LeBron: Exiled Kings Don’t Get to Return

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Let’s face it, writing an objective  article about LeBron James is about as easy for a Cleveland sports fan as it would be to beat LeBron one-on-one. Besides, with all the incredibly creative “journalists” weaving the most unreliable of “information” into definitive stories, there’s not a high chance of getting an accurate insight from anyone as to James’ thought process. That being said, there seem to be three recurring names sportswriters keep bringing up when speculating about LeBron’s future: Miami (obviously), Houston, and Cleveland. I’ve seen one or two articles about James and the Bulls, and I’ve even seen the Clippers thrown out as a distant possibility, but in terms of consistent rumors, these three teams seem to be mainstream mainstays. Now, I’m not here to add another uninformed opinion about LeBron to the dissonant white noise that is sports media, but rather to explain why our favorite of those three teams shouldn’t want LeBron anywhere near their developing young players.

But first, let me take a selfie. Just kidding, what I actually need to do first is address the picture LeBron’s wife, Savannah, posted on Instagram Sunday night:

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Understandably, the Internet went wild, but people, please. The James’ are both from Akron; it’s where they met and grew up. LeBron has his palace of a house in Akron, and it’s no secret that he and his family often spend off-seasons there. With this in mind, let’s all just calm down. The likelihood that this picture is a reference to LeBron playing for the Cavs is lower than that of Dwyane Wade ever playing a full season’s worth of games again. The countdown in the caption is probably nothing more than the countdown to LeBron’s family spending the summer in their hometown, nothing more, and if you gossip scavengers would use your people brains for a minute, this would become the most obvious explanation.

Ok, now that that’s out of the way, we can focus on why LeBron not coming back to Cleveland may just be the best thing for a young, developing Cleveland team, and an old, re-developing Cleveland city. First of all, LeBron scorned the city. He can talk about how special a place it is to him all he wants, but the fact remains he took the easy way out to get a championship for himself, rather than take the time to build a champion for his team and his city. As fans, do we really want to scrap what we’ve been building for 3 years to put our faith in someone who has left us hanging in the past? In addition, I think we saw definitive proof in this year’s NBA Finals that a franchise built over years with players totally invested in the team and city is a lot more unstoppable than a glorified AAU squad built by recruitment and money. Not to mention the pathetic light it shows our city in to have fans begging LeBron to come back. Seriously? He left us; he decided that as a team, city, and fan base, Cleveland wasn’t good enough. We were in a relationship, and we got broken up with. Are we going to be the stalker ex that passive-aggressively likes everything LeBron posts on Facebook, and leaves drunk voicemails at 4 in the morning crying about how we miss him? Because that’s the vibe all this “Please come home LeBron” stuff gives off, and if we’re looking for ways to garner more respect for Cleveland, that’s not one of them.

Secondly, throwing a star figure like LeBron into the mix would undo seasons’ worth of work done by current Cavs players to find their roles within the team. The coaches have been working tirelessly to mold Kyrie into an unequivocal leader, to get Dion to play with the attitude of a confident scorer, to get Andy and Tristan to see themselves as defensive anchors and viable offensive options. If LeBron comes back, he becomes the leader, the 1st  (2nd, 3rd, and 4th) offensive option, the veteran presence, and probably the defensive anchor. Which leaves the rest of the players to once again struggling to find their respective roles, an effect that is negative for a team no matter what way you look at it. The Cavs have been working to develop these players in their specific roles, as a team, and adding LeBron would be throwing an incredibly distracting wrench into the works.

Finally, LeBron is a well-documented dick. There are countless testimonies of him refusing to sign autographs, leaving terrible tips, and generally being a jerk. He talks in his book about how the “Fab 5” (he and the other 4 starters on his high school team) refused to stop drinking and smoking weed in high school when asked by coaches to do so. There were rumors in Cleveland when he played for the Cavs that he and Drew Gooden could frequently be found doing cocaine in VIP rooms of downtown bars. There were also rumors during his first season in Miami that he wanted to skip a team flight out of town so he could go out that  night, saying he would take a private flight the next morning. On top of all this, we as a nation have seen him disappear in the playoffs when it becomes clear he won’t win, retreating to the bench to pout like a kid in timeout. To qualify, I’m not here to condemn LeBron as a person. I realize a lot of these are rumors and speculation, just like most of the talk about his future. But ask yourself: even if they are just rumors, are they rumors you would want attached to the Cavs? Is a team that behaved like that a team you would be proud to root for? You bring LeBron back and, no matter how hard you try to prevent it, there’s no way some of his arrogance and self entitlement won’t wear off on his teammates. I’m no coach, but I don’t want that nonsense anywhere near my young players.

In closing, I think we can all take a lesson from Cleveland classic Major League 2. The Indians got rid of notorious jerk and chemistry destroyer Jack Parkman, and the team was better off for it. With this in mind, I’ll go out on a limb and speak to LeBron from all Cleveland fans: Stay away from Cleveland LeBron. We have too much self respect to want you back. We’re not going to let you quit on us when it counts again. And as the Spurs can tell you, in the long run we’ll be better off with our own.

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