LeBron James, among many NBA superstars, will be a free agent after this upcoming 2013-2014 season. As expected, a myriad of teams will be in pursuit of James including the Lakers according to several reports. The Cleveland Cavaliers have been a whispered suitor for months now and the acquisition of Andrew Bynum just adds to the attractiveness of LeBron returning home–for those who believe that.
What I find funny is how success can ignite so much amnesia. I certainly don’t have a crystal ball but I don’t need one to tell me that LeBron James will not return to Cleveland as a member of the Cavaliers next summer.
1.The Management: Have we all forgotten about Dan Gilbert’s classless and public letter that he wrote about LeBron after his decision to join the Heat? LeBron spent 7 years making the city of Cleveland and the Cleveland Cavaliers franchise an unspeakable amount of money to be thanked like that? Of course on-court relationships are important but a front office relationship can surely be a deal breaker for a player who would be potentially retiring in that city. The comfort level of a player has more to do with their sustained overall performance than may be taken into account. When comparing playing for an owner that can’t maturely respect a players decision to change teams and a playing for an organization that took out a full-page newspaper ad to thank a player that they waived, is there really a comparison?
2. The Motivation: James is on record saying himself “I came here [Miami] to compete for a championship each and every year.” Has he not done that thus far? Regardless of if the Heat make a fourth consecutive Finals appearance this year or not, James has a whole portfolio of growth and success with Miami to look back over. Point taken that the Cavaliers are likely a playoff team now with the acquisitions they’ve made this summer. The question is do they have enough to add James back in the mix and then give him his best chance to get three or more additional championships before retirement? Anything is possible but it surely isn’t foreseeable.
3.The Mark: It seems like a distant memory now but it was only 3 years ago that Cleveland fans were days outside of burning LeBron James jerseys, blasting him on social networks and tearing down billboards. He easily became the most scrutinized player in the NBA history. In Miami, now that he has publicly failed then succeeded, he has re-branded and reestablished himself in the good graces of NBA fans. James never liked being the public enemy but the crown fit. His legacy would take another hit if he switched teams then possibly making him look disloyal and disingenuous. That’s not the mark he wants to leave and to have to bare that burden of extreme criticism yet again by going back to the place that he came from just doesn’t seem logical.
The Miami Heat might not be the roster that has LeBron James’ name listed on it on the night of his last game but it definitely won’t be that of the Cleveland Cavaliers either.