Well, for starters, Jim Gray wasn’t involved. I’d say that ESPN wasn’t involved either, but let’s face it, they were. Where else were we going to see eloquent Heat fan reacts like, “yo, this sucks man…. it just sucks.” And thank god they had a stable of reporters that could “confirm” the story after it broke. (“It’s not official until we say it’s official!) I might have turned on NBA TV to see coverage, but I don’t know where it is, it always takes me two minutes of cruising up or down the channel guide to find it, and I wasn’t that interested.
So LeBron broke his decision via a poem. No, it was an essay, but how great would a poem have been?
Wait, I’m supposed to believe LeBron wrote an essay? Oh, it was “as told to Dan Jenkins”. Ok, it was Lee Jenkins, but how great would that have been?
Universal praise ensues. For LeBron, for Cleveland, for Jenkins, for Dan Gilbert.
Kevin Love will be traded to the Cavs to form a younger, better “big three” that can make a run at a title next year. Don’t trade Wiggins for Love? Love can rebound, shoot 3′s and (perhaps most importantly) throw the best outlet passes in the league. (We’ve all had the argument about how good LeBron would be as a tight end or a receiver. Adding Love will be the closest we ever get to seeing that. He might average 20 points a game on breakaway dunks.) Love’s the perfect complement to LeBron. Pat Riley and Dwyane Wade will fade away. Rockets fans will wonder why the hell they paid that much money for a guy who averages 16 points and four boards a game.
But back to today’s news. The essay. I’ll preface the following fan fiction by saying that I like LeBron. He’s chasing titles. You can argue that he isn’t doing it the “Jeter Way,” but you could also argue that rather than going to find other good players, Jeter just let the Yankees bring those players to him. Phil Jackson takes a lot of measured pauses when he speaks (most people read them as “ah, the zen-master is zenning out”… I think he might just be zoning out) and he never really says much that adds up to anything. But he’s a coaching legend because he put himself in fantastic positions of opportunity. The “genius” of the triangle offense was simply, “get the ball to MJ,” or “get the ball to Kobe and have Shaq underneath.” God bless him, he won a ton of titles and you can’t take that away from him, but his brilliance was in figuring out which way the wind was blowing and hopping on the biggest wave.
LeBron has learned that nobody is good enough to win it by himself. When Wade was still a top-10 player, they were good enough to win titles. The Spurs had four players better than Wade this year and the Heat got killed.
So LeBron is once again taking advantage of his opportunity as a free agent and going home. A home that is in much better shape then when he left. A home that could have Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love on board. He was demonized for the way he left Cleveland, with a TV show that was as interesting as when Geraldo Rivera went into Al Capone’s vault. (Google it youngsters….. and who was more smug and obnoxious at their peak, Geraldo or Jim Gray?)
So kudos to the essayist, Lee Jenkins, and here’s how we’re guessing the “as told to” version went:
LeBron: “Yo, so I’m signing with the Cavs. Look, I’m from Akron and I know a lot of people there. It’ll be fun.”
Before anyone ever cared where I would play basketball, I was a kid from Northeast Ohio. It’s where I walked. It’s where I ran. It’s where I cried. It’s where I bled. It holds a special place in my heart. People there have seen me grow up. I sometimes feel like I’m their son. Their passion can be overwhelming. But it drives me. I want to give them hope when I can. I want to inspire them when I can. My relationship with Northeast Ohio is bigger than basketball. I didn’t realize that four years ago. I do now.
LeBron: “It kind of sucked the way people reacted when I left. Be cool to make it up to them.”
Remember when I was sitting up there at the Boys & Girls Club in 2010? I was thinking, This is really tough. I could feel it. I was leaving something I had spent a long time creating. If I had to do it all over again, I’d obviously do things differently, but I’d still have left.
LeBron: “Miami was bomb though. God did we have a lot of fun. I’ll keep a pad there for the parties…off the hook.”
Miami, for me, has been almost like college for other kids. These past four years helped raise me into who I am. I became a better player and a better man. I learned from a franchise that had been where I wanted to go. I will always think of Miami as my second home. Without the experiences I had there, I wouldn’t be able to do what I’m doing today.
LeBron: “I love my boys, but I didn’t know D-Wade would age so fast. I should probably text him though.”
I went to Miami because of D-Wade and CB. We made sacrifices to keep UD. I loved becoming a big bro to Rio. I believed we could do something magical if we came together. And that’s exactly what we did! The hardest thing to leave is what I built with those guys. I’ve talked to some of them and will talk to others. Nothing will ever change what we accomplished. We are brothers for life. I also want to thank Micky Arison and Pat Riley for giving me an amazing four years.
LeBron: “Yo, say something nice about the coach… what’s his name again… Spoonstraw or something? And Riley… say something cool about him.”
I’m doing this essay because I want an opportunity to explain myself uninterrupted. I don’t want anyone thinking: He and Erik Spoelstra didn’t get along. … He and Riles didn’t get along. … The Heat couldn’t put the right team together. That’s absolutely not true.
LeBron: “We almost done? I want to get to Brazil to party. Hey, they don’t have the internet in Brazil do they?”
I’m not having a press conference or a party. After this, it’s time to get to work.
LeBron: “Winning titles is what’s up. I want to win titles in my hometown for my homeboys.”
When I left Cleveland, I was on a mission. I was seeking championships, and we won two. But Miami already knew that feeling. Our city hasn’t had that feeling in a long, long, long time. My goal is still to win as many titles as possible, no question. But what’s most important for me is bringing one trophy back to Northeast Ohio.
LeBron: “The wife’s been bitching about getting back around family. I’m like, “that’s cool.”
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.
LeBron: “I didn’t want to go back to being on the shitty Cavs again though. So I had to make sure they could get K-Love. Me, him and Kyrie can win titles.”
To make the move I needed the support of my wife and my mom, who can be very tough. The letter from Dan Gilbert, the booing of the Cleveland fans, the jerseys being burned — seeing all that was hard for them. My emotions were more mixed. It was easy to say, “OK, I don’t want to deal with these people ever again.” But then you think about the other side. What if I were a kid who looked up to an athlete, and that athlete made me want to do better in my own life, and then he left? How would I react? I’ve met with Dan, face-to-face, man-to-man. We’ve talked it out. Everybody makes mistakes. I’ve made mistakes as well. Who am I to hold a grudge?
LeBron: “Wait, does that sound too much like the 4,5,6 thing I said when I signed with Miami?” Put some, like, modest sounding stuff in there.”
I’m not promising a championship. I know how hard that is to deliver. We’re not ready right now. No way. Of course, I want to win next year, but I’m realistic. It will be a long process, much longer than it was in 2010. My patience will get tested. I know that. I’m going into a situation with a young team and a new coach. I will be the old head. But I get a thrill out of bringing a group together and helping them reach a place they didn’t know they could go. I see myself as a mentor now and I’m excited to lead some of these talented young guys. I think I can help Kyrie Irving become one of the best point guards in our league. I think I can help elevate Tristan Thompson and Dion Waiters. And I can’t wait to reunite with Anderson Varejao, one of my favorite teammates.
LeBron: “End it with something cool, man. Say some stuff about Cleveland that makes me look good. We cool? Adios, man”
But this is not about the roster or the organization. I feel my calling here goes above basketball. I have a responsibility to lead, in more ways than one, and I take that very seriously. My presence can make a difference in Miami, but I think it can mean more where I’m from. I want kids in Northeast Ohio, like the hundreds of Akron third-graders I sponsor through my foundation, to realize that there’s no better place to grow up. Maybe some of them will come home after college and start a family or open a business. That would make me smile. Our community, which has struggled so much, needs all the talent it can get.
In Northeast Ohio, nothing is given. Everything is earned. You work for what you have.
I’m ready to accept the challenge. I’m coming home.
Well done Mr. Jenkins. We’ll see the Cavs in next year’s finals.
– Bill Hubbell