At 7:34 pm on Wednesday night, Lebron James parted ways with Miami Heat president Pat Riley, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports.
There are a few things that can be taken into account when looking at The King’s current scenario. First, it appears that Lebron does not have a final decision. Nor should he, really. If King James has matured since he went on television and publicly embarrassed the city of Cleveland in 2010, then surely a 90-minute discussion with Pat Riley should not be the determiner of his decision, no matter what it is.
A 90-minute talk with Riley certainly seems odd. It’s been a common theme for past free agents and those negotiating contracts to meet for hours and hours on end. It’s been reported that James will talk things over with his wife, Savannah, and his mother Gloria. To get out of the great grasp that Riley has put on other players before is no easy feat. With the idea of James talking to his family about his decision coming out of the meeting, the advantage sides with Cavs. James did not spend an overwhelming amount of time with Riley, and it’s clear where his family wants to spend their time. James’ two sons are enrolled to attend school in the two-time champion’s hometown of Akron. While he went to Miami four years ago, James has still kept an involvement with Saint Vincent Saint Mary in Akron, donating money and continuing to help the community of Akron.
In weighing his options, James can go back to a place where he has won two titles, but now that he has the pressure of getting the O’Brien Tropy in his hands, the question arises of whether he can build for himself. The common belief for James is that he needs help. In Cleveland, he can not only receive help, but he can build something for a franchise that has one NBA Finals appearance in 2007. Lebron doesn’t have to join forces with other superstars. While the Cavs have a star with Kyrie Irving, the organization has felt nothing since the man who began to build, Lebron, was there. Now, James can finish, just as he promised when he became a Cavalier. But, the idea of going back to a place where he has won with a front office that has always found a way to make things work is certainly enticing. So, from the basketball side, there’s still so much on the line. One thing remains constant: Riley’s ability to make moves right now to prove something to Lebron is on ice. He’s in the same limbo that Chris Grant found himself in during the 2010 offseason. It’s not easy reeling in free agents when there are no guarantees. Need an example? Just see Chris Bosh’s current state right now. He wants to play with LBJ, but he’s forced to play a waiting game even though he has max dollars from Houston on the table.
Whereas the first decision was about making a business choice in order to win, which should be the primary goal, now Lebron has to look at how he will be remembered. He can stay in Miami, but with Wade and Bosh not in their prime, James’ championship hopes with the original core that he went to South Beach with aren’t very good for long. In and of itself, his legacy can be greatly enhanced in Cleveland. The comeback narrative is fascinating and he can rejuvenate a city that has felt nothing like when they had LBJ packing Quicken Loans Arena night in and night out.
A less mature James would have waived at the Cavs because of Dan Gilbert’s letter four years ago. But if that letter was still in play, it’s fair to think Cleveland would not be a candidate for The King. He has allowed his agent, the paid professional for this situation, take a bigger role, and Rich Paul has consulted Lebron throughout. If this were just a basketball decision, the great player that The King is would have made the choice already. But as we stand, this is about many lives now. There are many affected by this type of deal. And this time, James’ patience and due diligence shows what he has become – more than just an immature kid who let the city that supported him for so long hang out to dry.