaches at the college level who could come in here and be like a mastermind and teach the game.''
But Smith knows Izzo faces a tough decision.
''They've probably got a big thing: Why would you want to leave when your team is going to be at the worst right back in the Final Four?'' he said of Izzo and his family.
Smith said he can't text Izzo to let him know how he feels and didn't divulge what his advice to the coach would be.
Asked if he's praying Izzo stays in East Lansing, Smith said, ''I'm praying. It depends on the opportunity. If it's going to be a good situation for him and his family, all my blessings go to him.''
But as he walked away, Smith seemed to hint that he'd like to see a matchup of Izzo and Cavs' free agent superstar LeBron James.
''King is, King is, King Is,'' Smith chanted.
Since Smith had referred to Izzo as ''Iz'' earlier in the conversation, it's possible he meant ''King Iz.''
When you've been covering the Cavaliers less than a month, sometimes you have to go to the extreme to keep up with tremendous competitors who have been doing it much, much longer.
So it was Thursday, when my day started with a round of calls early in the morning to see if Tom Izzo really was coming to Cleveland. Around noon, after a quick blog post with what I knew, I drove out to the Cavs' facility in Independence to stake it out and wait for a limo, a car full of people... something. But since I was sitting across a busy street from the facility, in a parking space I created, it was difficult to see who was coming and going.
Through a few old connections, I figured out the tail number of Dan Gilbert's private charter from Michigan to Cleveland.
"Ah-ha!" I thought. "Got 'em now."
After about three hours of watching two guys mulch the landscaping at Cleveland Clinic Courts, I left for Burke searching for the plane with tail No. N941CE.
I asked a gentleman if a plane was leaving in 30 minutes, where would it be?
"Not here," he said.
"Go down to the next hangar," he said.
OK. I did. I drove along Marginal Rd. to the next hangar. Apparently a security gate that was supposed to be closed (I would find this out later) was still open from the last car to go through. So I drove in and parked and wandered up to the "visitors gate" near the runway. The sign said to ring the bell for assistance, and boy, did I need assistance.
A woman came over the speaker and asked if she could help me.
"I hope so," I said. "I'm looking for a plane leaving in about 20 minutes."
"OK," she said. "Come on back and we'll help you find it."
As I'm wandering back, I'm frantically searching for a plane with tail No. N941CE. I was just about to ask a guy wandering on the runway if he's seen it, sort of like you'd ask a stranger if he has spotted your white German Shepherd with black spots. Just as I said, "Excuse me," I spotted it.
There. In the back. With the door open and waiting for me to climb on.
Don't worry. I didn't.
It was 4:36 and the plane was scheduled to depart at 4:40. I was in position. The Beacon didn't have any photographers available to meet me, so I called my sister-in-law and begged her to meet me at Burke with a camera. Luckily, she was in town staying with us because my wife just gave birth to our second son on Friday. She dropped everything and came racing out.
I couldn't understand what she meant when she said the security gate was closed (remember, it was open when I drove through. I didn't even know it existed). But she followed another car through and eventually made it back to me.
So it's 4:36 p.m. and I'm in position. My boss texts me looking for a status report.
"Standing next to the plane," I said in all my triumphant glory.
We hid out inside a small room next to the tarmac. A little after 5, a passenger van pulls up next to the plane. Here it is, our big moment. What I've waited all day to see.
Tom Izzo is going to step out of the van, I'm going to ask him if he has accepted a deal to be the new Cavs' coach, he's going to say "Who are you?" and decline comment and I'm going to go home.
Only he didn't get out of the van. Dan Gilbert did.
Curses! Foiled again!
Turns out those sneaky Cavs are sneakier than me. They had two planes. The ol' bait and switch. I was tracking the wrong plane.
Dejected, defeated and feeling defoolish, I sat in rush hour traffic heading up E. 9th St. to go home when I got a phone call from an old colleague in Michigan.
"They're holding a pep rally here at 9 p.m.," he said. "If you leave now, you can make it."
There was a shot I was going to get time with Izzo. I couldn't pass it up.
I looked at the clock. It was about 5:40 and I was in bumper to bumper traffic. It's about three hours to East Lansing. Suddenly I was looking for another plane with a tail number on it.
I headed west on I-90, passing the exit for home. I called my wife, who had just given birth a week ago, and told her I wouldn't be home for dinner.
"I'm going to East Lansing," I said. "I'll be home around 3 a.m."
Tears, instantly. I was hoping my clothes weren't going to be thrown all over the front yard when I got home.
My editor, Ron Ledgard, told me I had to have the story filed by 10 p.m. It was about 6:30 and I hadn't written one word yet. The rally didn't start til 9. That would leave me an hour to observe the rally, talk to people, find an Internet connection, type and file a story.
"No problem," I gulped. "It'll be there."
By 8:40, I was about 15 miles outside campus. Smoke was pouring off the tires and I heard my car pleading "Why are you doing this to me?!"
I finished up dictating part of the story to Beacon columnist Marla Ridenour. The bottom half of the story would be everything that unfolded in Cleveland. The top half would be the rally.
By 9:30, I had everything I needed, except Izzo. He wasn't at the rally. Turns out, he was STILL in Cleveland. I called Marla back, finished up the story, and went with my Michigan buddy to a spot around the corner to grab a salad and watch some of the NBA Finals.
Then we learn that Izzo's plane is to land in Lansing in 17 minutes.
"How far is it to the airport?" I asked.
"About 15 minutes," he said.
I was driving on roads I'd never seen before, chasing the tail lights on my buddy's car. We made it to the airport just as Izzo's plane was touching down.
I had chased this man since early in the morning. I had chased him from Independence to Burke to campus on East Lansing to, finally, Lansing Capital Region International Airport.
He walked into the concourse, exhausted, with his entire family.
"Oh guys," he said after seeing the small gathering of about 10-12 media members. "I'm sorry you came all the way out here. You know I can't say anything. I wish I could."
This is the dance we play. All day, I was chasing a man I knew wouldn't talk to me. But you still have to go. You still have to show up. You still have to try.
"It won't go on forever," he said. "I'm glad I did what I had to do."
That's exactly how I feel.
I call the desk and rewrite the lead to the story. Izzo was back in Michigan. He's exhausted. So is his family. The Cavaliers still don't have a head coach.
I followed my buddy back to I-96, which would eventually lead me home. I called my wife and told her I'd be home around 3.
At 3:15, I pulled into my driveway. Luckily, the key still worked and all my clothes were in the closet. I fell into bed, mentally preparing to get up and do it all again today.
Tom Izzo's Corporate Eagle charter jet from Pontiac, Mich., tail No. N941CE, arrived at 2:02 p.m. at Burke and is set to leave at 4:40 p.m.
A source close to Izzo said that nothing is imminent and that he doesn't expect a decision today. It is just a quick visit to see the facilities.
Update at 5:02 p.m.: Cavs owner Dan Gilbert got on the plane to return to Michigan but Tom Izzo was not with him.
Tom Izzo isn't answering his cell phone today and has closed himself off to the outside, according to sources close to the Michigan State coach amidst reports he is headed to Cleveland today.
Sources don't believe Izzo will accept the job today even if he does tour the facility and meet with owner Dan Gilbert.
"He would have to be blown away and overwhelmed by everything. And who knows? Maybe he will be," one source said.
When Izzo met with the Atlanta Hawks 10 years ago, he returned to his home in Michigan to mull the decision. At least one source expects Izzo to handle the Cavaliers' decision the same way.
Izzo wants to know how the Cavaliers intend to pursue LeBron James and what Plan B is should he leave, according to a source, although Izzo strongly believes Gilbert will still do his best to field a competitive team even if James departs.
"He doesn't know any of the players on the team, other than maybe Antawn Jamison," one source said. Jamison was part of the North Carolina team that eliminated Michigan State in the 1998 NCAA Tournament.
"He knows LeBron through Nike," the source said. "But he needs to get to know the rest of the guys before he makes a decision."
Gilbert is believed to be pressuring Izzo for a decision sooner rather than later, which is perhaps why Byron Scott's name is now being mentioned in connection to the Cavaliers' job. Gilbert could be using Scott to leverage Izzo for an answer.
Gilbert is doing his best to land a marquee coach before July 1 for two reasons, according to sources: To provide James with another reason to re-sign, and also to have a respected coach in place even if James decides to leave.
Scott is enjoying his time away from the court as an ESPN analyst, according to a source close to the former coach. He is taking care of his elderly parents, who are ill, and spending time with adult children.
Scott is still very interested in the Lakers' job and wants to know Phil Jackson's future. If Jackson leaves, Scott would like to be considered in Los Angeles. Even if Jackson remains, Scott believes it will only be for another year, and is willing to wait it out in order to have a shot at the job. Scott is also interested to see how a potential lockout after next season would affect the league, according to a source.
If winning is most important to LeBron James, why not join the team that never loses?
As if this pending free agency period wasn't enough of a circus, the Harlem Globetrotters just became the bearded lady. The Globetrotters are making a half-serious marketing push to land both LeBron and Dwyane Wade. They've gone so far as to produce No. 3 "D-Wade" jerseys and No. 6 "King" jerseys, which can be purchased for $75.
David Stern's reach is fairly long, but I don' t think he can fine the Globetrotters $100,000 for tampering.
The Cavs insist they have a plan regarding LeBron James. They just aren't sharing it. Cavs owner Dan Gilbert and GM Chris Grant on Tuesday refused to say what they have discussed with James -- or if they have had any discussions at all.
As speculation swirled that James' interest is growing in the Los Angeles Clippers, Grant refused to say what has transpired between James and his current team.
"We have a plan and a process in place that we are going to follow from now through free agency," Grant said. "We're not going to get into specifics about what the plan is, what we're going to do, what the conversations are. We'll keep those between us and LeBron."
The speculation of James to the Clippers is intriguing, if only because James would go head to head with Kobe Bryant for L.A. bragging rights. But none of it will happen without current owner Donald Sterling selling majority ownership, and he has never expressed an interest in doing that. Rule that out unless Sterling changes his mind.
Grant and Gilbert were again asked about the Cavaliers' collapse in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against Boston, and they still don't have a very good answer.
"There's probably a multitude of reasons," Gilbert said, before adding it's the Cavs' job to "just make sure whatever they are, it never happens again."
New GM Chris Grant confirmed the team has reached out to Michigan State coach Tom Izzo, but wouldn't confirm whether or not an offer has been made.
"We have had conversations with his camp," Grant said. "We've talked to a number of candidates. Until we get to a final conclusion, there's nothing we can get into."
In his most powerful statement yet regarding LeBron James' free agency, Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert was adamant today that James is not running the franchise.
"The concept that LeBron James has been involved in any way shape or form of firing the coach, will be involved in future coaching decisions and hires is totally 100 percent patently false. It’s unfair to him and the franchise."
How serious are the Cavs about Tom Izzo? Will Mo Williams and/or Delonte West be traded? New Cavs GM Chris Grant and owner Dan Gilbert will be available at 2:30 p.m. today (but don't expect them to answer any of those questions).
Check back here throughout the day for updates as the Cavaliers introduce their new GM to the media for the first time.
Tom Izzo was a guest on a Lansing, Mich. radio show today and wouldn't talk specifically about the Cavaliers job, but did address his coaching future. You can listen to the entire interview here.
"I would just say that there are so many things out there that are so far-fetched right now. And I’m the Michigan State coach and that’s what I’m gonna do … who knows what the future brings, but it sure isn’t at all like it’s maybe being speculated.”
Izzo, 55, reiterated that it's important to him to win another national championship before he moves on. The Spartans will likely begin next season ranked in the top three in the nation and the senior class has a chance to leave as the winningest class in school history.
"I’ve said all along Michigan State has been really good to me and I’d like nothing more than to win another national championship here and put us in that elite of elite stature," he said. "I still have that as a very important part of my future."
Read my entire story on Izzo here.
Despite a report in the Lake County News-Herald, Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis told the Associated Press on Monday that the Cavaliers have not offered Tom Izzo a contract, but that the team is interested in him.
So is everyone else. The question is whether or not Dan Gilbert has enough cash to lure Izzo, who is making about $3 million a season.
Gilbert has proven he's not shy about throwing money around. If he doubles -- or triples -- Izzo's currently salary, at what point does the money become too much to refuse?
In somewhat-related LeBron news, Carmelo Anthony believes after the dust settles, James may stay in Cleveland after all.
Readers react: Are the Cleveland Cavaliers a better franchise without Danny Ferry as general manager?
President Barack Obama is a guest on Larry King Live tonight. According to a transcript released by CNN, the president clarified his earlier remarks and said it would be a wonderful story if James remains in Cleveland. The entire exchange, courtesy of CNN, is posted below.
KING: One other thing. LeBron James is with us tomorrow night. We pre-interviewed him and he says, all things being equal, he'll probably lean toward Cleveland. That's where the grew up in Akron. But he grew up a Bull fan. You want him to go to Chicago, right?
OBAMA: No, no, no. I --
KING: What did you say?
OBAMA: I want to be clear. What I said to --
KING: Clear it up.
OBAMA: First of all, LeBron, I had a chance to meet him. Wonderful young man, amazing talent. What I said to him was, I didn't say it to him, I said it to Marv Albert. He needs to be in a place where he's got a coach and a team around him that can do what Phil Jackson and the Bulls did for Michael Jordan. Michael Jordan couldn't win a championship on his own. It's all about having a team concept that works. He hasn't quite gotten that yet and he needs to find that situation.
I'll be honest with you, and my folks in Chicago may be mad at me for saying this, but I think it'd be a wonderful story if LeBron says, you know what, I'm going to stay here in Cleveland. He's from Ohio. That's a town that has had some tough times. For him to say, I'm going to make a commitment to this city, you know, I think would be a wonderful thing.
But he's got to make sure that he's got a team around him and a coach that he respects, he's bought into a team concept, he's willing to be coached. If he does that, he'll have an even more remarkable career than he's having right now.
Iron Chef Michael Symon wrote an open letter to LeBron James via Facebook pleading with James to stay in Cleveland. His big bribe? An Iron Chef style meal prepared by Symon, another Northeast Ohio native, once a month for James and all his friends.To read more or comment...
CNN has released the entire transcript of Friday's interview with LeBron James on Larry King Live. (Or in this case, Larry King Taped).
Among the highlights: James talks about growing up in Akron, calls the Celtics "the better team" and says he was sad Mike Brown was fired.
"I mean he was a great coach, five -- five great years we had together and we turned a franchise that hadn't seen a lot of things in a lot of years. We won, you know, the Eastern Conference championship. We won, you know, the regular season wins two years in a row. We did a -- I mean a lot of great things. But ultimately, we both, myself and Mike Brown, didn't accomplish what we wanted to, and that was the NBA championship. And I think we wanted it more than anybody else. So it's unfortunate. I wish him the best and I think he's going to have a great coaching career."
In that ballyhooed Larry King interview that will air Friday on CNN, LeBron James told King that the Cavs have an advantage in signing him:
CLEVELAND -- LeBron James told CNN's Larry King that the Cleveland Cavaliers "have an edge" when it comes to signing him when the free agency period begins on July 1.
James answered "absolutely" when asked by King if Cleveland has an edge to re-sign him due to his familiarity with the team. The interview was taped Tuesday and will air Friday on CNN's "Larry King Live," capping the program's 25th anniversary celebration on the network.
"Absolutely. Because, you know, this city, these fans, I mean, have given me a lot in these seven years. And, you know, for me, it's comfortable. So I've got a lot of memories here. And -- and so it does have an edge," James told King.
Now the New York media is trying to pair Phil Jackson with LeBron James in New York. After a Daily News report last week that Jackson could be enough to lure LeBron, now the Post is reporting Jeanie Buss won't stand in the way if Jackson wants to leave L.A. Buss is the daughter of Lakers owner Jerry Buss and Jackson's longtime girlfriend.
In a Crain's Chicago Business report, a local economist projects James could be worth $2.7 billion to the city over six years. James has been here seven years, and although his impact has been incredible, I highly doubt it was brought $2.7 billion to Cleveland.