The Discussion: Possibility of LeBron James returning to Cleveland

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Dec 25, 2011; Dallas, TX, USA; Miami Heat small forward LeBron James (6) looks down while facing the Dallas Mavericks during the fourth quarter at the American Airlines Center. The Heat defeated the Mavericks 105-94. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

And that about catches us up with all the news that circulated around the LeBron-Cleveland rumors. Some interesting stuff here, but still, these are just thoughts for now. A lot has to go into James’ decision to even opt out of his contract. According to Danny Poutz, “I don’t see it happening, considering the Heat will probably win…three straight titles.” This is the first and most important thought to consider. Even though Dwyane Wade (31) and Chris Bosh (28) are starting to show their age (James is 28 as well), LeBron should have no motive to leave Miami if he sees that his team still has the best chance to win a championship. Once he sees that there are other destinations for him that offer younger, brighter stars, you can bet that he’ll bolt there as soon as possible.

Let’s rewind a bit before we go on with some of the other arguments that were posed to me. Remember the last image of LeBron in a Cavalier uniform? If you don’t, here it is:

Two things to take away from this video: 1. James taking his jersey off and throwing it, upon entering the locker room, in disgust and 2. The end of LeBron donning the same No. 23 that Michael Jordan wore as a Chicago Bull. The reasons for him wearing No. 6 in Miami had to do with Julius Erving being his second-favorite player, his first son was born on October 6, his second son was born in June, he wore the same number while playing on Team USA and he wants every player to “retire” Jordan’s No. 23 out of respect for what he did for the game.

The last reason doesn’t sit well for me, and I’m glad someone (Ethan Symonds) brought it up:

Michael Jordan stuck it out in Chicago for six seasons before they finally won a championship, and then stayed on for seven more seasons (with another 5 championships). LeBron gave up and went somewhere else.

I think James couldn’t take being compared to Jordan. He couldn’t take being compared to a player who had won six championships in his career. He didn’t have one by the same time Jordan did, so he panicked. He found a scapegoat in Miami in playing next to two other superstars; an almost “sure” championship would ensue, right? Although it took one more season, a year fueled by rage, than he anticipated, he got his ring. That pressure is now off his shoulders, so that increases his chances of returning to Cleveland and finally delivering us that long-awaited first title.

LeBron wanted to create his own brand of player, and he was finally able to do that in Miami. He reinvented himself, and working Hakeem Olajuwon seemed to aid him in that mission. Let’s move on from the MJ comparison and return to a quote from earlier in the timeline: “If I decide to come back, hopefully the fans will accept me.”

John Petrenko says, “He needs to be liked by everyone. He personally cannot stand feeling ‘shunned.’” This may have been the case at first, but I think after losing in the Finals in his first season with the Heat, enduring the boos from across the country and winning an MVP last season really helped him block out the negativity in my opinion. It’s a fact that everyone won’t take him back with arms wide open if he were to return, and LeBron knows that. I think the majority of fans, people who are getting sick of the team’s current losing state, would jump at the opportunity of greeting him back in Cleveland. LeBron will be facing scrutiny and challenges wherever he goes, and I think that he’s at that point in his career where he wants to test himself in the toughest way possible.

Feb 17, 2012; Cleveland, OH, USA; Miami Heat small forward LeBron James (6) holds the ball in front of Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving (2) in the third quarte at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

James wants to challenge himself because he is one of the greatest athletes on the planet right now. That’s what guys like him want to do, or else they become bored with their work. Take Bryan Biedron’s response for example:

I was mad at him for a year. However, if you watch him play, he has grown so much as an athlete and an overall basketball player that he is by far the best basketball player on the planet. If he wants to come to our team, how can you possibly say no to that? Him and Kyrie Irving together could be deadly, and I would accept any move made by any team in Cleveland if it brings us a championship.

Cleveland fans want A championship; there is no arguing that. So if LeBron returned to Cleveland, he would instantly put the Cavaliers back into title contention. Honestly, I don’t see a situation in the NBA that James wouldn’t catapult a unit into championship talk. With that said, the Cavaliers aren’t really a “sexy” option right now for LeBron. They traded picks and picked up affordable free agent options all while James was on the team. The team isn’t ready yet to entice him into playing here, but Cleveland is not about to sit idly by next season in hopes that he will come here.

Hiroki Witt said, “No matter how bad you hate him for leaving, how many more 20-30 win seasons do you want to endure under poor drafting and overall team management? I really think people are deluding themselves about the ‘potential’ of guys like (Tristan) Thompson and (Dion) Waiters – guys whose numbers really don’t show how little of an impact they’re having.”

We went more in depth with our discussion over messaging, but we both came to agreement that the way the team was managed under LeBron wasn’t done in the correct light. Why should he have stayed? He brought up whiffing on signing guys Ray Allen and Michael Redd – instead we settled on Shaquille O’Neal and Antawn Jamison. Again, Cleveland can’t use next season as a way to ready themselves for the possible second Homecoming of LeBron. Make some offseason moves, draft well, and if the chips are in the right place, make your pitch to LeBron in 2014. We can’t let LeBron dictate our team again when he isn’t even in a Wine and Gold uniform.

Before I close, I have one last point I want to bring up. Remember that giant “We Are All Witnesses” Nike poster (I’m sure that Gilbert has it rolled up somewhere in his Fathead lair)? The poster, which was on the side of the Sherwin Williams Co.’s world headquarters, was replaced by another giant banner of the city that reads, “Our Home Since 1866: Our Pride Forever.” That’s a pretty strong message for the emblem replacing a player who was once adored by all of northeastern Ohio. T.J. MacIvor said, “LeBron back in Cleveland makes us look like a bigger joke as a city. He played us once, never again.”

Cleveland is a pride-filled city, no questions there. LeBron returning would definitely irk people, especially those who are most indebted to the city. There are fans that scoff at the idea of James returning due to the way he left us, and there are those who wouldn’t mind having the reigning MVP back in a Cleveland uniform due to his athletic talents. The fans don’t run they team, but they have a powerful voice. That’s why I write for a website such as this one. No matter what happens, we can express our opinions however we like. We’re not always going to be for the decisions that our beloved teams make, which makes this is the perfect style of debate for fans to have. We put so much into cheering for the Cavaliers, so seeing a player like LeBron leave definitely stung, and still stings for many.

For me, I would without a doubt accept a player like LeBron back. However, I do not think he will return. I want the Cavaliers to keep on moving forward, and I think that if they planned for his return during the 2013-14 season, we would be taking a step backward in that department

Thanks again for those who participated in this “experiment.” I will try to incorporate stories like this more often. Below, make sure to leave your comments and vote in our poll on the home page concerning the possibility of LeBron’s return to Cleveland.


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