July 16, 2012; Washington, DC, USA; United States guard LeBron James (6) stands on the court against Brazil in the first half at Verizon Center. Team USA won 80-69. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Doing it Right: LeBron Not the Villain This Time


On July 8th, 2010  LeBron James took his talents to South Beach to join the Miami Heat in hope of winning multiple championships.

However, the way he announced his Free Agency Decision…

…was viewed as despicable by both National media and Cleveland media.

He was deemed a narcissist.

A liar.

A traitor.

A villian.

Most of those descriptions were accurate… but not of LeBron.

They were accurate of the way the decision was made.

Rewatching the footage of fans reacting to the news, I can only imagine being a Cavs fan waiting too hear where your franchise player would go.

Most of the fan reaction was justifiable, (minus the hoping LeBron would never win a  championship, everybody knew that was going to happen eventually), especially the Gentleman at the end who suggested LeBron should have told Cleveland first before saying it on national television.

Nevertheless, my defense of the King is the same today as it was then. He was 25 years old, he was young, and immature and unaware of what the fallout would be from the decision.

In fact, the national decision wasn’t his idea in the first place. It was one of James’ inner circle who came up with the plan,(along with Jim Gray who in turn pitched the idea to espn) and developed it as a  charity event for the Boys and Girls Clubs in which all proceeds would go to them.

LeBron didn’t make a dime off of the decision.

No, the only things he made were the right decisions for his career and enemies out of all of Ohio, save Akron.

Unfortunatley those enemies were on full display that fateful night in 2010.

These particular fans were just an example of the extremists that were torn apart by the decision.

So now here we stand, 4 years later, waiting for the official word of where LeBron is “taking his talents”.  Or keeping his talents for that matter.

Two things are for certain:

1) Miami will not react even remotely close to the way Cleveland did if James decides to leave. This is mainly because LeBron will not make another decision special this time around, he’ll make an announcement eventually on camera, but we will more than likely find out privately first.

and

2) This time around LeBron is not the villain.

In my opinion he wasn’t the villain in 2010 either. Maybe, again, for the way he left, but that’s it. He gave that city 7 years and they were never able to put together a sufficient team to capture an NBA Title.

He poured his heart into that city,

he poured his sweat into that city,

he poured his soul into that city.

And it wasn’t enough. It never is, because a championship can’t be won alone.

Even though to this day people act like Jordan and Kobe played with 4 blind men plus them on their team and took the roster to 6 and 5 NBA titles respectively, the truth of the matter is they had help just like LeBron received in Miami.

The only difference was in 2010 LeBron went with the Free Agents, in Jordan or Kobe’s Era their front offices were more capable of bringing the talent to their cities than Cleveland’s management was for the King.

That’s why LeBron left.

It was never about money or fame or the beaches or the parties.

No. It was about taking himself to an organization that gave him the best chance to capture the championships he so desperately craved.

Oct 30, 2012; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat shooting guard Dwyane Wade (left) – power forward Chris Bosh (center) – small forward LeBron James (right) after receiving their NBA championship rings before a game against the Boston Celtics at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

And that in and of itself is a huge feat for LeBron.

He finally got the monkey off his back, and went around and did it again the next year.

Unforutnatley a three peat was not in the cards, as the Spurs were ready for them on almost every occasion last month, which also destroyed any dream of LeBron opting in and, as a result, put Heat fans in the limbo to which they currently reside.

So, much like 2010, it’s the waiting game.

Similarly to then, the opportunity to win championships is still at the top of the priority list.

However, this time around money is also a major factor, with LeBron requesting a max deal wherever he goes.

This would effectively make James the highest paid player on whichever team he plays for, for the first time in his entire career.

And rightfully so: four straight NBA Finals, two mvps, two Finals mvps, and two NBA Championships since joining Miami.

Jun 20, 2013; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat small forward LeBron James holds the MVP trophy and the Larry O

To say he’s earned a big pay day is an understatement.

I’d be lying to you if I tried to tell you I knew what LeBron was going to do.

But I won’t be surprised by what he does one way or the other.

Both options make sense:

Reload in Miami in hopes of winning more titles with Bosh and Wade.

or

Regroup back home with a young, promising roster built for success down the road.

Either way this time around LeBron is NOT the villain.

He’s going about it the right way this time, and will make his decision in a fair and professional manner.

And if he does decide to return to his hometown of Ohio and return to the place where, in all honesty, the people don’t really deserve him back because of the way they treated him upon his departure and after, then nobody will be able blame him.

Those close to LeBron, and even the King himself have stated before that James has always wanted to win a championship in his hometown. He could be the one to end the drought of decades without a major championship.

It would be a defining moment for the legacy of King James.

If he wins one title the rest of his career, and that title comes in Cleveland, LeBron’s legacy will be purged of all asterisks.

He will have written the wrongs to the Cavs fans that felt betrayed, and accomplished his childhood dream in the process.

Anything is possible, and until we here it officially from LeBron himself, he could be playing overseas next year for all we know.

But one thing is for certain, I am in a debt of gratitude for what he has done since he entered the league 11 years ago.

So LeBron, thank you for 11 seasons of some of the most beautiful, exciting basketball games I’ve ever seen, and thank you for giving Miami four consecutive NBA Finals appearances & two World Championships.

Regardless of where you’re destination takes you, I along with everyone else in the world that is proud to be a LeBron fan will be right there with you every step of the way.

This is a journey that can completely destroy a players image, as you know all too well back in 2010.

However, this time around you’ve done it perfectly and are doing this the right way.

The mature way. The growth that four years brings to an athlete.

In this free agency you are a hero LeBron.

You model yourself in a humble, classy, and respectful lifestyle that sends all the right messages to today’s youth.

We have all been witnesses to this epic transformation and journey over the last four years.

Soon, however, it will be time for new memories to be made.

Now we’ve just gotta wait to ask for the “answer to the question everybody wants to know, LeBron what’s your decision?”

Cleveland or Miami, King James.

Just choose which city you want to save.

You’re still the hero either way.

Mar 18, 2014; Cleveland, OH, USA; Miami Heat forward LeBron James (6) stands under the retired jersey numbers of the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena. Miami won 100-96. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports


Tags: Cleveland Cavaliers Feature Lebron James Miami Heat

  • David Rininger

    It’s an ignorant blanket statement to continue as a writer by saying, “all Cleveland fans treated him poorly”. Just like in any social situation, this is blown completely out of proportion. It was a small number that jeered him, comparative to his overall Cleveland fan base. Same goes for the idiots burning jerseys.

    • disqus_atlq8Zmtsd

      When the owner of the franchise was in the “minority,” it justifies the intent of the generalization.

  • Real M-Fing talk !!!

    If Lebron does NOT return to Cleveland he would be a bigger A-H@!% than he was the first time… he saw what his decision did to the people of that city, and to think he would have the balls to use them to get leverage on the Miami Heat is the lowest form of scum… I am the first to crack on Cleveland because their inferiority complex renders them an easy target, and there’s nothing more delicious than a “low hanging fruit” Ask the media…. being a person who loves watching Lebron play, his actions cannot be defended if he goes back to Miami… Lebron’s camp with his knowledge set things in motion, everything was planned out from day 1, Anyone who believes Lebron can whipe his hands clean of this matter is an idiot… All Lebron had to say at the start or mid way point of free angency is “i am not going back to Cleveland”….. 7 words !!!

    • disqus_atlq8Zmtsd

      Because God forbid he actually consider both places and make a decision after weighing the options!

  • Josh Melton

    Good article, LeBron stop being a villain 2012”