The Horrific Impact LeBron Leaving Would Have on Cleveland

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When LeBron James decided to return to Cleveland in 2014, it was my assumption that he would never leave again. I believed he would finish his career out in Quicken Loans Arena, retire as one of the greatest to ever play, have his jersey lifted to the rafters and maybe even buy the team sometime in the future.

If you told me that the Cavs would, in the time since LeBron returned, win a championship and get to the finals four years in a row, I wouldn’t understand why there is any reason LeBron would want to leave Cleveland.

Fast forward to now as LeBron and the rest of the NBA prepares for free agency and it feels like there is a chance he could once again depart, most likely to Los Angeles. I have ran with the concept that if he does choose to leave, we can be appreciative of everything he’s done for Cleveland while also being very angry at him.

This is what LeBron said in his SI essay announcing his return in 2014:

“I always believed that I’d return to Cleveland and finish my career there. I just didn’t know when. After the season, free agency wasn’t even a thought. But I have two boys and my wife, Savannah, is pregnant with a girl. I started thinking about what it would be like to raise my family in my hometown. I looked at other teams, but I wasn’t going to leave Miami for anywhere except Cleveland. The more time passed, the more it felt right. This is what makes me happy.’

To me, that sounds like a career-long commitment to a return and for him to leave would be hypocritical on a number of levels.

I understand that the supporting cast this year wasn’t the best, his relationship with Owner Dan Gilbert is frosty, Kyrie and Griff are gone and we have no chance to beat the Warriors. But if what you say is true, LeBron, it is more than just the game of basketball. It is about family, community and the cities of Akron and Cleveland.

But from a basketball standpoint, the Lakers are not a very good team. Even if they acquired Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, they would have a very hard time getting out of the West and beating both the Houston Rockets and the Golden State Warriors.

From an off the court career standpoint, it’s not like he can be a movie star during the season regardless of where he plays. If he’s on the Lakers, even in LA, he has to attend all of the team functions during the season. Besides, he’s LeBron James, he can conduct business from anywhere.

From a family standpoint, if I were LeBron, I’d want my kids to grow up in the Akron area and play ball in my hometown and start the second generation of the James family tradition in Akron.

The biggest factor I believe is the legacy standpoint. Look, everyone is thankful LeBron came back and we had four years of amazing basketball including that title, but leaving Cleveland once again negates this idea of “Northeast Ohio over everything” that LeBron made his message when coming back.

Going to Los Angeles is selling out.

There.

I said it.

Sure, the situation here in Cleveland isn’t perfect, but you already ran away once and doing it again would be stabbing the hearts of Cleveland fans, specifically the young children that admire you, (like I did when you left the first time). I remember the sadness you caused me. Now, as a young adult, it’ll be different, but I still will be mad.

What LeBron has to remember is that not only did he forgive us for the backlash he took in the Summer of 2010, but we also forgave him. We welcomed him back in 2014 with open arms, knowing he was the best player on the planet and also a good person that did what he had to do.

When the Cavs won the championship, everything was perfect.

So LeBron, I don’t think you’ve earned the right to leave. I think it’s a sellout move and people will criticize me for saying that but I don’t care. A big part of life is enduring the challenges that are faced and not just running away from them like you already did once.

It’s not about championships – you already have three. It’s not about Michael Jordan – he never lost in the finals, you lost six times. It’s not about being a movie star – you can do that in the summer. It’s not about basketball – the Lakers aren’t even good and you won’t win a title with them.

So, LeBron, what’s it gonna be? Leave the people that love you and would build a statue with their own bare hands, or go to Los Angeles for a little fun.

I know what the right answer is and I hope you do, too. It’s not about us young adults, it’s about the kids. Just like you’ve demonstrated so many times with your donations and foundations. Leaving Cleveland would crush so many young people and I would hate to see this city have to endure the fallout again.

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