If the Miami Heat are bitter at LeBron James for leaving the team and heading back to the Cleveland Cavaliers this summer, they sure aren’t making that known publicly. Heat president Pat Riley and owner Micky Arison had previously shown gratitude to LeBron for his four years with the Heat and now head coach Erik Spoelstra is doing the same.
From Shandel Richardson of the South Florida Sun Sentinel:
“He seemed at peace with the decision,” Spoelstra said. “We don’t have any regrets. He shouldn’t have any regrets. It was a historic four-year run.”
“This league does teach you that it’s inevitable that there’s constant change and you always have to continue to embrace change, adapt with change,” Spoelstra said. “This is a big, monumental change that we didn’t necessarily anticipate but you have to respect it because when you’re a free agent in this league you have the right to make a decision that’s best for you and your family. When he made that decision that was best for his family, where his heart is, all you can do from our side is respond with respect and love.”
There are likely a couple of things at play here, in regards to all the praising of James from the Heat’s decision makers. First of all, they, and understandably so, are in all likelihood actually grateful for LeBron helping the franchise reach new heights throughout his time with the team.
Second of all, it makes a lot of sense from Miami’s perspective to not look like they are handling James’ leaving as poorly as Cleveland did four years ago. The Heat will have the financial flexibility to make a play at some major free agents in 2016 (Kevin Durant is among those that will be available then) and the Heat wants to push forward their reputation that they always treat players well.
All this love for James seems genuine, but it’s also smart business.