From there, only speculation mattered. LeBron will force a trade at the end of the season. That's how it read.

After that, the loss on Sunday. That made three in a row. Another streak.

Should the improbability of LeBron's future two months from now have an impact on a team that has two games left to determine its playoff life? Is it the chemistry or the psyche of the team that's weak? When no other playoff-bound team in the league is free falling like this, the answer: Maybe yes.

Which means the issues facing the Cavs are much deeper than the rumors of LeBron's departure. Even his agent's comments – "[LeBron] has no intention of leaving ... he has the full confidence that the new owner will do everything he can to build a winning team ... he wants to bring a championship to Cleveland ... he will not think of going anywhere else until that goal is exhausted ... " – haven't helped.

Even if LBJ's comments – "The fans in the city [of Cleveland] have nothing to worry about ... I'm here ... " – haven't helped.

Which leads us back to that one thing, the only thing that's been done under Dan Gilbert's reign: The removal of the coach. That's all. Evidence of nothing else exists. Flip Saunders, Bill Laimbeer or Tom Izzo as coach? Nothing. Greg Anthony as GM? Nothing. Sign-and-trade for Zydrunas Ilgauskas? Nothing.

LeBron a Knick? Nothing to the third power.

Can one move have that much of a negative impact without something much deeper contributing? Could it be coincidence?

Webster's defines coincidence as such: "the condition of coinciding; a series of chance events that seem to have been planned."

A collection of coincidences that almost act as a black cloud inside a franchise that hasn't seen sunny days since ... since ... damn.

Is it simply a coincidence that the minute Dan Gilbert inherited this team, Ilgauskas dislocated a finger on his shooting hand and Drew Gooden sprained his shoulder? Is it coincidence that even in the minds of die-hard Cavs fans, both Jeff McInnis and Eric Snow hit a point-guard wall? Is it coincidence that teams then started exposing the Cavs' defensive issues by running screen-and-rolls like they were Argentina and Cleveland was the USA Olympic squad?

Is it coincidence that, in the observation of ESPN analyst Len Elmore, the minute LeBron's trust in his teammates dropped, they stopped moving without the ball?

Is it coincidence that only seven days after the date published on that magazine that had LeBron on the cover with the headline that read "Best Ever?" the jinx came into effect – but seemed to affect everyone connected to the organization but him? Can coincidence be that strong?

Or is this just Cleveland?

Wonder how Webster's defines "fate."

Scoop Jackson is an award-winning journalist who has covered sports and culture for more than 15 years. He is a former editor of Slam, XXL, Hoop and Inside Stuff magazines; and the author of "Sole Provider: 30 Years of NIKE Basketball," "Battlegrounds: America's Street Poets Called Ballers" and "LeBron James: the Chambers of Fear." He resides in Chicago with his wife and two kids. You can e-mail Scoop here.



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