After weeks of speculations and rumors and sources, LeBron James announced today that he is “coming back to Cleveland,” and he did it with a letter.
You have to appreciate the synchronicity. You have to admire the irony. You have to value the fact that LeBron James chose the same medium in which the Cavs’ owner Dan Gilbert used to roast James when he left the Cavaliers four years ago…a letter.
The Decision…is gone.
So much stands out in what LeBron said in his letter, but nothing stood out more to me then what he said about how he left, and about Gilbert’s letter.
To make the move I needed the support of my wife and my mom, who can be very tough. The letter from Dan Gilbert, the booing of the Cleveland fans, the jerseys being burned — seeing all that was hard for them. My emotions were more mixed. It was easy to say, “OK, I don’t want to deal with these people ever again.” But then you think about the other side. What if I were a kid who looked up to an athlete, and that athlete made me want to do better in my own life, and then he left? How would I react? I’ve met with Dan, face-to-face, man-to-man. We’ve talked it out. Everybody makes mistakes. I’ve made mistakes as well. Who am I to hold a grudge?
Seriously read that.
“…you think about the other side. What if I were a kid who looked up to an athlete…and then he left? How would I react?”
Two letters. One written in utter disgust, because a player had left. The other written by the player, letting everyone know that it was time to come home.
I’m doing this essay because I want an opportunity to explain myself uninterrupted. I don’t want anyone thinking: He and Erik Spoelstra didn’t get along. … He and Riles didn’t get along. … The Heat couldn’t put the right team together. That’s absolutely not true.
I’m not having a press conference or a party. After this, it’s time to get to work.
When I left Cleveland, I was on a mission. I was seeking championships, and we won two. But Miami already knew that feeling. Our city hasn’t had that feeling in a long, long, long time. My goal is still to win as many titles as possible, no question. But what’s most important for me is bringing one trophy back to Northeast Ohio.
I always believed that I’d return to Cleveland and finish my career there. I just didn’t know when. After the season, free agency wasn’t even a thought. But I have two boys and my wife, Savannah, is pregnant with a girl. I started thinking about what it would be like to raise my family in my hometown. I looked at other teams, but I wasn’t going to leave Miami for anywhere except Cleveland. The more time passed, the more it felt right. This is what makes me happy.
“This is what makes me happy…”
“…it’s time to get to work…”
“…what’s most important for me is bringing one trophy back to Northeast Ohio.”
LeBron went on to discuss the choice he made in 2010, and while he admitted that while he would “do things differently,” he still admitted that he would “still have left.” It’s funny to hear him talk about going to Miami like someone going to college.
It makes sense.
LeBron went to Miami and learned how to finish. LeBron learned how to become “a better player and a better man,” and while he mentioned Miami being his “second home” as a positive to Miami, what stands out to me is second.
He’s coming to his first home today…
…the North Coast.
No, Cleveland, Ohio wasn’t where he grew up, but it’s his home town.
He understands, and that’s what that letter was all about.
We here as Cleveland sports’ fan put up with a lot. Look, we all know that Everybody Hates Cleveland, but don’t let that fool you. We love our sports. We’re passionate about our sports, and the only thing that we want as fans is TO WIN.
We’re thirsty to drink out of a cup. We’re hunger for a championship, and we just got a bit closer to that.
I’m not promising a championship. I know how hard that is to deliver. We’re not ready right now. No way. Of course, I want to win next year, but I’m realistic. It will be a long process, much longer than it was in 2010. My patience will get tested. I know that. I’m going into a situation with a young team and a new coach. I will be the old head. But I get a thrill out of bringing a group together and helping them reach a place they didn’t know they could go. I see myself as a mentor now and I’m excited to lead some of these talented young guys. I think I can help Kyrie Irving become one of the best point guards in our league. I think I can help elevate Tristan Thompson and Dion Waiters. And I can’t wait to reunite with Anderson Varejao, one of my favorite teammates.
But this is not about the roster or the organization. I feel my calling here goes above basketball. I have a responsibility to lead, in more ways than one, and I take that very seriously. My presence can make a difference in Miami, but I think it can mean more where I’m from. I want kids in Northeast Ohio, like the hundreds of Akron third-graders I sponsor through my foundation, to realize that there’s no better place to grow up. Maybe some of them will come home after college and start a family or open a business. That would make me smile. Our community, which has struggled so much, needs all the talent it can get.
As I’ve mentioned before, in other pieces that I’ve written, LeBron James loves to be in the role as a mentor, and that’s exactly what he’s got here. LeBron pointed to Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson and Dion Waiters. He gave a nod to his old friend, Anderson Varejao. While there was no mention of Andrew Wiggins or Anthony Bennett, and while that’s curious, he clearly referenced them when he mentioned the young team and the new coach.
Still, Kevin Love is out there, and he’s reportedly willing to come to Cleveland.
Cleveland can do that, but it doesn’t sound like LeBron needs that.
Talk about sitting in the cat-birds seat.
Today, LeBron James returns with two titles in hand, and is clearly the best player on the planet, and he’s home, but don’t let me tell you…
In Northeast Ohio, nothing is given. Everything is earned. You work for what you have.
I’m ready to accept the challenge. I’m coming home….LeBron James, July 11, 2014