TIME NBA

A Heat Fan Who’s Happy for LeBron

Atlanta Hawks v Miami Heat
LeBron James of the Miami Heat looks on during a game against the Atlanta Hawks at American Airlines Arena on November 19, 2013 in Miami, Florida. Mike Ehrmann—Getty Images

It's a bummer, but Miami will be fine

LeBron James took a lot of ludicrous abuse in 2010 for accepting a better job with better co-workers and a better boss in a better city. He was a free agent. He had every right to take his talents to South Beach. I’m an obnoxious Miami Heat fan, so I’m sad he’s returning to Cleveland—sadder than I ever imagined I’d be—but I’m not going to dump on him in Comic Sans. He’s got every right to take his talents home.

I’ve always thought the widespread over-the-top LeBron hatred reflected something more insidious than natural disappointment about his lame ESPN special announcing his departure from Cleveland. He had fulfilled his contract. Thanks to a salary cap designed to save NBA owners from themselves, he had been vastly underpaid. And Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert had been too cheap and too arrogant to surround him with winning talent. After he left, Gilbert’s infamous open letter—just removed from the Cavs website last week!—revealed some incredibly ugly sentiments. He clearly saw LeBron as the help.

This situation is different in many ways. The Heat organization did right by LeBron. It surrounded him with good players—not quite as good as I thought, at least this year–who played the right way and helped him lift his game.

And owner Micky Arison has been predictably classy about his departure from Miami. That said, LeBron did right by the Heat, too. He fulfilled his contract and then some, leading the team to four straight Finals and two championships. And I can’t emphasize enough how much fun it’s been to watch him play every night. He’s just unbelievably unselfish on the court. He always seems to make the right play. He guards speedy point guards and giant centers and everyone in between. Even after four MVP’s, he’s still underpaid and underrated; I assume he always will be.

But the dude wants to go home. He thinks he can win more titles with Kyrie Irving—I’m trying to be gracious, but how overrated is that guy?—and (probably) Kevin Love than Chris Bosh and whatever’s left of Dwyane Wade’s knees. He’s willing to go work for an owner who trashed him as a heartless coward after raking in millions of dollars off his labor. Well, he’s given me a lot of enjoyment over the last four years, and I’m not going to start questioning his choices now.

Anyway, this isn’t going to be like 2010. We always knew that LeBron was an Ohio guy. This is a bummer, but the people of Miami will be fine.

I mean, it’s not like we have to live in Cleveland.

TIME World Cup

The World Cup’s Moments of Strange Symmetry

In the game of two halves, sometimes history does seem to repeat itself

As an event that brings in people and cultures from all over the planet, a major part of the spectacle of the World Cup is its celebration of diversity, which makes the odd moment of symmetry all the more striking.

From full body suited fans to goofy goal celebrations, here are some oddly mesmerizing moments of similarity at the World Cup.

TIME World Cup

Argentina vs. Germany Referee Controversy Echoes, 24 Years Later

1990 World Cup Germany Argentina
West German forward Rudi Voeller heads the ball over Argentinian defender Oscar Ruggeri as forward Juergen Klinsmann looks on during the 1990 World Cup final between West Germany and Argentina July 8, 1990 in Rome. GEORGES GOBET—AFP/Getty Images

The two teams last faced off during the 1990 World Cup in Italy

sportsillustrated

By Ben Lyttleton

The outstanding image from the last time Germany and Argentina met in the World Cup final, back in Italy in 1990, was not Andreas Brehme striking home the winning penalty in the 85th minute, securing the 1-0 win for the European side, nor was it coach Franz Beckenbauer celebrating with the trophy.

WATCH: All Eyes On Rio: World Cup focus shifts to the Maracana

It was actually current U.S. national team manager Jurgen Klinsmann, tackled late by Pedro Monzon after a one-two combination with Lothar Matthaus, rolling three times and then raising up on one shoulder to continue his pained reaction. The challenge was in keeping with the rest of the game, and Monzon, a halftime substitute, was shown a straight red card for the tackle by referee Edgardo Codesal.

Worse was to come for Argentina: five minutes from time, Codesal awarded West Germany a penalty after Matthaus played through Rudi Voller, who, tightly marked by Roberto Sensini, fell to the ground in the area.

Previously in the match, Codesal had rejected Gabriel Calderon’s claims after a similar clash with Klaus Augenthaler.

Two minutes later, Codesal sent off another Argentine, Gustavo Dezotti, for grabbing Jurgen Kohler around the neck and wrestling him to the ground in an effort to get the ball off him for a throw-in. Codesal ran over and theatrically brandished his second red of the game, reducing Argentina to nine men.

“The referee has been physically manhandled by five players and if Argentina continue like this, FIFA will have to ban them from the next World Cup!” said BBC commentator John Motson. “Surely you can’t have this in the final!”

Brazil’s Nightmare Gets Worse: Argentina to Play for World Cup Title

This was Codesal’s last game as a referee. When he returned to Mexico after the game [he was Mexican-Uruguayan, and his grandfather was born in Argentina], he was confronted with hordes of journalists.

“I was brave and honest, like I always am,” he said. “The foul was Argentina’s fault, not mine. I’m calm and happy.”

At that World Cup, Codesal had taken charge of Italy’s 1-0 win over USA, awarding a penalty missed by Gianluca Viali, and blew for two penalties as England beat Cameroon 3-2 in the quarterfinal. FIFA observers gave him an average rating of 8.5 for his performances.

Codesal’s father, Jose Maria, was a referee who officiated at the 1966 World Cup. The one piece of advice he gave his son: “Don’t ever give a penalty if you think you will have to explain it a thousand times.” Nine years on, he remained convinced that his decision had been the correct one.

“I have no doubt,” he told Ole. “The referees don’t have to look for intent, they have to look for contact. This is what I saw: the Argentine tried to get to the ball first but he stretched his leg and tackled the German. It was a penalty. I was convinced at the time and I have not changed my mind since. For me, it’s a closed case.”

Netherlands Avoids Antics, Drama, But Feels Familiar Heartbreak

The case, actually, was far from closed. Soon after that interview, Humberto Rojano, the former president of the Mexican Referees’ Commission, went public on how Codesal had been appointed. He spoke of a meeting he had with Javier Arriaga, former head of the Mexican FA’s Referees’ Commission and a key figure in FIFA’s Referees’ Commission in 1990. Arriaga also happened to be Codesal’s father-in-law.

Rojano told Mexican paper La Jornada that “the authorities,” ­a phrase that is deliberately vague, ­had told Arriaga that “Argentina didn’t have to win.”

“I know the Argentines still hate me and that hurts,” Codesal told Reforma years later. “I love them and it hurts that I made them suffer. I would have liked Argentina won their third World Cup back in 1990. If I were God, I would change things, but I’m not God. I do know that in 50 years, they still won’t forgive me.”

Five Goals in 18 Minutes: How Mighty Germany Ripped Apart a Helpless Brazil

Codesal had actually watched the 1986 World Cup final between the same sides in Mexico, and had been supporting Argentina. But in 2011, over 20 years after the incident, Codesal’s stance had hardened against the continued hostility from the losing nation.

“I admire the Argentines for their will to win, but they have not learnt to lose, they just can’t accept it,” he said. “Someone told them that they lost because I was the referee, and they believed it. When Maradona uses his hand to score, that’s intelligent; but if they don’t win, it’s because someone stole from them.”

FIFA will announce the referee for Sunday’s clash between Germany and Argentina Friday afternoon, and whoever earns the honor will surely be operating with the cloud of Codesal lingering in the memory.

This article originally appeared on SI.com.

GALLERY: Brazil Fans React to Semifinal Demolition

TIME NBA

Yeah, LeBron James Totally Won Free Agency

LeBron's a different man now

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If LeBron has any “haters” left, now’s not a bad time to exit that whole silly business.

In a simple, direct, and utterly genuine essay penned, with the help of writer Lee Jenkins, on SI.com, James announced Friday he’s coming home to Cleveland. He’s leaving the Miami Heat, which has won two championships during his four years in South Beach, for a team with the worst record in the NBA since he departed in 2010. Why would he take less guaranteed money with Miami, and much shakier prospects at adding more rings to his fingers, to sign with the Cavs?

“My relationship with Northeast Ohio is bigger than basketball,” James wrote. “I didn’t realize that four years ago. I do now.”

No chirping about taking his talents somewhere. “I’m not having a press conference or party,” James writes. He just a offers a frank assessment of where his head is at now, compared to where it was four summers ago, when he made his infamous “Decision” on national television. James’ openness, and emotional maturity, should be applauded. He admitted what any reasonable person watching James in that Boys & Girls Club four years ago could see: he was stressed as all hell about leaving Cleveland. He looked somewhat miserable that evening.

“I was thinking, this is really tough. I could feel it,” James writes. So could everyone else. “I was leaving something I had spent a long time creating.”

But he needed that first ring, and knew, back then, that joining up with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami was the easiest path to that goal. “When I left Cleveland, I was on a mission,” James writes. “I was seeking championships.” After sports fans cheered when the Big Three lost to the Dallas Mavericks in 2011 NBA Finals — and LeBron underperformed — James became a happy mercenary. You can still criticize him, I guess, for avoiding the rough road to a title. Michael never left Chicago. Bird never left Boston. Magic never left the Lakers. Kobe never left the Lakers. Isaiah Thomas never left Detroit. But LeBron never had his Scottie Pippen, his McHale and Parish, his Kareem and Worthy, his Shaq, his Joe Dumars and his Bad Boys. And bottom line, when James writes, “I became a better player and better man” in Miami, he’s absolutely right. He put in the work to develop a post-game, to become a more efficient outside shooter and creator. He took no easy road.

He’s made his peace with Dan Gilbert, the Cavs owner who torched James when he left for Miami. “I’ve met with Dan, face-to-face, man-to-man,” James writes in SI. “We’ve talked it out. Everybody makes mistakes. I’ve made mistakes as well. Who am I to hold a grudge?” Gilbert is so, so lucky that James is a “better man.” No one would have blamed James if he never wanted to work for someone who became so unhinged.

So James is coming home to write the fairy tale ending, and try to deliver Cleveland its first major sports title since 1964. The Cavs team he left in 2010 was probably more championship-ready than the one he’s coming to (unless Cleveland can land Minnesota’s Kevin Love in a trade). Now, he’s voluntarily taking a rougher road — at less money, we should repeat — for more hardware. Should Miami fans feel cheated? Ha. Lebron helped the Heat win two more titles, on top of the one Wade delivered, nearly on his own, in 2006. The Miami Heat made its franchise debut 26 years ago, and have won three championships. You know how many franchises have won more titles than Miami over that period? Just three: the Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs. Detroit, like Miami, has won three. So 25 NBA teams, and fan bases, would love to have Miami’s problems. Also, South Beach isn’t the most sympathetic fan base. Remember when all those people left Game 6 of the 2013 Finals, and tried to get back into the arena after Ray Allen’s killer game-tying three kept the Heat alive in a series it would go on to win?

LeBron’s reportedly off to Brazil, to watch the World Cup final. Over the next few days, he’ll let the fans and pundits back home dissect this momentous move. He’s already written his piece. Millions of captivated hoops fans will be watching, over the next few seasons, to see how the story ends.

TIME NBA

LeBron’s Decision Sets Off Tweets of Congratulations and Wizard of Oz Puns

Cavs fans tweeted congratulations while Miami Heat fans were less than delighted

Less than an hour after LeBron James announced he would return to play for the Cleveland Cavaliers, the hashtags #TeamCavs and #TheKingIsBack as well as “Poor Wade” were all trending on Twitter.

The championship-winning player himself chose to announce his decision with an Instagram post, followed by a separate tweet linking to Sports Illustrated’s exclusive on his choice.

Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert as well as fellow athletes and sports commentators also chimed in on the social media platform to offer words of congratulations or simply a well-timed Wizard of Oz pun.

Miami fans were slightly less enthused.

Tickets to see LeBron back at his home court and the Cavs’ chance at a championship also became topics of Twitter conversation.

Other Internet onlookers were at the ready to remind Cleveland fans of Gilbert’s infamous letter to LeBron (typed in Comic Sans font) after he left the Cavs in 2010, calling him a “coward” and mocking his nickname “King James.”

The letter remained on the Cavs’ website for four year and was only removed earlier this week. No hard feelings, King James.

TIME World Cup

Watch Every World Cup Goal in 1 Minute

With a total of 171 goals after the final match, the 2014 World Cup in Brazil tied the record for most goals scored, which was previously held by the 1998 World Cup in France

TIME NBA

As LeBron Decides, Miami and Cleveland Wait

Free Agency LeBron Basketball
LeBron James attends the LeBron James Skills Academy Thursday, July 10, 2014, in Las Vegas. John Locher—AP

When it comes to LeBron James, all that's certain is this: One fan base is about to feel scorned, and other is about to feel absolute joy

When it comes to LeBron James, all that’s certain is this: One fan base is about to feel scorned, and other is about to feel absolute joy.

Miami or Cleveland?

The same choice he faced four years ago is the one facing the four-time NBA MVP now. He became a champion in Miami. He still calls Ohio home. It’s obviously not an easy decision, and the ramifications of what he’s about to say — it’s still unclear when any announcement will be coming, but it’s more than likely sooner than later — will have a massive impact on the Heat and the Cavaliers.

For the Heat, keeping James is likely the only way they can stay a championship-contending team for a fifth straight season next year. If he stays, it would seem likely that Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh would re-sign with Miami as well, keeping the “Big 3″ that has played in each of the last four NBA Finals intact for at least another season.

For the Cavaliers, it’s a chance to welcome home the player who fans — and the team’s owner Dan Gilbert — directed so much scorn toward when he left in 2010 after seven brilliant seasons.

James left Las Vegas late Thursday, two people close to the situation told The Associated Press. One of those people said James and Wade were flying together to Miami, and that James would be continuing on from there for his long-planned trip to Brazil for the World Cup finals. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because none of the details were revealed publicly.

Earlier Thursday, James again appeared at his skills academy for the nation’s top high school and college players, scrimmaging and then watching games in the afternoon with some friends, including Wade. Meanwhile, in Bath Township, Ohio, cars lined the streets near James’ 30,000-square-foot mansion in anticipation of an announcement. People posed for photographs and TV news crews did remote reports from the driveway of his offseason home.

___

As he makes his choice, here’s some things he may be considering about returning to Cleveland:

BUSINESS HEADQUARTERS: Northeast Ohio is where James and his close friends grew up. He has business interests in the Cleveland area. He and his LRMR agency recently signed popular college quarterback Johnny Manziel to a marketing deal. Manziel now plays for the Browns.

YOUNG ROSTER: Although the Cavaliers haven’t made the playoffs since he left, they can offer James a young roster filled with potential and promise. They’re led by All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving, who recently agreed to sign a five-year contract extension, and the Cavs also have two other No. 1 overall draft picks in Anthony Bennett and Andrew Wiggins.

COACHING STAFF: Cleveland’s coaching situation could be a concern. The Cavs are on their third coach since James left and the team recently hired David Blatt, an international icon but someone who has not coached in the U.S. before. The Cavs did hire well-respected assistant Tyronn Lue, who has a strong relationship with James.

CAVS ASSETS: The Cavs have assets they could trade to bring another elite player to Cleveland and have had preliminary talks with Minnesota about a deal for forward Kevin Love.

OWNER: The biggest obstacle in James’ possible return could be his relationship with Gilbert. In the hours after James left four years ago, Gilbert blistered James in a scathing letter to Cleveland fans. In an AP interview that same night, Gilbert said James quit during the playoffs.

___

And while James has strong ties to Ohio, he has also forged them in Miami.

PROVEN WINNERS: Instead of potential, the Heat are proven champions. James has been to four straight NBA Finals with Miami, winning two championships. They have made good on the promise Heat President Pat Riley made to James four years ago: Come to Miami, be part of something special, and compete for titles every year.

COACHING STAFF: There hasn’t been turnover in Miami’s coaching staff and front office since James joined the Heat. He’s played for just one coach, Erik Spoelstra, and Riley has championship pedigree.

OWNER: Unlike the situation with Gilbert, there’s no rancor with Heat owner Micky Arison. The Heat have preached a family approach to everything, even allowing members of James’ inner circle access to the locker room and other team areas — no minor thing within the framework of the Heat culture.

BIG 3: James came to Miami in large part to play with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, both of whom also are free agents. It’s hard to envision Bosh staying if James leaves. It’s easy to see both Wade and Bosh recommitting instantly, if James decides to stay in Miami.

MIAMI INVESTMENTS: His wife has a juice bar in the Brickell neighborhood of Miami and James is said to be investing in a chain of pizza restaurants coming soon to South Florida. He doesn’t have Miami roots, but he’s created ties to South Florida nonetheless.

___

It’s easy to see why James is torn.

Whether it was one of Gilbert’s planes coming to South Florida, or movers packing up James’ luxury cars from his Coconut Grove, Florida home, or reports that a cupcake shop in Ohio had heard from people that James had already decided to return to Cleveland, any nugget of information sets the rumor mill into overdrive.

But his camp says he has all the information needed to make a decision.

The ball is now in LeBron James’ hands.

TIME Sports

After Today, Wrigley Field Will Never Be the Same

Wrigley Field Chicago Cubs
Chicago's landmarks commission unanimously approved a multimillion-dollar renovation July 10 of Wrigley Field, home of baseball's Chicago Cubs. Jonathan Daniel—Getty Images

Chicago's landmarks commission has approved a $575 million renovation to the Chicago Cubs’ iconic stadium

One of America’s sports cathedrals is officially inching closer to the Jumbotron era.

Chicago’s landmarks commission unanimously approved a plan July 10 for a multimillion-dollar upgrade to Wrigley Field, home of baseball’s Chicago Cubs, clearing the way for seven advertising signs that includes a video screen hovering over its iconic ivy-covered outfield walls. The plan has raised the ire of Wrigleyville’s residents and could trigger a lawsuit from owners of the ballpark’s surrounding rooftop clubs and restaurants who rely on their unobstructed view inside the stadium.

The $575 million upgrade has been in limbo for months after the Cubs failed to reach a deal with rooftop owners who argue that additional signage in the outfield will block their views and hurt their business.

The Commission on Chicago Landmarks, which must approve any changes to Wrigley after the ballpark was deemed a city landmark in 2004, initially signed off on a $500 million renovation last year, which included just two new outfield signs and prompted the threat of a lawsuit from surrounding rooftop owners. But as talks broke down between the team and rooftop owners, Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts unveiled a new proposal that included seven signs, more lights and larger clubhouses, essentially abandoning negotiations and all but inviting legal action from rooftop owners.

The team took the new proposal to the commission after Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel asked the Cubs to reduce the size of the outfield advertising and pledge to continue negotiating with rooftop owners, who have a revenue-sharing agreement with the team that expires at the end of 2023.

The Ricketts family, which owns the Cubs, argues that additional advertising is necessary to fund major renovations to the ballpark that could ultimately raise revenues and help the team get to its first World Series in more than a century.

But the changes have been challenged not only by surrounding rooftop owners, who fear the signs will hurt business, but also by those who view The Friendly Confines — with its hand-turned scoreboard, ivy-covered outfield and neighborhood feel — with nostalgia and bristle at any changes to one of America’s most beloved stadiums, which is celebrating its 100th birthday this year.

While the landmarks commission approved the renovation, the city council still has to OK it – and the rooftop owners still may opt to sue the team after all.

But if the renovations finally move forward, the additional revenue could provide a boost for the city’s beloved Cubbies, who haven’t reached the playoffs since 2008 and haven’t won a World Series since 1908. They’re currently 39-52 and in last place in the National League Central Division.

TIME world cup 2014

WATCH: Brazilian Women’s Love/Hate Relationship With World Cup Tourists

Contradictory reports abound

+ READ ARTICLE

“The World Cup is God’s gift to women,” Brazilian 22-year-old Renata de Mouro Moitinho told the AP while resting from a dance with an Italian man in Rio. “There are so many men everywhere these days, it’s amazing.”

Stories about Brazilian women celebrating the “man bonanza” of the World Cup have abounded on the Internet, but so have articles featuring complaints that male visitors are treating Brazilian women with disrespect. The stereotype that Brazilian women are overtly sexual, which some observers claim male football fans have been exploiting during their World Cup trips, clashes with the host country’s identity as the largest Catholic country in the world.

 

TIME World Cup

FIFA Denies Luis Suarez’s Appeal for Chiellini Bite

World Cup Luis Suarez
Luis Suarez of Uruguay reacts after biting Giorgio Chiellini of Italy during a 2014 FIFA World Cup match on June 24 in Natal, Brazil. Shaun Botterill—FIFA/Getty Images

This was Suarez's third career biting incident

sportsillustrated

By Paul Palladino

Uruguayan Luis Suarez’s appeal of his suspension has been denied by FIFA, soccer’s governing body announced on Thursday.

Suarez was suspended last month for biting Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini during a World Cup match on June 24. He was banned for nine of Uruguay’s matches in addition to a four-month ban from all soccer-related events, meaning he will have to sit out matches for his club, Liverpool

Brazil’s Nightmare Gets Worse: Argentina to Play for World Cup Title

It was the third biting incident in Suarez’s career. He was also suspended eight matches and fined $63,000 for racist remarks on the pitch in 2011.

In Suarez’s absence, Uruguay lost in the round of 16 to Colombia in the 2014 World Cup.

This article originally appeared on SI.com.

WATCH: Argentina Ousts Dutch, Sets Up Final vs. Germany

 

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