Wednesday, July 16, 2014
This past Friday was a day for bad sports cliches like "Return of the King" or "The Prodigal Son Returns." It was also a day for sappy videos.
Last Thursday featured the deletion of a hastily written, "in the heat of the moment" breakup letter. But Friday was all about a well-written and classy "let's get back together" letter. Unless you live under a rock, you know all of this means LeBron James decided Friday to return home to Ohio and rejoin the Cleveland Cavaliers.
James spent the last four seasons going to four straight NBA Finals and winning two of them with the Miami Heat. He decided to return home after losing the 2014 NBA Finals in five games to the San Antonio Spurs.
Nothing is wrong with James going home. At some point, almost everyone wants to go home and see if things could be as they used to be. The reality might be that James knows he will never be a part of NBA history the same way Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Larry Bird or Magic Johnson are. James doesn't have the same killer take-a-game-over instinct those players had in their careers.
James—no question about it—is one of the best players in the NBA. But he tends to disappear in big games and at times when his team needs him the most. He can fill up a stat sheet, but the final stats don't matter; it's those stats in the course of the game that count.
Going back to Cleveland means giving up on chasing Jordan for the title of "Greatest Player in NBA History" and building a different type of legacy. It means delivering a championship for the most championship-starved professional sports city in America. The city of Cleveland winning a championship in any sport would be like the Chicago Cubs finally winning the World Series.
James can be the man who finally gave this city what it craves the most, after years and years of having its heart stomped on. He can be the savior of a city. That is something few athletes for any city can say if he wins a title in Cleveland. It would be a different but great legacy.