Guest-writer Tony Garcia returns today with an opinion on LeBron James' controversial return to Cleveland. Here's Tony...
Does anyone NOT know absolutely everything they need to know about LeBron James at this point? If you turned on a TV in the last couple of weeks, you will have certainly seen something related to LeBron James and his decision to re-join the Cleveland Cavaliers after four successful years with the Miami Heat. Yes, I did say successful. Maybe it wasn’t as successful as the Heat originally thought it would be, but it was still successful nonetheless. I guess it just goes to show that you can’t have championship celebrations and a parade before you actually play a game of basketball. Games are never played on paper and the Heat certainly learned that the hard way, going up against and losing to teams that play a team game first. But two championships is better than zero by my math and for that reason, I believe the Heat were an overall success.
But that Heat team will be a shadow of their former selves without the unquestioned best player in basketball right now. The “Big 3” all opted out of their contracts and seemed to seek greener pastures via NBA free agency. The big domino to fall was LeBron. When he opted out of his contract, it was believed that Pat Riley possibly would be using his magic hair gel to woo Carmelo Anthony, the other big name in this years free agent class, to join the Big 3 down in Miami and just crush anyone that dared to walk on the court against the Heat.
Luckily for the sake of the NBA, things always boil down to money. And in order for Anthony to join LeBron, Wade and Bosh down south ALL of those guys would’ve had to take drastic pay cuts just to be on the same team. Finally, personal greed and the want of millions of dollars prevailed over the thought of winning multiple championships. Phew.
So the big 3 are broken up. And let’s face it, the only reason they were considered a big 3 was because of the biggest fish of them all, LeBron James. The last time James was a free agent was back in 2010, right before he decided to take his talents to South Beach. You remember the ratings monster live interview with Jim Gray that pissed so many people off? Yeah, that wasn’t gonna happen this time. In fact, it was actually the opposite. James took his dear sweet time, allowing ESPN to truly cash in and milk every single minute out of this decision that will impact so many lives. People couldn’t live another day without their daily dose of LeBron Watch.
Days passed and small time free agents were signing deals but all teams were waiting for the big domino to fall and that was LeBron James. Clevelanders lined the streets of Akron, OH outside of LeBron’s palatial estate waiting for white smoke to arise from one of his six chimneys. Nights passed and only black smoke arose. The twitter-verse was going bananas with speculation. Pictures of moving trucks lining the street of LeBron’s South Beach home surfaced on the internet. One insider spotted LeBron eating the letters F & L out of his Alphabet Soup. It was an uncanny event with speculation running rampant. Even Brian Fantana was spotted outside of Cleveland Cavaliers headquarters!
Then, like something out of the bible or some work of strange fiction, a most un-likely hero emerged to break the news of where LeBron was going to play basketball for the foreseeable future. Print Media! Well, not really. It was posted on the internet still but Sports Illustrated was first to report the evidence of LeBron signing back with his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers. Some were still skeptical that a magazine could still break some big news these days. Seriously Sports Illustrated, who are you sources? The masses demand you show your proof!
SI: Our source is... LeBron James!
People: No way! He’s not a reliable source... wait... what? You know him?
SI: Yeah, he wrote us this letter yesterday. Check it out.
Some would say, myself included, that THIS free agency period would’ve made a great TV show. The drama of everything just seemed like a made for TV, can’t-miss hit. Toss out that snoozefest of 2010 with Jim Gray where LeBron announced his decision on live TV on some washed up old gym floor. This was a week-long tease for the masses that concluded with an organic and heartfelt essay written by the man himself.
All joking aside, If you take a look at the actual essay that James wrote, you’ll find a lot of substance in there. I don’t know if we’ve ever had a confession, written or otherwise, from as high a profile athlete that displays the passion and will to succeed in a place that he truly loves, his hometown of Cleveland/Akron. There is a humility and sincerity in his words that ring true through anyone that has loved a place they call home. I had to re-read the article to make sure he was talking about Cleveland, OH. Not even the founder of Cleveland ever spoke such high praise of that city. LeBron also talks about his regret for leaving the city in the first place and how tough of a decision that was on him and his family. But now he’s back home.
LeBron isn’t just returning home in physical form. Going back to Cleveland and writing his letter is just the beginning of his damage control on his own image and public approval rating. Sure, all six Heat fans in South Beach are burning their LeBron jerseys. But the rest of Miami is clueless to what happened. They’ll find out LeBron left the team the first time the Cavaliers stroll into town. Then they’ll collectively shrug their shoulders and go back to hanging out on the beach and not caring about sports. In Cleveland, they’re trying to un-burn the jerseys they burnt in 2010. A lot of people don’t understand the midwest sports town psyche. Sports are everything and the city of Cleveland is a passionate fan base and no exception.
As far as basketball goes, of course this is a good move. It’s never a bad thing to have the best player on your team. I expect Cleveland will compete in the weak Eastern Conference starting immediately. If you’re a gambling man, let’s just look at it this way. Before the NBA free agency period started, the Cavaliers were at one point 75:1 odds to win the title. By the time LeBron James signed with the team, they were down to 4:1. Huge impact? Heck yes. As always there will be teams like the Chicago Bulls and Indiana Pacers vying to dethrone LeBron with their heart and grit strategies that never work. For the first time in 4 years, Cleveland can laugh at those jokers and say “bring it”. The king has returned.