Lebron James is heading back to Cleveland (Photo: Instagram)
Like Odysseus returning home to Crete in Homer’s epic The Odyssey, LeBron James returned home to Cleveland on Friday afternoon, agreeing to a 2-year, $42.1 million dollar deal. What does this mean for the NBA?
One story that is universally loved in every sport; redemption.
LeBron James went from being one of the most well-liked players in the NBA to one of the most reviled after the now infamous “The Decision” telecast on ESPN prior to his departure to the Miami Heat.
After he said “I’m taking my talents to South Beach…”, Cleveland erupted into a frenzy of burning jerseys and torn posters while destroying anything related to their former hometown hero. Cleveland’s owner Dan Gilbert wrote a letter to LeBron and the fans of Cleveland, publically trashing their former star while guaranteeing that the Cavaliers would win a championship before LeBron ever would. Mr.
Gilbert was wrong, as the Heat went on to win two NBA titles in four appearances. Meanwhile, the Cavaliers were an annual lottery pick.
The Rumors started last offseason when reporters noticed LeBron had an opt-out clause in his contract which would make him a free agent in the summer of 2014. The front-runners to sign LeBron were Cleveland and Miami, even though the Lakers made a push of their own.
LeBron returning to Cleveland became a realistic possibility when Cleveland owner Dan Gilbert removed his infamous letter from the team website. Then, news struck that LeBron was going to fly to Las Vegas to meet with Miami Heat president Pat Riley. Who could turn down a contract when a team president is hosting you in Las Vegas, especially when that president is as well-respected as Pat Riley?
The next day LeBron agreed to return to Cleveland and has publicly stated he is committed to Cleveland for the foreseeable future. In an article on si.com, LeBron stated his reasons for returning to Cleveland.
“When I left Cleveland, I was on a mission,” James explained. “I was seeking championships, and we won two. But Miami already knew that feeling. [Cleveland] 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.”
Cleveland has a young core of talent, including three first overall picks in point guard Kyrie Irving, power forward Anthony Bennett, and small forward Andrew Wiggins.
LeBron sees the opportunity to help mentor these young players and bring a championship to a city that has not won one since the Cleveland Browns won the NFL title pre-super bowl in 1964.
Las Vegas took notice by giving the Cavaliers 4-1 odds to win the NBA championship making them the favorite to win it next season as well. Apologies were given from both the city and their “king” as both parties realized they made poor decisions four years ago.
Before LeBron agreed to return he met with Dan Gilbert so both could make up after their harsh breakup. LeBron’s return will not only redeem his character, as some called him selfish for leaving Cleveland in the first place, but bring redemption to a sports town that’s ready for an injection of excitement.
Kyle Hutchinson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org