If I had to pick one word to describe my reaction to LeBron James signing with the Cavs, that would be it. I had been refreshing Twitter like a maniac for the last few days, and it reached its breaking point on Thursday night. I know site editor Zak Kolesar and I shared the same feeling about how disappointing this whole experience had been. Not that we thought LeBron would come back or stay in Miami, but the way the media had been trying to read into every little aspect of what LeBron was doing. It was ridiculous, and it certainly reflected poorly on both the media and fans. LeBron hadn’t said a word since opting out, and here we were trying to figure out if his website was being updated to reflect Cleveland’s colors. Here we were (I was) tweeting about Mickey Arison favoriting a ridiculous Broussard tweet at midnight (central time). Ridiculous is really the only word that accurately describes the events of the last two weeks.
With all that fresh in my mind, I was on Twitter yet again Friday morning, waiting for news. At this point, we all knew he had to make a decision, and all the “rumors” had been suggesting he would return to Cleveland. Still, being the pessimistic fan that I am, I refused to believe he would actually leave Miami. About an hour before it was announced, I was texting with a friend of mine who suggested that maybe what has happened to Cleveland the last four years, and the way LeBron left, has weighed on James’ mind. I disagreed, falling back on the experience of four years ago. LeBron is going to do what is best for himself on the basketball court. That’s what he did leaving for Miami four years ago, and surely, that’s what he would do now. I wrote as much in my profile of James two weeks ago. What I failed to consider, and what my friend kept coming back to, is that LeBron is no longer that person. LeBron will be 30 in December. He has a wife and, soon to be, three kids. They are from the area. He’s from the area. He was no longer making this decision for himself. And that’s what made the actual announcement brilliant.
It was around 11:30 a.m. central time when I refreshed Twitter again. This time, there was LeBron’s picture with the words “I’m Coming Home” underneath it. It was finally over. Unfortunately, I was unable to read the letter for another 30 minutes, but when I did? Wow. Many others have discussed in detail, and I really can’t find the words to describe it, so I’ll leave it at that. Still, the one feeling I can’t shake from all of this is that fans and the media need to step back and take a long, hard look at themselves. We take these athletes, and we build them up. We project our thoughts and feelings onto them and try to twist everything they say and every action they take into our view of them. At the end of the day, LeBron was not callous villain, as everyone wanted to believe in 2010. He was a guy looking out for his own interests. Nothing more, nothing less.
LeBron referred to his years in Miami as his college years, and I don’t think anyone could have said it better than the man himself. Reading the letter, one could easily say “LeBron has grown. He’s learned.” But truth be told, I have no idea if that’s true, and neither does anyone else. I think we’re past the point of trying to figure out what LeBron is or isn’t. We all need to just sit back and enjoy LeBron, the basketball player. LeBron, the person, can figure out things on his own. If there is one thing I take away from the letter, it is this: “But this is not about the roster or the organization. I feel my calling here goes above basketball.” It turns out that LeBron is just like the rest of us. Home is, and will always be, home.