I could have sworn that LeBron James would remain a member of the Miami Heat. I thought to myself “why would LeBron leave the Heat, where he would have several opportunities to compete for championships in the weak-ass Eastern Conference?” More so, “why in the hell would LeBron ever, EVER, play for owner Dan Gilbert after that childish scathing letter he wrote after LeBron’s departure?”
I guess I had it wrong. In fact, I had LeBron’s thought process wrong as well.
But that doesn’t mean I do not understand where LeBron is coming from.
If we step back for a minute to survey everything, we’d realize that the Heat were in worse shape than we’d all imagine. That curb-stomping administered by the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Finals taught us a lot about Miami. It is not deep and worst of all, OLD. Miami’s bench was virtually non-existent against San Antonio.
Basically the Heat – beyond LeBron, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh – are simply not that good. And Wade’s health is once-again suspect. LeBron had to have figured, if the Heat is in such bad shape, why stick around on an older beat-up team instead of going a place where the personnel are younger, talented – and dare I say HUNGRIER?
Enter the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Cavs are younger, talented and deeper than the Heat. Kyrie Irving is a stud. Dion Waiters is a talented marksman. LeBron is going to help get those two young brothers on the same page. Oh, and Andrew Wiggins is going to be a star.
Granted Cleveland just hired a coach who hasn’t coached an NBA game (hell anyone is an upgrade over Mike Brown), but he is respected in international basketball. What helps is LeBron also respects him and should help guide the Cavs to the promised land.
Plus given what LeBron said about his old-stomping grounds in an Sports Illustrated article, he longed to come back:
“I always believed that I’d return to Cleveland and finish my career there. I just didn’t know when. After the season, free agency wasn’t even a thought. But I have two boys and my wife, Savannah, is pregnant with a girl. I started thinking about what it would be like to raise my family in my hometown. I looked at other teams, but I wasn’t going to leave Miami for anywhere except Cleveland. The more time passed, the more it felt right. This is what makes me happy.”
LeBron returns to Cleveland a better player, a better leader – and a better man. I clowned him in the past for running away to join another superstar and win titles elsewhere, but I understood his reasoning for leaving Cleveland the first time around:
“When I left Cleveland, I was on a mission. I was seeking championships, and we won two. But Miami already knew that feeling. Our city hasn’t had that feeling in a long, long, long time. My goal is still to win as many titles as possible, no question. But what’s most important for me is bringing one trophy back to Northeast Ohio.”
As for playing for Gilbert again, I guess LeBron has truly forgiven him and turned the page. LeBron is a better man than me. There was no way in hell I would play for an asshole who did me like that while walking out the door.
At any rate, good for LeBron, good for Cleveland – and perhaps good for the NBA…