(Author’s note: This was written over two hours ago. However, dues to texhnical and WordPress issues, I couldn’t publish it until now.)
NBA fans, free agency has officially begun! Granted, the period began 10 days ago, but it was at a standstill, until this morning.
That’s because the league’s best player, Lebron James, has announced that he’ll be going back to the Cleveland Cavaliers. All of a sudden, the same “fans” who burned his jersey and the owner who spewed hate towards him will be welcoming him back with open arms.
James, 29, announced his decision exclusively to Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated this morning. It had nowhere near the glitz or glamour of his infamous July 2010 decision, in which he decided to “take his talents to South Beach”.
The whole event so heavily panned that the Miami Heat became a reviled franchise, and Lebron became the league’s biggest villain. Now, Lebron can become somewhat likeable again.
As for why he decided to go back to his home state, James had this to say.
“… 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.”
So, basically he wanted to learn how to win, before teaching his home team how to do the same? That’s a reason that may or may not be completely true, but it’s a likeable response.
In leaving Miami, James will be departing a team with whom he made the NBA Finals in each of his four seasons there, winning twice. However, many would argue that the reason that his Heat got that far was due to how weak the Eastern Conference was each time, when compared to the West.
That was never more apparent than this past season, in which his team practically coasted back to the Eastern Conference Finals as always, before dispatching of the Indiana Pacers with relative ease, and advancing to the NBA Finals for the fourth straight year.
For James and the Miami Heat, the Finals were nothing short of a horror show. Aside from a close two-point road victory at the San Antonio Spurs, the Heat got blown out in every game. The two games in Miami resulted in 19 and 21 point blowout losses for the Heat, who blew a 16-point first quarter lead in Game 5, before getting obliterated by 17 in the final game of Lebron’s Miami Heat career.
Despite garnering both of his championships in Miami, it’s easy to argue that James had his best statistical seasons in Cleveland. In his final six seasons there, he averaged over 28 points per game four times, over seven rebounds five times, and over six assists four times, including a career high 8.6 assists in his final season there.
In Miami, he never averaged more than 27.1 ppg, but his rebounding and assists did not suffer at all.
Born in Akron, James will finally be heading back to his home state. His wife, as well as many others, hinted at his return to Cleveland over the past months. The media went crazy over this, and apparently, for good reason.
The move benefits him, Cleveland, and even the league itself! That’s because their top player is no longer a reviled villain, Cleveland will no longer be a dumpster fire, and, most importantly, the biggest players are finally going to make decisions in free agency.
No longer will the latest buzz surrounding other players such as Carmelo Anthony, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh be irrelevant, nor will they stall anymore. The Miami Heat won’t be the same, but judging by how well Pat Riley has done over the years, it’s hard to believe they’ll struggle for long.
The NBA can restart, and so can Lebron James. Congratulations Cleveland, you’re hero is back.