Friday 15 December 2017 / 11:28 AM

The King returns! Are Heat fans to blame?

Two-time NBA champion and four-time league MVP, LeBron James, is heading back to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Instead of organising a worldwide live television event to announce his verdict, this time James revealed the decision (yes with a lowercase ‘D’), in an article with Sports Illustrated’s Lee Jenkins.

 

Again this monumental news has stunned the NBA universe. Many, including myself, were under the impression he wouldn’t ever leave the sunny beaches of Miami.

But things change.

Players go in and out of form; coaches alter their approach in order to keep up with the evaluation of basketball; and LeBron James has learnt from his mistake (or mistakes, depending on how many you personally think he’s made – his tattoo? Size 72 font that says “Chosen 1” on his back?).

Regardless of that, “The Decision” was a gigantic error and he’s been paying for it since.

James has had one of the roughest and most scrutinised careers of all time, and yeah a lot of that is a result of his own doing. That’s the reason why all neutral fans in the 2011 NBA Finals were subconsciously cheering for Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks.

I couldn’t understand why Dirk’s championship made me so satisfied. Besides my beloved Los Angeles Lakers (oh Kobe), I’d never been so emotionally attached to another team. I was genuinely concerned with the outcome. I wouldn’t of been entirely upset just because Dirk failed, but more so because LeBron would have finally secured a ring after the devastation he left in Cleveland – it wouldn’t have been fair to win in the big three’s first year in Miami, would it?

I’d never genuinely wanted another NBA side to win so much apart from Kobe and my Lakers (who are in a heap of trouble next season, I won’t go into that now, but re-signing Nick ‘Swaggy P’ Young – ahh crap). It was the first time in my life that I sincerely cared about an additional NBA franchise and their welfare. It might have been because I was living in New York at the time and that was a particularly great period in my life, or it could have been the fact that Dirk deserved a championship more than any other current NBA player (along with Steve Nash).

[Every time I watch this I smile – this was so, so epic by Dirk]

 

Back then, it was inevitable that LeBron would win multiple-championships throughout his career (he isn’t done yet either), but at least the German Assassin’s dominance prolonged that and gave some Cleveland fans closure.

If you don’t support Miami (or you didn’t jump on the wagon like most of the recent Heat “fans”), you can’t tell me Miami’s loss to Dirk wasn’t a little satisfying? After “The Decision”, after making fun of Dirk’s sickness (Chris Bosh still has nightmares about Nowitzki), was it karma that James disappeared in the fourth quarter of those Finals? He went on television and publically crushed his adoring hometown; there were so many negatives to come out of that debacle in 2010, even the basketball Gods knew it wasn’t right.

I’ve come to realise that it wasn’t only LeBron’s lack of judgment that altered my thoughts on the Heat; it was the Miami fans and those new “supporters”. Maybe James realised something. Could Heat Nation be a little to blame for LBJ’s departure? They rock up late to the games, they leave before fulltime, and they even booed them off the court in their recent Game 4 loss to the Spurs in the NBA Finals – that would suck to play for; what a greedy crowd.

The Heat were the fourth team in history to make the NBA finals for four consecutive seasons – that’s insane! They produced two rings, even if you knew that would be the last time you’d see your team that season, celebrate that recent success, what they accomplished was truly incredible.

What about how they left in Game 6 of the 2012-13 NBA Finals? Then Ray Allen hit the biggest shot of his life – and probably the most significant field goal in the chronicles of the Miami Heat. Then they protested when security wouldn’t let them back in the Airlines Arena for overtime.

I had a Miami fanatic tell me that San Antonio’s style of ball in the NBA Finals was boring. I know, what do you even say to somebody who is that ignorant? How can you nicely tell someone they are so far off the mark that I’m embarrassed for them?

I don’t reckon LeBron’s latest move should cause as much drama as his first announcement. But he’s the best player on the planet – there’s nowhere to hide. A perfect example was in the NBA playoffs. If James finds the open man in the corner for a game-winning shot, he gets criticised for not taking over and shooting. If he takes the shot, he gets drilled for not hitting the open man. It’s ridiculous.

James can’t win. Yeah it’s the media, but it’s also just a true testament to his incredible talent. Everyone expects so much from him, when things don’t work (and they aren’t always going to in basketball so accept that), he’s immediately thrown under the bus – that’s the price you pay when you’re the measuring tool for basketball excellence. Michael Jordan didn’t always make the right play, Kobe hasn’t hit every buzzer-beater; LeBron isn’t going to either.

Unlike Cleveland, Miami fans cannot be angry at LeBron’s exit. Upset yes – you just lost the most significant player on the planet; you are more than entitled to be saddened. But he’s been totally respectful in his exodus. He kept to himself, released a statement/article outlining his reasons for leaving, and was utterly honest from the beginning. You can’t fault the process.

James scarified and took a pay cut to go to Miami and consequently they won two rings. Be thankful for that. Be thankful he burned many bridges moving to the Heat – bridges he’s now attempting to rebuild.

Some Miami fans have adopted the correct attitude. In the second video just above, go to the 1:09 mark. One admirer writes on his Instagram: “Respect @kingames thanks for everything you did here in Miami! Best of luck to you!”.

What a legend. I was struggling to find a way I could express my thoughts; user @lej1johnny just nailed it!

The deal is believed to be a max contract with $88 million over four years.

James explains how Northeast Ohio is his home, and although he now regards Miami as his second home, the move is very much family orientated. LeBron’s wife Savannah is pregnant with their third child – it will be LBJ’s first girl – and he envisioned raising a family in his hometown and that thought made him joyful.

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”, James said.

 

Happiness – a major feeling for any athlete. My Dad says, “A happy wife is a happy life”. Things are generally better when people are in good spirits.

When James began to aggressively pass the ball during the NBA Finals, you could tell something wasn’t right, he didn’t seem happy.

The King is heading home. It’s scary, but I honestly believe his best is yet to come. It’s a frightening thought, except James doesn’t seem fearful.

Maybe Heat followers will learn something from this situation. Perchance they will think twice about pathetically booing and disrespecting the league’s greatest player off their home court. Perhaps they’ll discover that supporting your team will help to keep those great basketball assets.

Who am I kidding? They’ll probably just dig out their LeBron James Cavaliers jersey from that dark hole in their cupboard.

[Sports Illustrated]

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About the author

Drew Woodhouse

Our inspirational leader, Commentary Box Sports founder Drew is a born sports fanatic – particularly when it comes to rugby league, union, surfing NBA and NFL. A Brisbane native currently working out of Sydney, Drew’s occasional writing forays reflect that fierce passion.

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