It’s time to Break It Down!
A few weeks ago, I wrote about the pending Decision Part II, and the lack of surprise that LeBron James was opting out of his contract with the Miami Heat. At the time, I really didn’t think it was surprising at all, because, I anticipated LeBron James would work the system, er, ah, I mean, explore his options, and unceremoniously re-sign with the Miami Heat. Boy was I wrong. Not only did The King ditch The Heat, he did what I considered the unthinkable; he returned to Cleveland. And when I say unthinkable, I mean, for me, unthinkable. So much so, that while I opined on a number of options, I did not even list the Cavs as a possible destination
Bloggers, journalists, columnists, and a host of highly opinionated types often regale us with their erstwhile personal prescience. The thing is, none of us is clairvoyant. As a result, on more than a few occasions, those brash and bold predictions are just flat out erroneous…just plain wrong! Such was the case in my “The Decision II” post.
With today’s post, I am defying that egotistical stereotype. Even now I readily admit, I thought LeBron was more likely to do a self-imposed stint in the D-League than return to Cleveland, where majority owner, Dan Gilbert skewered him mercilessly. In a now infamous open letter to Cleveland Cavaliers’ fans, Mr. Gilbert used the following terms to disparage LeBron and his departure:
• Former hero
• Cowardly betrayal
• Shameful display
In addition to that Top Ten list of denigrations, the Cavs’ majority owner noted, of James, “Some people think they should go to heaven but NOT have to die to get there.”
And if all that was enough, in an effort to make his position crystal clear, Mr. Gilbert underscored his combination of displeasure and resolve by heaping on the this jewel of a coal lump:
“I PERSONALLY GUARANTEE THAT THE CLEVELAND CAVALIERS WILL WIN AN NBA CHAMPIONSHIP BEFORE THE SELF-TITLED FORMER ‘KING’ WINS ONE”
To that all caps slam, the Quicken Loans founder then added the piece de resistance: “You can take that to the bank!”
At the time, I remember thinking, this dude sounds as though he felt LeBron was a slave…rather than a man with a contract, who decided to exercise his options. So yes, forgive me if I thought it unlikely that James would return to the employ of man who had rendered such a scathing review. And I recognize the more enlightened among you may say, let the past be the past. But the letter is hardly the past. Penned July 8, 2010, it was on the team’s website at least until July 6, 2014. That is almost 4 years to the day, and until just 10 days ago.
In my own defense, if I had one, I would note that I made my great prognosticatory blunder a day before the 2014 NBA Draft. Let me hasten to add, even though the Cavs got the 1st pick, and used it to select a young man of whom I am quite fond, I would not endeavor to attempt to deceive you or myself. I would have said the same things the day after the Draft that I said the day before the event.
Though I totally missed my call on the most important aspect of “The Decision, Part II,” where LeBron would take his talents, I was spot on regarding the nature of how he executed his choice. It was everything the 2010 debacle was not. It was low key and understated. It was handled without hype, or at least with as little hype as possible, when the top basketball player in the world changes teams. It was handled without rancor from the team James left, though a number of fans reacted less civilly than the team’s ownership.
Perhaps because LeBron is not from South Beach, maybe because The Heat expected him to leave anyway, or just possibly because Micky Arison is, at his core, a better human being than Dan Gilbert, in contrast to the Cavs owner’s diatribe from 4 years ago, Mr. Arison issued a simple tweet expressing his thoughts:
“I am shocked & disappointed in today’s news. However I will never forget what LeBron brought us for 4 years. Thanks for memories @KingJames.”
So, how was the chasm bridged that was created by Dan Gilbert’s letter? Apparently, Mr. Gilbert flew to Miami where he met with LeBron and apologized (in private). The “In private” part is significant, if for no other reason, because the letter was so very public.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski, of Yahoo Sports, Gilbert told James:
“We had five great years together and one terrible night,” “I told him how sorry I was, expressed regret for how that night went and how I let all the emotion and passion for situation carry me away. I told him I wish had never done it, that I wish I could take it back.”
In the end, James established that he was the bigger man. Undoubtedly, he could have leveraged a more public pronouncement, and he might have drawn the process out at least for the balance of the weekend. But he did not. He has grown in the past 4 years, and that was evident. This time he opted to let Dan Gilbert’s wallet do the talking. Aside from that, he of course recognizes that despite Gilbert’s braggadocio in the wake of him leaving Cleveland, over the past 4 years, while he was going to 4 NBA Finals and winning 2 Titles. The Cavs, in contrast, were so woeful (How woeful were they?), they received the 1st Draft pick in 2011, 2013, and 2014. Oh yeah, in 2012, they got the 4th pick. I can only imagine, in a Karma-like way, LeBron felt that Gilbert, The Cavs, and their fans have suffered enough.
I also surmise that LeBron had his own motivations for returning home. Sure, his legacy is important, and he felt he owed the fans. But he also has a wife, a mother, and two, soon to be three kids, and their vote and influence was pivotal, I suspect. Also don’t forget his homies in Akron. They have to be thrilled. And now that The King has actually conquered, by winning two Titles, his reign in Cleveland shall resume. So, Thomas Wolfe, take that…“You Can Go Home Again!”
Since apology seems to be the word-of-the-day, I apologize Houston, Chicago, Los Angeles (Lakers and Clippers), Dallas, Charlotte, Phoenix, Washington, and especially MIA. Congratulations Cleveland!
“Highly Seasoned Please; That’s How I’d Like My Crow!” I’m done; holla back!”
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