“In the fall I’m going to take my talents to South Beach and join the Miami Heat.”
If you’re a sports fan, that one sentence should ring a bell.
LeBron James changed the NBA landscape single-handedly with his one hour television premier, deemed “The Decision”, where he left the Cleveland Cavaliers to join superstars Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami. In that short span of 60 minutes, he transcended from one of the most liked and appreciated superstars to the most hated man in the game.
Having grown up close to Cleveland in Akron, Ohio, LeBron James was thought of as a prodigy to Clevelanders. He was counted on to deliver Cleveland its first championship in any sport since 1964 when the Cleveland Browns won the 1964 NFL championship. To put that in perspective, that was before the Super Bowl even existed.
When James decided to jump ship and start the new “Super Team” era in the NBA, he was despised and literally hated by Clevelanders and NBA fans across the country. They burned his jersey, cursed him, and never wanted to see him win a title in his NBA career. On his first visit back to Cleveland on December 2nd, 2010, it looked like an NBA Finals game. James was literally booed from the moment he jogged through the tunnel to the moment he stepped off the court. I had never witnessed a regular season game like that one — ever.
Knowing these facts, one would assume LeBron would never, ever be allowed to even think about putting on that jersey for the Cavaliers again. Think again…
Last week, LeBron and the Miami Heat came back from 27-point deficit to defeat the Cleveland Cavaliers, 98-95 and extended their winning streak to 24 games (now 26 after Sunday’s win vs. the Charlotte Bobcats).
Only this time, there were even cheers and some went as far as to let him know their desires for him come back to play (via posters) for the Cavaliers when he could become a free agent in 2014.
There has been chatter already starting about the possibilities of “The King” taking his talents back to Cleveland and rejoining the Cavaliers in 2014. Cleveland has done a great job adding young talent to their roster through the draft since the departure of James. LeBron is a big fan of young All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving and ever improving big man Tristan Thompson.
The question is, can LeBron leave his best friend Dwyane Wade and arguably the best general manager in the game, Pat Riley, who helped him win that first championship. By 2014, Wade will be 33 years old with arguably his best and prime playing years behind him. By then, the Cavaliers young talent will be more experienced and improved, leading many to believe LeBron won’t have to carry the team by himself as were his first 7 years in Cleveland.
There could be some other factors that could ultimately decide LeBron’s decision for him. The Heat could possibly be on a 3-Peat by the time he is set to become a free agent. That would be an extremely difficult thing to do — packing up and leaving when your team has won the last 3 titles. LeBron is very comfortable in Miami and has finally reached the point where his confidence in himself and his game is obvious. You know Pat Riley is going to continue to entice LeBron to sign with the Heat in 2014 and beyond, by infusing more vital talent that will only help add more rings to LeBron’s jewelry box. One thing is for certain, it is going to be yet another tough decision.
Does he want to continue to cement his legacy further in Miami, or is his next thought and challenge to win a championship and earn redemption in the sports town he was once vilified?
That might be too much to pass up.
“The Decision 2.0” and the preceding events are going to be fun and interesting to watch.