The wait is over!! The most anticipated sports story possibly of all-time has culminated in 3 simple words: “I’m Coming Home.” As you all know, these words were spoken today by basketball’s best player, Lebron James. This announcement came not in the form of an ego driven, poorly thought out press conference, but in an essay, written for Lebron, by Lee Jenkins via SportsIllustrated.com. The essay can be found here: http://www.si.com/nba/2014/07/11/lebron-james-cleveland-cavaliers There is so much to dissect and express from this situation it is hard to know where to start, but let me try starting with Lebron the player.
Lebron James is the best player in the world and has been for quite some time now. Lebron James would have been welcomed with open arms anywhere he decided to go, except for maybe Cleveland (which is what some of us thought before this decision). We now know that is untrue. Despite the most complicated player-city relationship in the history of sports, despite the burning of his jerseys, despite the angriest letter (compliments of Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert) we’ve ever seen, and despite The Decision 4 years ago, every person in Cleveland seems to be ecstatic, and there is a 100% approval rate that Lebron is returning to Cleveland. Maybe I’m being too negative, or maybe I’m not giving people enough credit, but I’m SHOCKED that there isn’t ONE person that is pumping the brakes and saying, woah woah woah, you may be great, but we aren’t about to forget what you did to us just 4 short years ago. Trust me, I understand the expression: ‘Forgive, but never forget’, but it seems like Cleveland has already done both instantaneously. Now I also understand that Cleveland is not a city rich in championships, and they are a passionate sports city that would do virtually anything to end that drought, but where is the self-respect? Do none of you remember those feelings of hatred and anger that filled your souls in 2010? Again, Lebron James is the best player in the world and this move makes The Cleveland Cavaliers instant competitors, but something about it leaves an uneasy feeling in my stomach. As far as where the Cavaliers stand now, the Las Vegas odds makers have already thrown Cleveland to the top of the favorites to win the 2015 NBA championship list (they are going off at 3-1 as of right now).
Next, let’s talk about Lebron James the man. By all accounts he seems like a really good guy. He came straight out of high school to the NBA (which doesn’t always end so well) and adjusted to that seamlessly. He has never been arrested. He isn’t running around drinking, partying, and getting in trouble all the time. He seems to be all about basketball all the time. And for those reasons, I, along with the rest of the sports world, love and appreciate his passion and dedication to the game. When it’s all said and done he will be one of the top 10 players of all-time and potentially top 3 of all-time. However, I am seeing a different side of this story than virtually everyone else in the world. Sports writers, sports radio hosts, ESPN insiders, and just about everyone in the world are calling this a great day for sports. I’m here to tell you why I’m not buying it. Go ahead everyone, start killing me for it; I don’t mind.
Obviously this is certainly an amazing day for the Cleveland Cavaliers, that’s a no brainer. There is just something about Lebron James, the actor, that doesn’t sit right with me. I think that The Decision 4 years ago was a horrendous, slow-motion train wreck that should have been avoided. It was a selfish act by the self-proclaimed king, who cared more about getting the ‘win an NBA title’ monkey off his back, than he did loyalty. I know real loyalty doesn’t really exist in sports, but it does when you’re born and raised somewhere, drafted in that city, and then marked as the savior there as well. I see today as a selfish act as well. I think his essay was calculated from the title, all the way down to every last dotted i and crossed t. He said what he had to say to Miami to keep them from jumping down his throat for leaving, and he definitely told Cleveland everything they wanted to hear for why he is “returning home.” I believe he cares more about his image here than anything else. If he truly cared as much about Cleveland as he claims, he wouldn’t have left in the first place. Yes, everyone makes mistakes, which even he acknowledged, but I know what it’s like to have an allegiance and loyalty to your home, and I can’t picture ever leaving. And I am not Lebron James (shocker I know). I don’t effect my towns economy and the state of mind of every person in it. Even a selfish, misguided, immature 25 year old can understand that. As for the basketball moves he’s made over the past 4 years, first he said I can’t win a title by myself. Okay fine, maybe that one isn’t so bad. Almost no one has won an NBA championship by themselves, but did he really need to create his own personal all-star team just to capture his elusive first title? And what I see today, rather than let me try to win a title for my city, is now that I finally have my own championship rings, let me make my way back home where suddenly my hometown is good enough for me again. Again, maybe I’m reaching, nitpicking, and scrutinizing Lebron James’ every move too much, but I’m sorry, I’m just not buying what Lebron James is selling.
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