Dan Gilbert was on hand to watch a match-up that featured two of the top rookies from the 2013 draft class (Delly and Antetokounmpo) and the top two rookies (so far) from the 2014 draft class. Cleveland started the fourth quarter on a 15-4 run in the first eight minutes and survived a Nate Wolters three point attempt as time expired to win an ugly game which featured 37 turnovers and sub 40-percent shooting. It was a reported 80+ degree on the floor and both teams had been going through two-a-day practices for the last several days. Fatigue showed for each squad, but still, there was a buzz in the sold out Cox Pavillion.
–I’ve noticed little things. He seemed more comfortable in his own skin. More resolute about his game. He respected his foes and disposed of them without fanfare. When he lost to the Spurs I was taken aback at how calm he was. He seemed genuinely happy for Tim Duncan. He made no excuses – the Spurs were superior. He praised their approach, which, really, would be his approach, if that were possible. That moment changed my rational characterization of LeBron James. And what a contrast. (My mind flashes to the Dirk coughing episode)–
I’m not sure how much LeBron changed between 2010 and today. But I do know that drastic and permanent change is possible in such a short timeframe. A man’s 20s is the most dynamic period of his life. The enormous transition from institutionalized childhood to the distorted lifestyles of higher education to family-building and career growth can occur in just four years. A 26-year-old can look back at his 22-year-old self and wonder how someone so dumb survived. And a 30-year-old can look back at his 26-year-old self and wonder how someone could believe he was so smart.
I am married with two children, was born in 1984, grew up on 80s cartoons, love video games, went to a Catholic High School in suburban NE Ohio, and I love basketball. Other than that, I don’t share much in common with LeBron James, I guess. There was only one constant during my tumultuous 20s – LeBron James in Cavalier garb. In 2003, when the Cavs won the lottery, I screamed up and down my dorm hallway like a madman (my freshman year). LeBron and the Cavs set out on a journey. He was always there, growing, amidst a reshuffling of teammates, coaches, GMs, even owners. I was growing too, while I shuffled between rental housing, girlfriends, and internships. I was in school for 8 years. The week I was to defend my thesis was the same week the Cavs were eliminated in the 2010 playoffs. I was under so much stress that my body stopped digesting food. In less than a month I defended my thesis, started my career, and got married. During that same month, LeBron left Northeast Ohio and it was devastating.
I took me 4 years to emotionally purge The Decision from my psyche. The restlessness required to pen the following words:
“And LeBron’s “decision” would be the ultimate endorsement or indictment of our beloved home.”
had finally washed away. I was forced to realize that my family, my community, my faith, and the things I’d been building and growing were real, within my grasp, and requiring my dedication. Amazingly (I know), I transcended to a higher state of being – no longer requiring a stranger to affirm my city, my state, my team. To the outsiders, I “got over it.”
And now, much like that explosive month back in 2010, everything has changed again. I’ve come full circle. The cynic in me, never more insufferable than the last few nights, is being purged. LeBron James reminded me why I cared so much in the first place. He reminded me not to be ashamed of having a passion for, and drawing happiness from, a game.
This season has followed the most unpredictable sequences of events that I have ever witnessed. Since being dubbed the #seasonOfHuh by Ben Cox for now insignificant things like “struggling to inbound the ball”, it has raged out of control in a fiery inferno. The NBA landscape seems unrecognizable. The Cavs winning the lottery with those miniscule odds seemed so utterly ridiculous at the end of that season. And now, LeBron James is returning to Northeast Ohio to play for the Cleveland Cavaliers. (!)
And yet! They pale in comparison to the most remarkable thing of all. Despite all these events, despite all our incredulity, despite all the odds, despite LeBron coming home – something just happened that none of us, not even the most wildly imaginative, could have believed:
In less than 1000 words, LeBron James made everything right.
LeBron James is returning to the Cleveland Cavaliers. It’s official. LeBron gave an exclusive to Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated, in which LeBron said,
Before anyone ever cared where I would play basketball, I was a kid from Northeast Ohio. It’s where I walked. It’s where I ran. It’s where I cried. It’s where I bled. It holds a special place in my heart. People there have seen me grow up. I sometimes feel like I’m their son. Their passion can be overwhelming. But it drives me. I want to give them hope when I can. I want to inspire them when I can. My relationship with Northeast Ohio is bigger than basketball. I didn’t realize that four years ago. I do now…
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…
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.
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.
It’s what we’ve always wanted to LeBron to say, and how we’ve always wanted him to act. The next era of the Cleveland Cavaliers starts today. I’m happy for everyone who persevered with this team for so long. Enjoy yourselves, Cavs fans. Next season should be quite a ride.
What a bizarre few days its been. Northeast Ohio has hung on every word — every scrap of news about LeBron’s impending decision. And still? LeBron’s silence is deafening. The emotional meter has swung from hope, to overconfidence, to pent up exuberance, to frustration, to befuddlement. No one knows what to make of the delay that is holding up half of the NBA off-season. In the age of #HotSportsTakes, everyone
has had an opinion on whether ‘Bron is coming back to Cleveland and how everyone should act. My barber, the people I work with, random people in a movie theater: all of them have either asked me or told me whether James is coming back. Heck, even the groundhog that lives under my shed was wearing a “Forgiven” t-shirt, yesterday. It’s all gotten a bit out of hand. Why are people so emotionally invested in this guy? Why’s everyone losing their stinkin’ minds?! I agree with Tom Pestak’s ethos: sports should be fun. If they’re not, what’s the point? It’s ok to get crazy and a little silly at times, but this doesn’t feel fun anymore. Read the rest of this entry »
The Cavs are still hoping to land LeBron James. ESPN is reporting that the Cavs have traded away Jarrett Jack and Sergey Karasev to Brooklyn, while Boston will receive Marcus Thornton from the Nets and Tyler Zeller along with a future first round pick from the Cavs. The Cavs need to take back a pick from either of the other two teams to make the trade valid.
This trade will allow the Cavs the cap room to continue pursuing LeBron, who has stated he wants to make max money next season. It isn’t dissappointing to see the underperforming Jack leave the team, but Zeller will be missed. Throughout last season Zeller showed he had what it takes to be a realiable center coming off of the bench.
LeBron is meeting with Pat Riley in Las Vegas today, so where he lands after free agency is coming closer to the end. Hopefully, the Cavs will know his decision in the coming days. This offseason is certainly looking up for Cleveland.
The pick from the Cavs to the Celtics is reportedly protected.
— Jason Lloyd (@JasonLloydABJ) July 9, 2014
Sources: Cavs pursuing Ray Allen
— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) July 9, 2014
The Cavs may have someone to make clutch threes on their team next season.
Four points I’m thinking about the Cleveland Cavaliers…
1.) Last week, I wrote about the Cavs moves in free agency and failed to mention LeBron James. However hard to believe, it’s true. At the time, all of five days ago, I was still trusting what people who cover the league closely had been telling me since the Heat came crashing down in the Finals: sometimes where there’s smoke, there’s just a smoke machine. Basically, while The Return continued to be the year-long rumor that refused to die, very few people saw much in the story besides the story. Of course, the Cavs were going to court LeBron, as any team with the cap room and a drunk gunslinger’s chance of catching the eye of the best basketball player on the planet should have. And, for a league interested in becoming a year-long news cycle similar to the NFL, Cleveland presented The Angle: the plucky, oft-spurned suitor who croons and coos through 7-10 days of lead stories before James, eventually, though inevitably, returns to the pillowy-soft wedding bed of the Miami Heat.
With all the hyperbole, rumor, and silliness floating around, Tom and I went in into the broadcast booth to talk about LeBron and his options. Who’s whispering in his ear? Will he return to Cleveland? Have the opinions of random Northeast Ohioans who have tenuous affiliations with the King reached a critical mass? Will Pat Riley pull off another miracle? Who else could the Cavs add? What if our hopes are dashed? We may know the answers later today.
For now, listen to us while you’re glued to your Twitter feed. We can be heard on SoundCloud at https://soundcloud.com/ctb-5/0051-decision-eve-deja-vu-2014
Seems wasteful to exert much energy over the LeBron to CLE rumors until something more permanent starts to take shape. As a person with access to zero “sources” it makes even less sense. We’re analysts, fans, and supporters, not insiders. But, I’ve had plenty of thoughts and conversations about all the rumblings lately. I thought I’d share them.
On everyone’s emotions: