LeBron James just started the 2014 NBA free agency season. Nobody has ever controlled a game of basketball dominoes like LeBron. There were rumors. Savannah James posted a picture to Instagram, transport trucks took LeBron’s cars from his house, and Dan Gilbert’s letter was edited. Today, he really did it. LeBron James is headed back home to play for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Despite all the rumors, LeBron never put on a show. He didn’t say a single word. His agent handled all the meetings, he flew to Vegas for his camp, and now to Brazil for the World Cup final. Today, he wrote an essay titled, “I’m Coming Home,” and with the same caption, he posted a picture on his Insatgram.
James wrote that he always believed that he would return to Cleveland in his letter. The burning of his jerseys, the booing of the fans, and Dan Gilbert’s infamous letter hurt LeBron. He loves his hometown. What was so impressive about LeBron’s letter, was the maturity and humbleness. “The Decision” was tough for him, and while he says he would do the situation differently, he admits that he would have still left for Miami. Now, after winning two championships in Miami, James is on the same quest to get championships, but as a more mature player in his hometown.
I’m not promising a championship. I know how hard that is to deliver. We’re not ready right now. No way. Of course, I want to win next year, but I’m realistic. It will be a long process, much longer than it was in 2010. My patience will get tested. I know that. I’m going into a situation with a young team and a new coach. I will be the old head. But I get a thrill out of bringing a group together and helping them reach a place they didn’t know they could go. I see myself as a mentor now and I’m excited to lead some of these talented young guys. I think I can help Kyrie Irving become one of the best point guards in our league. I think I can help elevate Tristan Thompson and Dion Waiters. And I can’t wait to reunite with Anderson Varejao, one of my favorite teammates.
This was the perfect beginning and ending to free agency. Sure, there were a few signings with Shaun Livingston and Josh McRoberts, but free agency did not really start until LeBron signed. Now the pieces fall into place. Chris Bosh is almost sure to sign with the Houston Rockets, Carmelo Anthony will decide between competing for a championship right away with the Chicago Bulls or trust in Phil Jackson and the New York Knicks. The odd man out of course, is Dwyane Wade. Will he stay in Miami and be their face of the franchise forever or does he possibly have his own homecoming with the Bulls.
If you’re happy or mad with LeBron’s decision, you have to be way more excited for the upcoming NBA season. Nobody has controlled the landscape of a sport like LeBron is. For how much it is worth, the decision to come back home to Cleveland was bigger than Michael Jordan coming back to basketball and it is up there with Jordan deciding to play baseball.
(The Cleveland Plain Dealer made a fantastic front page for LeBron’s return to Cleveland.)
We always thought that there was a chance LeBron could go back to Cleveland for how much he loves his home. What is truly amazing after four years and four straight NBA Finals, is that Cleveland makes more basketball sense than Miami. James saw it coming for longer than we know too. The Heat started turning into the Cavs late in 2013 and it became clear in 2014. He had to carry this team and as much as he dominated, the Heat couldn’t even compete with a complete team like the San Antonio Spurs.
Now, LeBron is playing the player-coach role with a young team that has a much brighter future than Miami. The head coach, David Blatt, is coaching in America for the first time ever, and this time has virtually no playoff experience. Yes, they are still a better basketball option than Miami though. Kyrie Irving is one of the best point guards in basketball and signed a max contract this summer, Andrew Wiggins could be one of two things for the Cavs: A young defensive wing that LeBron could help turn into a star, or a trade asset for Kevin Love, and Cleveland has three first-round draft picks next year. Notice, LeBron did not mention Wiggins or Anthony Bennett in his letter for you Kevin Love conspiracy theorists.
The roster really doesn’t matter right now. All of that will get figured out. What matters is that this is a really, really cool story that makes for an exciting few months to come. The hometown hero wins two MVPs with Cleveland, but can’t win a championship, so he dashes for South Beach, wins two more MVPs and this time two championships, all to come back home and try to bring a championship to his beloved Northeast Ohio.
LeBron played the hero role beautifully from high school to the pros. He was then the masterful villain, and now the beloved, and forgiven hero. Screw cliches, this is fun, this is cool, LeBron is one hell of dramatist, and let’s all just enjoy the show.