Opinion

The Great Debate

LeBron James, the best basketball player on the planet, is taking his ball and going home

By Matt Walks
July 11, 2014
RTR3TIJS.jpg
On Friday, LeBron James announced his decision to return to the Cleveland Cavaliers, spurning the Miami Heat and sending shockwaves through the NBA.
For Cleveland, a sports town routinely snakebitten, it’s hard to overstate the importance of this moment. When James, famously took “his talents to South Beach” in 2010, jilted fans burned jerseys in the streets like letters from an ex-girlfriend. Traitor, they called him, and much worse. The team’s owner penned a childishly angry, all-caps Comic Sans letter condemning the Akron, Ohio, native.

None of that vitriol went away as James won two titles with Miami and became the undisputed best player in the game.

But now he’s back, and with James and rookie Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel, Cleveland has arguably sports’ two most-talked-about athletes. The spotlight shines bright on Northeast Ohio, where, as James said in his announcement through Sports Illustrated, “nothing is given. Everything is earned. You work for what you have.”

The politician in James understands the need to coax the community back to embracing him, but from the looks of the spontaneous public celebrations throughout Cleveland, he needn’t have bothered.

He’s been welcomed back with open arms.

With James on the court, the Cavaliers instantly become a favorite in the Eastern Conference. Surrounding James is all-star Kyrie Irving, Anthony Bennett and rookie Andrew Wiggins. All four of them No. 1 overall draft picks, and none of them has reached their full potential.

The unknown variable is the team’s front office. First-year general manager David Griffin will have to fill out the Cavaliers’ roster with the kind of proven role-players that won James his two titles in Miami. On the sidelines, rookie head coach David Blatt has the benefit of James to help tutor his promising talent, but little room for error if the team unexpectedly flirts with mediocrity.

Without coaching a game, Blatt’s seat is already a little warm.

The biggest loser, however, is Miami. In addition to losing James, the Heat are expected to lose Chris Bosh to the Rockets, leaving them with a battered Dwyane Wade and a host of supporting players with no one to support.

Elsewhere across the league, the move will trigger an avalanche of roster transactions. Teams that lost the LeBron lottery will race to snatch up the best players remaining on the free-agent market.

The economics of the NBA are an obfuscating spiderweb of rules, restrictions and exceptions. A lot of unpredictable moves will happen very quickly now that James has made the first move.

PHOTO:  A fan holds up an oversized cutout of the face of Miami Heat forward LeBron James prior to game four of the 2014 NBA Finals against the San Antonio Spurs at American Airlines Arena. Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

Comments
6 comments so far | RSS Comments RSS

I have no idea how anybody can even follow this sport. These guys act like the biggest bunch of arrogant prima donnas.

Posted by dd606 | Report as abusive
 

Earth to LeBron – ‘Nobody Cares’.. A bunch of overpaid spoiled children….

Posted by willich6 | Report as abusive
 

With everything else going on, WHO CARES?

Posted by APLEY | Report as abusive
 

How easy it is for people to judge.

First, Miami should celebrate Mr. James . . . and not because he’s leaving, but because he went to Miami in the first place. After all, without him, raise your hand if you believe the Heat would have garnered two titles.

Second, I believe Mr. James is merely being rational, e.g. he’s looking out for his own best interest. As someone once said, it’s all about the Benjamins and looking out into the future, there’s no question of his having (like all athletes) a limited shelf life.

Bottom line? The remuneration was best with him back in Cleveland. Moreover, based on this year’s title attempt, it appears Mr. James decided if he wasn’t going to be surrounded by the players necessary to make another successful title run in in Miami, he may as well be surrounded by mediocrity in Cleveland and pocket more money. E.g. we’re back to his considering his own best interests.

Finally, whom amongst us doesn’t act in their own best interests? Why would we expect Lebron James to be any different. In closing, please, don’t be so quick to judge. Instead, let’s be glad we’ve been alive to witness these moments of him in his prime. Along with Michael Jordan, I consider myself privileged to have witnessed his professional life and am happy for him . . . despite the fact I live in FL.

Posted by jbeech | Report as abusive
 

LeBrick returns to Cleveland/Akron…

Posted by IamBAD1 | Report as abusive
 

@jbeech
” Instead, let’s be glad we’ve been alive to witness these moments of him in his prime.”

Is that a joke? You act as though James has accomplished something notable. WAKE UP! IT’S JUST A GAME!

Posted by JRTerrance | Report as abusive
 

Post Your Comment

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
  •