We all can. You can. I can. LeBron James can. We all can go home again.
A lot has been made about the man’s decision to return to Cleveland, the place he left for the glitz and glamour of Miami and the opportunity to win an NBA title. One columnist wrote that James was simply returning to his Midwest roots, insinuating that homesickness played a role in his decision. Another columnist wrote that James was an opportunist, the Heat are in meltdown mode and Cleveland, with its young talent, was as good as any team that James could lead to championship glory.
The opinion spectrum stretches vast and wide, but we believe it came down to two words: Fulfillment and regret.
James led the Heat to the finals four straight seasons, winning two back-to-back championships. Before his departure for Miami, he coveted an NBA title trophy more than all else, the pinnacle of achievement in his job profession. He made a deal—some would say with the devil. He reached that pinnacle. But something was amiss. There was a void. He had done it, but he hadn’t done it the way he wanted to do it. Now, how to correct that?
Man-up. Apologize. And go home.
It’s a widespread fact that, while non-Miamians passionately dislike the Heat—likely more so for Pat Riley—no one has ever had it out for LeBron James. Yes, the pretentiousness of “The Decision” a few years back was hard to take—we’d call it pompous and shameful—but you got the idea it was forced on him by an intrepid PR staff and a sensationally-crazed media. LeBron James got caught up in the hoopla of LeBron James.
Through it all, on the court he always backed up any modicum of arrogance he exuded off the court with mesmerizing abilities. He’s the best in the game. And it’s not healthy to hate the best, unless they give you a reason to. Envy can turn a good man into a sad man.
Thomas Wolfe was wrong. You can go home again. And whoever said you can’t take it with you was wrong too. We’re happy for LeBron James. He’s a little older, a little wiser, and he’s righting a wrong, going home with the experience of winning two NBA titles. Even if he fails to help bring Cleveland its first title in 51 years, his story, his legacy will remain the same. LeBron James showed integrity both on and off the court.
Now, we will not of course be rooting for him. Cleveland is, after all, in the Central Division of the Eastern Conference and a rival of the Bulls, who have made some impressive additions of late. Pau Gasol, Euro star Nikola Mirotic, and draft pick Doug McDermott are formidable acquisitions. Together they do not make a LeBron James—or a Carmelo Anthony for that matter—but add in a team-oriented, defense-minded coach in Tom Thibodeau, a healthy Derrick Rose, a powerful Joakim Noah, a work-horse Taj Gibson, an experienced Jimmy Butler, a talented cast of support, and the Bulls have the right formula for greatness.
Hopefully, it will be enough to give LeBron James second thoughts on his return home.