Remember Michael Jordan’s comeback announcement?
LeBron should go with: “LeBack.”
But that’s just me.
In any case, I think a return to Cleveland is happening. There’s just too much Akron smoke. And it just makes too much sense. Irving is so young and so talented and locked up for the long term. Wiggins is even younger and more physically gifted than Irving and will be around for at least the length of his rookie deal. If Wiggins departs any time soon it would only be to add another impact player like Kevin Love, or potentially someone else.
Then I find myself thinking about what LeBron must be considering right now as he weighs the two options.
What if he decides to turn down Cleveland and go back to Miami and the young talent on the Cavs explodes while Wade and Bosh just get older and more worn down? The potential to win a ring for Cleveland – something which I think is LeBron’s ultimate career goal (aside from being GOAT) – is just too strong right now, and if they can swing a trade for Kevin Love it might even happen this next season.
LeBron has done right by Miami. There should be no regrets there on either side. Four straight Finals with back-to-back rings hasn’t been done since the 60’s Celtics and shouldn’t be taken for granted. Miami fans have got to be able to see and understand the desire for James when it comes to reconciliation with his people (Ohioans). It isn’t a bad thing. I would hope that they can find a way to root for his success in Cleveland because it’s a good human story and also because he’s given them a run that most fan bases will never see. Could LeBron have done more in Miami? 5 or 6 straight Finals and another ring? Yes, he could have done that, but doesn’t knowing that make doing it kind of moot?
It’s like what Michael Jordan said in “Rare Air” about chasing records:
I couldn’t care less about winning any more scoring titles or breaking Wilt Chamberlain’s records. I feel good enough about myself just knowing that I could easily break Wilt’s record for consecutive scoring titles. After being the scoring champion for seven of my first nine years, everybody knows that I could do it two or three more times. So it doesn’t matter if I do it or not. People will know what I was capable of doing.
So I think the choice here is obvious. The moment that James started to seriously consider Cleveland as an option was the moment James was going to return to Cleveland. In other words, I don’t see a way he could’ve ever seriously considered a return and then turn it down.
On a less positive note about LeBron (something that is rare here), I have a feeling that James knew he was going to go back to Cleveland before he opted out. Kyrie Irving’s extension probably signaled his return as an inevitability (was Irving’s signing coordinated with James?). I say this because it never made sense to me that LJ would ask Miami to make major moves but also demand max money.
The idea that LeBron was only asking Arison to pay more taxes doesn’t fly because it just wasn’t possible with the way the current CBA is structured. They can’t just spend wildly over the cap whenever they want to, and James (he of Warren Buffet luncheons) is not a stranger to financial particulars, so I’m sure that he was aware of this detail.
So I don’t know who hatched this scheme – probably Rich Paul – but it is kind of brilliant. Think about it:
- LeBron can ask for max money because, obviously, he deserves it. Bosh was making as much as James and contributing far less. No one would raise an eyebrow about LeBron demanding a max salary.
- But LeBron demanding a max salary meant that Wade and Bosh would have to take SIGNIFICANTLY less in order for Miami to improve their roster to something more reliable.
- This put LeBron’s fate in the hands of Wade, Bosh & Riley. Their efforts would determine if James stayed or left. No one would then blame LeBron if he went back home because Miami couldn’t find a way to improve.
And Miami didn’t find a way to significantly improve. Their moves to acquire Granger and McRoberts were mocked. This has led to the groundswell of support for LeBron to go back to Cleveland. I even saw a Bulls fan saying he’d root for LeBron to win a ring in Cleveland because it would be such a heartwarming story!
If this was all part of the plan, then whoever came up with it deserves a bonus or an award because it’s pure manipulative PR genius.