Do you remember where you were on the evening of July 8, 2010?
It was a Thursday night, and I was back home at my church helping prepare for the opening of our annual Greek festival the next day. One of my friends had walked in late, and I remember asking him something along the lines of, “Where did LeBron end up?”
“He’s going to Miami,” he replied.
Wait, what did you say? Did I hear that right?
Even though I had a feeling LeBron James was going to leave Cleveland, hearing the news was not easy. I had a range of emotions, from “Shoot, I never got to a game at The Q when he played for the Cavs” to “You’ve got to be kidding me? You’re just going to ditch Cleveland like that? Do you have any idea what you’re in for when you come back to play the Cavs?”
Clearly, he had no clue of the impact the words “I’m going to take my talents to South Beach” would have on Cavaliers fans and most of Cleveland.
I turned on the TV as soon as I got home. Pictures of smoldering LeBron jerseys flashed across the screen. Sports commentators were all trying to get their piece in. Then came Dan Gilbert’s open letter to fans – I’d say he got his message across loud and clear.
This week, Brian Windhorst reported for ESPN’s “Miami Heat Index” that LeBron could see himself going back to Cleveland at some point later in his career. LeBron said he is happy with Miami, but wouldn’t rule out returning to play in a Cavs uniform, Windhorst wrote.
Alright, let’s look at this critically.
First, the fact that ESPN has a “Miami Heat Index” to report on anything and everything about the Heat is incredibly troublesome. And really, when I say “anything and everything,” I mean it. But, that topic is for another column.
Second, does LeBron realize how he left this town? National audiences sat glued to their TVs watching ESPN’s “The Decision,” where LeBron would make his long-awaited choice. Since when did one player deserve a special show dedicated to where he would go as a free agent?
I was disappointed that LeBron left the Cavs because I thought he would want to stay home and help Cleveland win a championship. But I understand that when an opportunity arises, you have to jump on it. He saw his chance to play with two people he already had great chemistry with, and he made the decision that was best for him. LeBron even said that it wasn’t so much about leaving Cleveland, “it’s about joining forces with the other two guys that I feel like I respect their game the most,” he told Jim Gray during “The Decision.”
But I don’t respect the way LeBron handled leaving the Cavs, at all. Cleveland fans deserved better than what they got.
So, LeBron, as much as you might be regretting your decision, you’ve made your bed. Now you’ve got to lay in it for a while. Those boos you heard on Friday night at The Q weren’t any softer than the first time Cleveland watched you return home in a Heat uniform.
I’m sure that many Cavs fans have forgiven LeBron and moved on. Rightfully so, they realized that one person does not constitute a team. The presence of Kyrie Irving has helped ease the pain a bit, too.
For LeBron’s good, he should stop talking so soon about wanting to come back. We Cavs fans still remember July 8, 2010 too clearly.