Oct 29, 2013; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat small forward LeBron James (6) celebrates receiving his NBA championship ring before a game against the Chicago Bulls at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

A Thank You To LeBron James

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Dear LeBron,

We got your letter.

You’re leaving us. You’re leaving the Miami Heat.

It’s disappointing to hear about your decision. It’s taken a while to process all of this. We went from being the kings of the world, to scrambling to pick up the pieces. You can imagine how hard this will be. Then again, you already know. This happened back in 2010.

We really thought we had a great connection. We embraced you, when everyone turned their backs on you. We defended you, when everyone tried to bring you down. “Us against the world”? We were the embodiment of that.

Where did our relationship go wrong, though? Was it Dwyane Wade, the man who gave you the keys to his kingdom, whose body couldn’t keep up with his mind’s desire to do so? Was it Pat Riley, who couldn’t surround you with the young, hungry talent that you have surrounding you in Cleveland? Was it that you felt that you were playing 1-on-5 against the Spurs, that you lost faith in the plan?

Or are you afraid of having to fight to reclaim your throne? A dynasty was only three wins away. To be spoken in the same breath as the greats of the game should have been enough to drive you. Instead, you tucked your tail and ran, unwillingly to do what it takes to climb the mountain again.

No, that’s not it. We know that. We’re just hurt. Truth is, you can’t argue against going home. Family is the most important thing, and that is something we can all appreciate. You just got married, have two sons, and have a daughter on the way. It’s only right for them to gain a greater love for where you came from. The feeling seems to be that you might have gone back, even if the Heat had beaten San Antonio.

Because Ohio is home, and home is where the heart is.

You also have a chance to be a bigger symbol to the people of the place where you grew up. That’s something that can’t be denied. No matter how much it hurts us, we understand. We hear so much about how the great players needing to go to New York or Los Angeles to become global icons. That’s stupid, considering we live in the Social Media age. Kevin Durant is as easily accessible to the common person while in Oklahoma City, as Carmelo Anthony is in New York.

But for you, LeBron, being a global icon is meaningless, if your hometown is still feeling betrayed. They needed their hero. Now you can be, again. There’s really no better feeling than that, is there? The chance to inspire a community, while giving hope to a downtrodden fanbase looking for the ultimate glory.

However, just know that this is hard for us. You gave us something that we haven’t really had in comparison to the rest of America’s sports landscape: an identity.

For too long, we were saddled with a football franchise that had a sense of entitlement, living off the glory from the achievements of 40 years ago. Or a baseball team that only grabs the spotlight when they’re shipping players away.

But the Heat? A generation grew up with them. We saw them battle Michael Jordan in the playoffs, four seasons into their existence. Or took the battle to transplanted New Yorkers, during the late 90’s. We watched time and time again as management put continuous efforts to build a champion, then bathed in the glory that was 2006. This team belongs to us, contrary to what we’re going to hear over the next few weeks.

We were the fans everyone hated. We didn’t belong in the “Old Boy’s Club”, like New York/Chicago/Boston/L.A., who bestowed upon themselves the crown of great sports towns. We weren’t invited to the basketball royalty party, so we kicked down the door and turned the volume of the music up to 11. We rose up against the ridicule and noise that came from those that feared what they perceived as different. So they took their shots – whether it was us arriving late/leaving early, or having DJ’s at our games. We didn’t care. We’re Heat fans. Anybody that doesn’t like that can stick it.

But your decision hurts us. However, we’re going to get back up. That’s what this franchise does, and that is what this fanbase will do. That is our identity that you helped us get: fighting the establishment. America will count us out, and laugh at our perceived demise; we’ll have the last laugh. Riley and Micky Arison have always been dedicated to building a winner. We trust in them.

So thank you, LeBron, for these last four years. It has been an amazing ride. This truly was the most fun we’ve had watching sports in South Florida. You helped us feel great to be a Heat fan. That’s something that can never be taken away from us. You belonged to us. Now, you belong to them. They should be grateful.

Just know, we’ll still be here. Dwyane and Chris Bosh are coming back. Reinforcements seem to be on the way. We may not be the automatic championship contender that we were the last four years, but we’re not going to roll over, either. We’re going to fight, and we will dare you to take us out. Because we’re proud of this franchise. We will stand by it.

Thank you, again, for everything. No matter the decision you made, you’ll always be one of us.

See you in the playoffs.

Sincerely,

Heat Nation

 

 

 

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