Happy days could return soon for Cleveland fans.
Mike Brown did. The head coach with the best win percentage and only NBA Finals appearance in Cavalier history returned—and has since been let go again—three years after he was fired in an attempt to tantalize LeBron James to stay and not leave via free agency. Zydrunus Ilgauskus did. Big Z made his own “Decision” to leave Cleveland and follow LeBron to Miami to chase championships. He wasn’t vilified like LBJ, but several fans were unhappy with him. Ilgauskus now has his number eleven Cavs jersey hanging from the rafters and has a prominent position in the organization. But neither of them were disrespected on their way out the door by owner Dan Gilbert the way LeBron James was.
Four years ago when LeBron James announced his “Decision” to leave Northeast Ohio and take his talents to South Florida, Cavs fans were understandably grief stricken and stunned. Several of them burned his number twenty three jersey deep into the dark of the night and into the dawn of the morning. But, it was Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert who shocked everyone with his response to the franchises’ best player bolting for greener pastures when he wrote his passionate, albeit bitter letter—which has since been removed from the team’s website after having been posted for the last four years—to Cavs fans demeaning James.
In the days after the letter was written and posted, Civil Rights activist Jesse Jackson said Gilbert looked at James as a “runaway slave” and that he sounded like “the owner of LeBron James, not the Cleveland Cavaliers.” To me it read more like a letter from a ex-wife or girlfriend trying to make herself look better by telling the new, younger, more attractive lady he left her for, about his impotency issues or how inadequate her new mate would be, while exposing the many insecurities they spoke about over pillow talk. For those who may have forgotten about said letter, below is a refresher.
The Letter was taken taken down for the first time almost four years to the day.
If LeBron James decides to sign with the Cleveland Cavaliers, many will see it as the equivalent of a runaway slave returning to live and work for his scorned owner. Somebody would have to get Jesse Jackson and Reverend Al Sharpton on the phone to discuss that. But, we all know, there are many who wish LeBron never play for Cleveland as long as Gilbert is the owner.
Actor Laz Alonso is one of many who think James should NEVER play for Gilbert again.
I prefer to look at what impact a reconciliation would have on the court. From a basketball standpoint it would make sense for LeBron to once again don the wine and gold. Point Guard Kyrie Irving has blossomed into an All Star who can take the ball handling, scoring and distributing responsibilities off of LBJ. Irving could also benefit from playing next to a superstar in James who will draw ninety percent of opposing teams attention. Andrew Wiggins, who many analysis have compared to a young LeBron James, could now be groomed to be Scottie Pippen to James’ Jordan. You mix in a savvy veteran in Anderson Varajeo, a up and coming dominate front court player in Tristan Thompson, along with a scoring threat off the bench in Dion Waiters and you already have a mix better than what is left on South Beach. All Cavs fans will have to hope is that 2013 number one overall draft pick Anthony Bennett gives them something and LeBron James would be surrounded by talent that could extended his championship window in the way Tim Duncan’s has been by the wealth of talent running with him along the Alamo in San Antonio.
Pat Riley and the Heat could possibly retool the roster to keep Miami in contention for another two to three years—although I don’t think adding a past his prime All-Star in Danny Granger and a journeyman in Josh McRoberts are the answer to anything the Western Conference has to offer in an NBA Finals.
Also, with Dwayne Wade getting older and looking more like a shell of himself and couldn’t raise his game in the Finals to give the Spurs a fight, wouldn’t it be better for James to go team up and teach some young guns, even if it meant taking a step back off the Championship stage for a year or two in order to be there consistently at the end of his career?
Cleveland and their fans are the most loyal and hopeful in sports. I truly mean that (this is coming from a Steelers fan). It would be cool to see the player who has the ability of bringing the city it’s first championship in five decades return and possibly end the drought. Like many, I too wish for his sake, he didn’t have to do it for an owner who went out of his way to diminish his character and ability. It will leave a bad taste in many people’s mouth to see him put that wine and gold uniform back on. But, LeBron returning to his home area as a “prodigal son” of sorts would be great theatre, regardless of if he wins them a title or not. So the real question is, can bitter Exes really get back together?