Jun 24, 2013; Miami, FL, USA; Fans cheer while holding mask with the image of LeBron James during the Miami Heat Championship celebration parade in downtown Miami. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

Do You Really Want LeBron Back?

What if the love of your life ran away with someone else, after spending a couple of years planning it, and all the while living with you and claiming to have your best interests at heart? Would you really want this person back in your life? If your dog one day bit you for no apparent reason, how likely would you be to reach down to pet it again?

These are analogies that Cleveland fans will have to ask themselves in 2014 should LeBron James opt out of the Miami Heat contract he signed back in July of 2010. There is a lot of talk these days of the Cavs keeping cap space available should LeBron become available next summer and wanting to return home. However, most people assume that Cleveland should just take him back with open arms. I say that Cavs fans should take a walk down memory lane before being so willing to forgive and forget.

My biggest problem with LeBron James is the manner in which he ditched the Cavs and his fans. The Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Brian Windhorst reported on July 10, 2010 that during a rally for Miami Heat fans, Chris Bosh said he had been talking with new teammates LeBron James and Dwyane Wade about the moment they were united in Miami for months.

The premise that the trio had been talking about teaming up for months hinted there was a plan in place. That potentially would be against rules, and should have raised concerns from the league since Bosh and James were playing for teams battling for the playoffs in Toronto and Cleveland respectively. But it appears the trio had been discussing a complex master plan for parts of the previous four years.

In July of 2006, they gathered in Las Vegas for Team USA’s preparation for the World Championships. It was there that they came across the idea that if each of them extended their contracts for three years, they could all become unrestricted free agents simultaneously in 2010. The three had already won a gold medal in China in 2008, proving that they could play effectively together. From this point on, the plan was in motion. A conspiracy of NBA superstars would be deciding the league’s fate from here on out, and the league was powerless to do anything about it. Now if the NBA owners had started colluding to affect the flow of free agent movement, they would have been hit with a law suit faster than you can say David Stern.

What didn’t sit right with me was King James final playoff series in a Cavs uniform, the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals against the Boston Celtics. The Cavs jumped out to a two game to one lead on Boston. I can just picture Wade and Bosh calling or texting LBJ after the Cavs went up 2-1 saying, “Dude, what are you doing?!” It was as if a bell sounded, reminding LeBron that if they were to win and continue further into the finals, his excuse for leaving the Cavs wouldn’t hold water. The plan was for LeBron to claim that he had to leave Cleveland in order to win a championship.

The Cavs lost the next three games, with LeBron disappearing for long stretches. Complaining of a sore arm going into the series, LeBron continued to shoot bricks from long range. Now if my arm hurt, I wouldn’t be pumping it up from downtown. I’d be taking the ball to the hoop, which is what he finally decided to do in game six, once the Cavs were comfortably down three games to two. Some of you will point out that in game six, LeBron put up a triple double, but he also incurred nine turnovers pretty much negating the ten assists.

Once the playoffs ended, the free agency period commenced with LeBron non-committal about what he would decide. He did try to recruit Bosh to come to Cleveland, but Bosh was having none of it, sticking to the original plan of partying in South Beach, while paying no state tax. I now see this as just an elaborate ruse. Recruiting Bosh was just for show, so that when decision time came, James could say, “look, I even tried to personally recruit some all-stars, but no one wants to come to Cleveland.” It also led credence to LeBron’s claims that in order to win a championship, he’d have to leave.

The free agency period went as expected with teams quickly sweeping up the best players available. Meanwhile, the Cavs were forced to wait while LeBron conducted his dog and pony show, going thru the motions interviewing with several other teams. By the time he was ready to announce his decision, the best players down to the most mediocre were already committed to other teams, while all the Cavs could do was wait. I will never forgive James for not just telling the team he was gone, so they could have at least tried to explore other options on the free agent market.

This brings us to perhaps the most painful moment in Cleveland sports history, July 8, 2010. I hurt when Art Modell sold us out for a few dollars more in Baltimore. It really hurt watching Manny sign with the Red Sox after the Tribe made a competitive offer. But “The Decision” of watching LeBron James drag out his choice and the rationalization for it, just plain cut Cavs fans to their very soul. Thirty minutes into the program LeBron delivered the following statement:
“I’m going to take my talents to South Beach and join the Miami Heat. I feel like it’s going to give me the best opportunity to win and to win for multiple years, and not only just to win in the regular season or just to win five games in a row or three games in a row, I want to be able to win championships. And I feel like I can compete down there.”

This was our native son, telling us that we were no longer good enough for him. It was our native son further propagating the myths that Cleveland can’t win championships or attract free agents. That he had to leave if he ever hoped that a championship ring would grace his finger. Not only had he selfishly conspired with Wade and Bosh to leave, but here he was telling the world that they had been right all along. Don’t come to Cleveland if you want to win!!!

Right here, you might say that LeBron had given us seven good seasons and two MVP years, and that as a free agent, he had the right to play where he wanted, with whomever he wanted. You are absolutely correct. It is just that he didn’t have to beat Cleveland up on his way out the door! A simple, I have decided to play for Miami, would have been sufficient. This guy sat there in that director’s chair for the next 45 minutes telling the 10 million people tuning in that he had to escape “Loserville” before he was too old to win a ring! The Decision joined The Move, The Drive, The Shot, and The Fumble in “Cleveland’s sports hall of shame”.

You certainly have the right to your opinion, but for me, I don’t want LeBron James to return to the Cavs. In my book, the guy is a traitor. The Cavs were gaining momentum and were very much a force in the playoff picture when he left. The last thing I want to see is him returning so he can smooth things over with his home town fans and retire a Cav. Right now, the Cavs are putting together a pretty good team. They are going to win, regardless of where LeBron James plays. It just seems fitting for him to be on the outside with his nose pressed up against the glass looking in.

Tags: Cleveland Cavaliers Lebron James Miami Heat

  • TJW

    Lol. LeBron James WAS the momentum and has WAS the force. The Cavs were nothing without him and he was right to leave. Best decision he ever made. 2 rings, 2 Finals MVPs, 2 MVPs, oh and millions raised for charity in his much-demonized Decision show. Only a fool wouldn’t want THE BEST PLAYER IN THE WORLD, the most unselfish superstar on the court we’ve seen in some time, back.

    • Dissatisfied

      And you forgive this guy for what he did in leaving? Like the article says, LBJ could have simply said “I am playing for Miami next season” and shut up, but he rambled on for an hour and a half telling the world that you can’t win championships in Cleveland and that free agents won’t come here. He hurt the city, the team and the fans. You can forgive this, simply because he has skills? To make matters worse, he is one of our own, out there kicking Cleveland in the nuts! Only a tool would take the approach that you are taking, dude!

      • TJW

        If you think he did it to humiliate Cleveland, you have incredibly poor comprehension skills. It was a mistake to do it the way he did it. He admitted as much. It’s not the end of the world. It was not genocide. It was not rape. It was not evil. He raised millions of dollars for at-risk youth in doing so. Get over yourself and grow up.

        • Dan Pilar

          He did “The Decision” to flaunt his power and prove how much he impacts the NBA. Yeah the money went to charity, but that wasn’t the reason why he did the show. Can imagine other superstars doing that? Kobe, CP3, D Rose. None of those guys would do that. His decision was the right decision, but to throw it in the faces of cleveland, C’Mon man! Of course I’ll take him back…but it will only be appropriate if he came back the same way he left. For the entire country to see.

  • Steev Richter

    here’s the bottom line:

    we are putting together a very impressive young team. a team that should end up being a perennial playoff team. a team that, as the league and players are structured right now, has almost no chance at all of ever winning a championship. one of the biggest reasons that that is the case is because of lebron james. he’s just that good that he’s one of those rare “him against the field” picks to win the championship for the foreseeable future. without him we have, in my opinion even though i wish it were otherwise, almost no chance to win it all. however, with him we have almost no chance not to in the coming years. he’s just that good.

    this is not a relationship. if he were a woman then i would never forgive him or want to see him again. there are other women. this is sports. this is basketball. there is only one lebron james and he more than likely does hold the key for the potential of future happiness. i know that i will not simply be happy to have a good showing in the playoffs. none of us will be happy with that for long. we weren’t when we put all that pressure on lebron all those years he was with us before. we certainly didn’t say “hey, that was a great effort and a great season” after the orlando series or that boston series. we called for his head. i know that, as much as right now i can convince myself that all i want is to make the playoffs, that is a lie. once it happens i won’t be content. a deep run in the playoffs? nope. been there. i will only be happy when we finally hoist that trophy and walk off that last game of the entire season as winners.

    i’m a cleveland fan across the board. i’m 35. i have no idea what a championship feels like. it’s been 64 years without an nba championship, world series or super bowl. if you would like to hold a grudge against the greatest player in the world to the point that you would throw the chance of that changing out the window then you are no cleveland fan. if i had to be a butler for john elway AND kiss art modell’s grave to see a champoinship in cleveland i think i would do it. lebron destroyed me a few years back with “the decision”. that night is a blur. i have not forgotten. however, to me, this is much, much bigger than that. if he wants to come back we have to take him and we have to love it… all for the greater good.

  • EllaysOn

    I just need to say this…..this is basketball….this is a sport…..this is not my love life and the decision certainly wasn’t a catalysis to make me want to jump off the I-480 bridge !!!
    As a Cavalier fan……LeBron James would be welcomed back to Cleveland…..with open arms !!!

  • EllaysOn

    LeBron…..and Kyrie….with Bynum clogging it up in the middle…..and Dion exploding to the basket……man…..let the excitement begin !!!

  • leah

    I don’t necessarily want him, I want him out of Miami