How LeBron James gained back a lot of respect


He’s coming home, Cleveland.

LeBron James has announced that he is returning to the Cleveland Cavaliers next season.

LeBron took a lot of criticism when he decided to “take his talents to South Beach” in 2010, breaking the hearts of everyone in Cleveland.

The people of Cleveland weren’t the only ones upset with James, almost everyone on planet Earth was, well, except for Miami Heat fans, but you get the point.

Many people viewed “The Decision” TV special to be a publicity stunt, and viewed LeBron James as a selfish human being. That couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Was The Decision a bad idea? Yes, it was. But if that is the worst thing LeBron has done during his NBA career, then we cannot hate him for that.

When LeBron James joined Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami, people said it would be too easy to win championships. Well, that proved to be false. In their first year, they lost in the NBA Finals to the Dallas Mavericks. Boy, did LeBron take a lot of heat for that loss (no pun intended) and all of the blame fell on his shoulders.

We all remember the “LeBron jokes” that were on the internet. Like this one:

“Hey LeBron do you have 4 quarters I can borrow?”

“No, sorry man, I have 3 quarters, but I can’t find the 4th quarter.”

LeBron couldn’t win.  He couldn’t get over the hump in Cleveland so he came to Miami to win championships. And in his first season he was ridiculed that he STILL couldn’t win. Even with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. He wasn’t clutch in the 4th quarter of games, which prompted jokes like the one I mentioned earlier.

In 2012 LeBron finally got over that hump by winning his first NBA championship over Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder, and won again the next year by defeating Tim Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs. With many thanks to Ray Allen for that amazing shot in Game 6.

Miami was on the verge of a 3-peat this year, but ended up losing to the Spurs in 5 games. LeBron didn’t face as much criticism this time around, why is that? Because he has won before, not just once, but twice.

When LeBron James opted out of his contract with the Miami Heat after the season, it was time for him to decide what to do with his future.

Option A: Remain with Miami, which is his best chance to win more rings right now

Option B: Return to the Cleveland Cavaliers, his hometown team, and try to win a championship for a city that hasn’t won a title in almost 50 years. Not just any city, but HIS city.

If LeBron’s goal is to just win more rings, then go back to Miami. But rings are no longer the most important thing to him. So, he chose Option B.

He is no longer ring chasing. He has won 2 rings with Miami. He realized that winning multiple rings with the Heat won’t even compare to winning just one in Cleveland, a city that has never won an NBA title, or a sports championship in almost 50 years.

LeBron had this to say:

“My relationship with Northeast Ohio is bigger than basketball. I didn’t realize that 4 years ago. I do now.”

Ever since LeBron James left in 2010, I always felt that he would come back. I obviously don’t know him on a personal level, but I know it had to be hard for him to know that Cleveland fans hated him and burned his jersey. He never meant to break Cleveland’s heart, he just wanted to win a championship, and he couldn’t do that in Cleveland at the time.

He felt he needed a championship ring to validate his career. And he was right about that.

LeBron has those championship rings he was seeking, his work in Miami is done, there was nothing left for him to prove in Miami.

There is still something left that he needs to prove, and he can’t do that in a Miami Heat uniform.

He has to win in Cleveland. 

There is unfinished business for LeBron James in Cleveland, and he knows that. That’s why he is going back to the Cavaliers next season.

In 7 years with Cleveland, LeBron was able to make it to the NBA Finals once, only to get swept by the San Antonio Spurs. Taking that 2007 Cavalier team to the NBA Finals still might be LeBron’s greatest achievement to this day. If you don’t believe me, take a look at the 2007 starting lineup, as well as the potential lineup for next year:

I still cannot believe that 2007 team went to the NBA Finals. The 2014 starting lineup of Kyrie Irving, Andrew Wiggins, LeBron, Tristan Thompson, and Anderson Varejao is a lot better than the 2007 lineup, but that potential lineup isn’t the reason LeBron chose Cleveland over Miami.

In fact, an argument could be made that Miami’s lineup is a lot more appealing. They have more veterans, and players that have won championships. Cleveland doesn’t have that. Again, LeBron isn’t ring-chasing anymore. He realized that he has nothing left to prove with that Miami Heat roster. But he has something to prove in Cleveland.

I understand if you still hate LeBron James, that is fine. But you have to at least respect him now. Has LeBron made mistakes over the years? Absolutely, we all have. But after the move LeBron made today, you have to respect him. I’m not saying everyone should root for him and love him, but you cannot hate him for the decision he made today. He realized basketball is not all that matters in life. There are more important things, and you have to respect him for coming to that conclusion.

For more on LeBron’s decision to return to Cleveland, be sure to check out the link below, which is an essay LeBron James wrote on why he decided to return to Cleveland:

Here is a great article in the words of LeBron James explaining his return to Cleveland. I highly recommend reading this.