It was nearly four years ago when former Cavaliers star Lebron James went on national television to announce his move to the Miami Heat. Cleveland fans alike were obviously crushed by the news, as Lebron had been the face of the franchise for the seven years prior. There were small riots, jersey burnings and plenty of tears too.

In his last year sporting the wine and gold, James averaged nearly 30 points on just over 50 percent shooting. The Cavs lost to Boston Celtics in the second round of a disappointing six game series.

So our king was gone, and everyone’s disappointment turned to hatred. “Lebron” became a swear word in most Cleveland households. The man was a villain, look at as though he’d just committed a massive crime, and in most eyes he had done just that.

Present day, I look back on Lebron’s years here in Cleveland with a smile. He truly put Cleveland basketball back on the map. The 2002-03 Cavs roster featured the likes of Ricky Davis and Darius Miles along with the deadly threat of….Chris Mihm. That team was absolutely abysmal finishing the year at 17-65, and playing in a half-empty Gund Arena each game.

Drafting Lebron with the number one overall pick in 2003 progressively turned the Cavaliers in a playoff team every season.

Lebron was the King, our savior, destined to lead us to greatness except….we never really put that much around him. I’m sorry, but the 2007 NBA Finals lineup of Larry Hughes, Sasha Pavlovic, Drew Gooden, Zydrunus Ilgauskas and Lebron is not “implementing the proper pieces around a star.” It’s a miracle that team even got as far as it did that year.

Now in his fourth season with the Miami Heat, Lebron is currently playing in his fifth career NBA Finals and he is looking the win his third championship in a row. From a non-bias perspective, that was a pretty damn good decision by him to leave Cleveland for Miami. Sure, it was a cold-blooded, but the man simply wanted to win and he just couldn’t do it by himself.

I love the Cavs with all my heart, but each and every year of the “Lebron-Era” all we were saying is that we needed to do a better job of building around our star. After seven seasons, the front office was ultimately unable to put the proper pieces around James.

However, it is my belief that Lebron will return and win a championship for Cleveland. And that is why I cannot hate the man, but only appreciate his talent on the floor in the present moment. He will come back, will represent this city, and will give us fans what we’ve been waiting for all of this time. The current Cavaliers, 33-game winners last season, have a core nucleus that is better than anything Lebron had back in his Cleveland days. I’d say the Cavs would be close to as good as the current Miami Heat are now if James was added to the mix.

Finally, the man is just so talented at the game of basketball. It’s hard not to appreciate his play. He makes it look so effortless out there, night in and night out. He’s a team player, a hard worker and a winner.

Moving forward, go on and hate Lebron all you want, but you’re truly wasting you time. Those words of hate will soon turn to love, and the King will once again rise in Cleveland, Ohio as a member of the Cavaliers.

-Zach Shafron

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