10 YEARS AGO TODAY…
LeBron James and the Miami Heat traveled back to Cleveland for the first time since his “Decision” made over the summer to leave the Cavaliers for said Heat. It was a game that was anticipated across the country at that time and it did not disappoint. The Heat were 11-9 and the Cavs were 7-10 coming into the affair.
It wasn’t the results of the game, a 118-90 Heat win, so much as what the Cleveland fans would do in getting the chance to see a player that was now the most hated man ever (at least for this generation) in person for the first time since. There were signs, there was boo’ing, yelling, screaming and every time King James touched the ball it got the crowd fired up in anger.
LeBron finished with 38 points five rebounds and eight assists.
You know what else made his return? Big Z, who didn’t even take a shot. The 7’3 center played on the Cavs from 1996-2010 and was a staple of the franchise. However, Ilgauskas went with LeBron to Miami for just one final season of his career.
The love-hate relationship between LeBron James and Cleveland fans since he was drafted by the Cavs in 2003 is absolutely incredible. In the game 10 years ago, LeBron was absolutely hated. However, in 2014 fans yearned for his return home to play again in Cleveland because he was a free agent and could sign anywhere.
As we all know, he would come back home and come back down 3-1 for the first championship in Cleveland since 1964. Even so, after the 2017-18 season, James would leave again. This time it was out west to Los Angeles to play for the Lakers.
The anger never reached quite the same level in the second move because of the fact that LeBron did win Cleveland that championship this city so desperately desired. The first time around James left us with nothing.
LeBron James has been such a polarizing figure my entire life. It is unbelievable that 10 years have passed since that historic game and the fact that he is still playing in the league. Some people may disagree with this, but I feel LeBron is the best player in NBA history. Better than Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson or Kareem-Abdul-Jabbar.
Additionally, the funny thing to think about is what would have happened had LeBron never left? Would one of those Cavs teams that never quite had the best supporting cast be able to win a championship? The closest they ever got was in 2007 against the San Antonio Spurs and that team got swept in the finals.
LeBron could have stayed, the teams certainly would’ve been good. However, it may have just been years and years of almost winning it all. Thus, there is a solid argument to be made that James leaving was ultimately good for Cleveland. It got us PG Kyrie Irving in the draft amongst many other talented players.
I would love to see LeBron finish his career with a final season in Cleveland with the Cavaliers. To end this historic run where it started. I do not know how much longer James desires to play, but the man is at 35-years-old and isn’t getting any younger.
UPDATE: LeBron just signed a two-year 85-million extension with the Lakers.
I, personally, wasn’t at the Return to Cleveland game. Apologizes for the yelling and screaming of those that were in attendance. After all, no one can predict the future.