words_juan antonio bisono. photo_keith allison.
On July 8, 2010 the world deemed Lebron James a traitor. People burned their jerseys, social media flooded with disapproval, and everywhere fans began to question the state of the NBA. The times of Jordan, Bird, and Magic had now officially ended. The biggest star in the sport was now the subject of a very hyped television special that will be forever known as “The Decision.” With a sly grin he announced to the world “I’m taking my talents to South Beach.” The rest was history.
The Miami “Heatles” era was short-lived, and united arguably the two best players in the game at the time (Dwayne Wade and James) with one of the other top players (Chris Bosh). It was something that had never been seen before. In the past stars had come together to win championships, but those stars had always been in the final moments of their career and from a fanatic standpoint it was easy to understand those players leaving their respective “Home Teams” to play with a contender. But, what the Big 3 did was unprecedented. Never had three players so good and in their prime united to shift the power balance of the NBA. The league had changed, and to most fans it would never be the same again.
It took almost two years for Lebron to rehabilitate his image and become somewhat respected by fan bases outside of Miami. It took time, but it had to happen. There was nothing as impressive in basketball as watching Wade and James run down a fast break and absolutely ridiculing their opponent. It was like nothing else I had ever seen in my life. I was an avid Lebron hater, an NBA purist, a league-pass connoisseur. I watch basketball every day, and have (on cable) every game from every team every night. I love the game, and to love basketball, meant to love watching Lebron play it.
His second season in Miami, Lebron won his first championship. He was now a champion, and the most polarizing star in all of sports. People hated him, but others loved him. There had never been anybody in the game with his combination of size, skill, and speed. The dude was and is a silverback gorilla. Jordan was amazing, and the best player ever by all accounts. But Jordan wasn’t built like an NFL linebacker, Lebron is. It’s amazing to watch him run up and down the court and absolutely control the outcome of a possession, no other experience in sports compares to it. No other individual influences a game like Lebron James. It’s why the entire country has been hung up on his decision the past couple weeks.There’s no one like him and it’s why, even though he left to Miami in the worst possible way, most of the people that hated him for it ended up rooting for him in the finals.
His going back to Cleveland and basically accepting his wrongs from before, is not only the right decision but it’s a hell of a story. I read the sweet letter he wrote for Sports Illustrated. It gave me goose bumps. If you haven’t checked it out: http://www.si.com/nba/2014/07/11/lebron-james-cleveland-cavaliers.
His time in Miami was amazing, and for that we should be grateful. We witnessed not only four of the greatest basketball seasons a fan could ask for, but we might have potentially watched the greatest team one of the best basketball players ever played on. The 2011 Miami Heat were one of the most impressive basketball teams ever. The 2013 NBA Finals were one of the best ever, the second of two straight won, the third straight finals participated in. He took us to four of those. That’s an accomplishment that only Bill Russell’s Celtics, Bird’s Celtics, and Magic’s Lakers have been able to do. We just witnessed something that’s only been done four times in the history of the NBA. We should be grateful for it, not disappointed.
I think Lebron always wanted to go back to Cleveland. It’s where he grew up. It’s the team he rooted for. He wants to give his hometown a championship. The prodigal son is returning, and I couldn’t be happier for him.