Friday, July 11, 2014

NBA FREE AGENCY 2014: 'RETURN OF THE KING' LEBRON RETURNS TO CAVS

By: Connor Glowacki

courtesy of The Cleveland Plain Dealer
LeBron James has handled his two major NBA career decisions very differently. In 2010, with no career championships, he led an entire country wide tour visiting with teams before making the announcement of joining the Miami Heat on ESPN's television special, 'The Decision'. That special broke the hearts of every citizen of Ohio and made LeBron the top villain of the sports world. Upon arriving in Miami, LeBron, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh threw a huge celebration at American Airlines Arena where the Akron native famously told the crowd, "not one, not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, not seven".
        Today, over four years later, LeBron made his announcement to come home and play for the Cleveland Cavaliers in a printed article/letter that he wrote for Sports Illustrated. No television special or gimmicks, just honest words and emotions. There were no leaks from LeBron's camp and there was no clue if he would go back to Cleveland or remain in Miami. And in his letter, LeBron declared that there would be, 'no press conferences or parties. Just getting to work'. He has become a beloved hero once more and is doing it on his terms.
        LeBron was gracious in his letter thanking Heat owner Micky Arison, executive Pat Riley, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh among countless others. He essentially forgave Cavs owner Dan Gilbert's scathing letter that he wrote in the wake of the 2010 'Decision' special. LeBron acknowledges in the letter that it will take longer to compete for a championship in Cleveland, but that he is looking forward to the challenge and is ready to take on a mentor role in his quest for redemption. If LeBron is able to lead the Cavaliers and the city of Cleveland to their first championship since 1964, it won't matter if he ever catches up to Michael Jordan's six titles. LeBron has redefined his legacy and has developed a niche in NBA history by being the hometown kid to return home.
       The Cavs roster is young and inexperienced, but contains potential. Point guard Kyrie Irving averaged 20.8 points and 6.1 assists per game last season and will have to share ball handling duties with LeBron to make head coach David Blatt's offense run efficiently. Irving will have to develop a consistent jump shot as he will be getting more open looks from passes when LeBron is double teamed. Guard Dion Waiters and forward Tristan Thompson, while still raw, can grow as players as they learn to play with the same defensive intensity that LeBron played with in Miami. Center Anderson Varejao provides LeBron with a familiar face to help with defense and rebounding down in the post and their previous TWO number one overall draft picks, forward Anthony Bennett and guard Andrew Wiggins will have an incredible opportunity to learn from one of the best that the NBA has ever seen. AND if the Cavs are able to trade some of their younger players to the Minnesota Timberwolves for all-star forward Kevin Love, the Cavs will have the best post presence support that they have ever provided for LeBron.
courtesy of basketusa.com
      Today was a big day for the NBA. It proves that a player of LeBron James' stature can still come home to a small market team. With the recent news of Bosh's 5 year/$118 million dollar deal with the Heat, making him the highest paid player in the NBA, and an increasingly likelihood of Wade returning, it appears the Heat will survive this setback. A team with Wade, Bosh, rookie guard Shabazz Napier, forwards Danny Granger and Josh McRoberts, and guard Norris Cole with several free agents will allow the Heat to make a solid playoff push. That being said, today is about LeBron James and the city of Cleveland. He has decided to change his legacy's narrative and the NBA will be much better for it.

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