Why LeBron James’ Return to Cleveland Will Be Different This Time

02.09.2018, Berlin: LeBron James, NBA professional of the Los Angeles Lakers, can be seen on the promotional tour "More than an athlete". The two-time Olympic champion has won the North American professional league NBA three times in his career and is regarded as the best basketball player of his generation. Photo: Paul Zinken/dpa (Photo by Paul Zinken/picture alliance via Getty Images)

LeBron James is coming back to Cleveland! This time, however, he will be suiting up for the Los Angeles Lakers. Cleveland Cavaliers’ fans have been down this road before when James decided to take his talents to South Beach in 2010.

Why LeBron James’ return to Cleveland will be different this time

The Decision

James has been in the center of the basketball spotlight since his High School days. His unique skill-set took the basketball world by storm. He had NBA front offices salivating at the thought of building a successful team around him. The Cavaliers’ front office might have not received that memo.

In 2010, James was fed up with the lack of help and decided to finally surround himself with more talent. He teamed up with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in hopes to win his first championship.

In James’ first return to Cleveland, he was met with a slew of boos and disrespectful posters. Who could blame them? The man who lived right around the corner and finally made the franchise relevant again decided to leave them. Oh, and he also decided to break their heart on national television.

The Promise

One thing James prides himself on is his vision. That vision doesn’t have to be limited to the court. Despite going to four consecutive finals, and winning two, James began to see the writing on the wall.

Wade and Bosh had been in and out of the lineup for the majority of the year, forcing James to carry the load. Meanwhile, in Cleveland, a young man by the name of Kyrie Irving was lighting it up and solidifying himself in the league. Because of the age and attrition of the Miami Heat roster, James’ return to Cleveland became a real possibility.

James partnered up with Irving and Kevin Love, looking to bring relevance back to northeast Ohio. The Cavaliers advanced to the NBA Finals in their first season, but got bitten by the injury bug, making it difficult for James to take down the Golden State Warriors.

But don’t worry, the Cavaliers got a chance to avenge their loss the year after. After being down 3-1 against the mighty 73-9 Warriors, the chances of winning seemed impossible. Then James and Irving happened. On the road, in a hostile environment, they led the way with 41 points each.

They also came out victorious in Game 6, forcing a crucial Game 7 back in Oakland. James had an enormous triple-double and signature block to help seal the victory for the Cavaliers. This ended a 52-year championship drought in Cleveland.

Deja Vu

One would think that the Cavaliers’ front office had learned their lesson the first go around. After returning back to Cleveland, management should have made sure that nothing got in the way of James finishing his career there.

This was not how it all went down. Irving demanded a trade in the summer of 2017, shocking the basketball world. This trade request was the start of the end for James in Cleveland. In recent reports, James revisited the situation and stated that he demanded Irving not to be traded, but the front office did it anyways.

This was a huge turnoff for James and showed that the organization might not be ‘all in’ about repeating as champions. It showed that Cleveland management may have been content with their emotional 2016 championship.

James decided to join the Lakers in the summer of 2018. He used his vision once again and took notice of the young core that was emerging in Los Angeles. He signed a four-year, $153.3 million deal which includes a player option for the fourth year.

This Wednesday, James returns to Cleveland once again. This time, however, things feel a little bit different. It feels like the fans understand James’ decision and don’t fault him for leaving such a dysfunctional organization.

Oh, and he did also end the 52-year championship drought in Cleveland, revived Cleveland’s economy, and gave the city hope time and time again. The fans shouldn’t even think about shouting a single boo. There should be a standing ovation for the hometown hero that may go down as the greatest basketball player of all time. James was the band-aid that held the organization together despite their ineptitude and the fans should certainly commend him for his heroics.

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