I needed a night to digest this whole thing, and waking up today I’m still disappointed. However, I am not shocked at LeBron James’s choice to head back to Cleveland. I think it says a lot when a player chooses a franchise that is paying him less money (remember, Miami has no income tax), has proven to have an inept front office (you have to be pretty darn bad to get three number one picks in four years), and has a head coach with no NBA experience. It means this decision has more to do with emotions and hearts desires than just basketball.
For Miami Heat fans, the most important takeaway of James’s letter in Sports Illustrated is that there is nothing the Heat did wrong. It wasn’t money, it wasn’t head coach Erik Spoelstra, and it wasn’t Pat Riley’s need to retool Miami’s roster. It was just simply a guy who wanted to go home. It didn’t really matter what Dan Gilbert wrote in 2010 (using such words as “cowardly,” “narcissistic,” and “heartless”), and it didn’t matter that Cavs fans burned his jersey. He has a family that is from Ohio, and no matter what, that was where they wanted to be. Granted, those of us in the Southeast can’t understand why anyone would want to live in Ohio, we do understand home is where the heart is.
There are so many different ways to look at this. The most creative I have heard was someone comparing LeBron’s entire story to a guy leaving his girlfriend (Cleveland) for a supermodel (Miami). His ex throws some of his clothes out the window, and burns the rest. Then her father (Dan Gilbert) blasts his name to everyone he can think of. The star and his supermodel have an amazing run for four years, but in the end, he realizes he still loves his ex more. The ex, who did everything she could to smear his name, now willingly takes him back even though she felt like she was treated poorly. The supermodel goes on to live her Hollywood life because she can always find another star boyfriend.
In the end, those of us in South Florida got to see four of the greatest seasons in NBA history by our franchise. We got to watch a team, that only started in 1988, finally grow into a juggernaut. The Miami Heat had grown from the expansion years of Rony Seikaly and Rory Sparrow into arguably one of the greatest franchises in NBA history. Today, outside of Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago, and San Antonio it’s hard to argue that the Heat are not the fifth most important team to ever have the NBA logo on their jerseys. LeBron James helped make that happen. Miami can now say it has tradition, legacy, Hall of Fame credentials, and championships to spotlight underneath their logo. We had the closest thing to the Showtime Lakers this league has seen since the 80s, we had so many playoffs and finals moments, we had 27 straight wins to cheer for, and we even had this.
We thank LeBron for bringing together a fantastic and fun brand of basketball. I speak for all Miami fans when I ask, “Did you really think he was going to play the rest of his career here?” We knew we were renting him all along, and sometimes it’s just best to enjoy the ride. For now, LeBron is going back to where he always wanted to be. Can he deliver Cleveland a championship? Who knows. Right now there is way too much youth, but give it a few years. Are the Heat done and dead? Of course not! Sure, it’s not the Heatles, but Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh will be back. Pat Riley always finds a way to keep this team competitive, and not having an income tax plus great weather is always attractive to free agents.
Everyone will move on. LeBron will have his jersey retired in two cities. Miami will still be Miami, and Cleveland will still be Cleveland. Oh, and one more thing. Tom, here’s Miami’s response to your question. This, This, This, This, This, This, and This (okay well the Gators part is just from me, not Miami). Don’t get cocky until you’ve won. I still see lots of eggs, but no chickens yet.
And to those who own LeBron James Heat jerseys, don’t throw those out. That’s a future #randomjersey. Keep it in your closet for awhile, but one day you’ll want to wear that baby again. You know, I forgot one other thing. I might be able to afford courtside seats now! Let’s Go Heat! …and best wishes LeBron. It’s been real.[related-posts]