Breaking Down the Decision: Lebron’s Return to a City in Need
The King is returning to his throne. Four years after leaving the city of Cleveland, a town that has not had a championship in 50 years, Lebron James told Sports Illustrated that he has decided to come back to the Cavaliers, who he played for from 2003 to 2010.
The Cavaliers cleared cap space to fit James in earlier this week, shipping off Jarett Jack to Brooklyn and Tyler Zeller to Boston, and now those moves make perfect sense. The idea that Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert’s letter was playing into King James’ decision was the latest news on Friday morning, but as Lebron said in his letter, “I’ve met with Dan, face-to-face, man-to-man. We’ve talked it out. Everybody makes mistakes. I’ve made mistakes as well. Who am I to hold a grudge?”
With that one factor ruled out of the question, Pat Riley had been going through the same situation that former Cleveland GM Chris Grant felt in 2010. This decision was not about the Cavaliers, according to Lebron. He told SI that he feels his “calling here goes above basketball.” And for James, this was more than basketball. Miami’s roster set-up could have been argued as still having talent, but for James, the legacy hit that he took in 2010 has now returned with a boost in 2014.
As for the set-up in Cleveland, the Cavaliers have an elite point guard and All Star in Kyrie Irving. The talent and potential cap space is also available to get Kevin Love as has been speculated. If all things were to hold up, James does have Andrew Wiggins and can return to play with a veteran and friend in Anderson Varejao.
Just a personal take: I remember watching Lebron in high school at an early age. He was the best player the city had ever seen, and he was just a teenager. He put Cleveland on the map. Quicken Loans Arena was packed night in and night out. And then it all collapsed. The city’s revenue took a hit. Dan Gilbert took backlash. Everything took a domino effect. Well, now, a city that has been through so much gets a reward that has been waiting for a long time coming. Miami was a place for James to mature. It was a place for him to find meaningful experience. Now, the narrative is all that more meaningful because a team with nearly no playoff experience has the talent to be an NBA champion contender. And for the word “champion” and “Cleveland” to be associated together, it gives the community something to enjoy. Because as James reportedly said, “In Northeast Ohio, nothing is given. Everything is earned. You work for what you have.”
The forgiveness is complete. Now, it’s time to witness the King, and he’s taken notice. The return is real.