Thursday, June 26, 2014

Prodigal Son

Real talk: I fully believe that LeBron James will sign with the Cleveland Cavaliers in free agency. This is not a sports-superstition attempt at a reverse-jinx, nor is it a Heat fan's defensive acceptance measure; I am 99.9% sure that LeBron will return to Cleveland this off-season*. If I'm wrong, cool. But I don't think I am.

And you know what? If I'm right, that's also cool.

I have enjoyed watching LeBron James play basketball for my favorite team for 4 years, for 2 NBA championships, and for 4 straight Finals appearances. He is unequivocally the best player on the planet, and it has been a pleasure to see him progress as a player and as a person during that time. Hopefully he re-signs and the Heat organization can make adjustments to their bench, sign some important role players**, and give it another go, but that doesn't seem to be the narrative, at least to my precognitive basketball brain.

LeBron James wants to be liked. That sentence is a tautology, of course, because who doesn't? But factor in the vitriol he received after leaving Cleveland, the absolute social-media holy war he's endured-- 2 titles made it go away; another Finals loss brought it back somewhat -- during this stint with the Heat, and it's not hard to see how the best player in the game, the most self-aware player in the game, wouldn't try to right the ship of how he is perceived.

Again, I'd be totally fine with that. Everyone likes a redemption story (although LeBron doesn't need one; he's already had two). But a return to Cleveland would make everything better -- at least initially -- for a disenfranchised franchise. This...this would be the narrative to truly seal an already secure legacy.

I won't be writing any angry Comic Sans letters to the guy if he doesn't return. I have so many good memories of this run. If he stays, great; if he returns to Cleveland, also great. My focus next season will be on the Heat, but if LeBron is in Cleveland, I'll save some League Pass room for dessert.

But if Bosh leaves I'm taking Aubrey Plaza hostage.

* Occam's Razor

** or Carmelo Anthony, which I'm not 100% ruling out, despite how pie-in-the-sky it is and how much I worry about how that experiment would probably take more than a full season and playoffs to work out in terms of cohesion.

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