In Life, Everyone Deserves A Second Chance

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Over four years ago I stood like a stone in front of my TV, tears streaming down my face. My idol, my hero and the man I looked up the most had just announced he was leaving us. A giant slap in the face to the entire city of Cleveland; the worst part was that it took place on national television. We all remember that dark summer night…never forget it.

Our hopes and dreams were crushed, and the great LeBron James became public enemy number one. He was hated by Cleveland, loathed by his former fans, but most important, his biggest supporters, the kids of Cleveland and Akron, lost respect for the man that they thought of as their idol.

In his first game back in Cleveland, the boos were deafening. Despite James’ 38 points in a Miami blowout win, the real message was sent: we hate you for what you’ve done.

LeBron’s goal was always to win a championship here in Cleveland, but leaving us after half-assing his way through the playoffs was a crime.

But in life, everyone deserves a second chance in life.

After four straight title appearances and two NBA Championships, this past summer the King announced his return to Cleveland. This time, he did it in a respectful letter posted on SI. He spoke of the mistakes he had made, the successes he’s had and his plans to win a championship for the city of Cleveland. This young adult has turned into a mature adult.

The atmosphere in downtown Cleveland on that July evening was the polar opposite of the four years prior. Grown men dropping to their knees praising the great God almighty that this living legend was back. Those same boys and girls, now teenagers, jumping up and down excited to cheer for their beloved hero once again. Grandparents streaming tears at the thought of getting the chance to witness just one more Cleveland sports championships, bringing back amazing memories of their younger days.

The King is back.

Just after LeBron’s announcement four years ago, Cavaliers majority owner Dan Gilbert sent out a nasty letter scorching the “Self-Proclaimed King” as he put it, and really sticking it to the man.

Full letter here: http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/story?id=5365704

He called him out.

Days before LeBron’s decision, many cited this letter as the reason why James would not come back. Those same people, at the time, needed that letter more than anyone else. It was an affirmation that someone had our back, a guarantee that not all hope was lost, and it was truthfully exactly how this fan base felt.

Dan Gilbert

Dan Gilbert was a hero.

When the two met in South Beach on a Sunday afternoon (in secrecy), they hashed out their differences like grown men. After all, it was one bad night for a relationship spanning five full years. For fans to discredit Gilbert’s genius was incredibly ridiculous, and it ended up not mattering. I will never forget that letter, because it gave me hope for the future.

The Cavalier’s first game in the “LeBron James Era Part II” is this Thursday and Quicken Loans Arena will be absolutely rocking. The cutting boos will now turn into a giant roar of approval, stamping the return of one of the greatest basketball players of all time.

This next era of basketball is going to be great. Thanks to LeBron, thanks to Dan Gilbert, but most importantly thanks to the greatest fans on the planet – Clevelanders.

-Zach Shafron

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