Now that I’m starting to get over the shock that LeBron James is leaving the Miami Heat, let me start by telling you that I’m a diehard Heat fan. I’ve been a Heat fan long before the team won any championships, and long before LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh joined the team.
Let me also tell you that I like LeBron James—even today—and I’ve always thought that all that stuff that the Cleveland fans did back in 2010, when he decided to go to Miami in pursuit of his championship dreams was inexcusable. He had spent seven years with the Cavaliers giving his best. The fans and, of course, Dan Gilbert should have been more gracious towards him.
Today, I am proud that Heat fans who have been called the worst for getting to the games late and leaving early, have shown a lot of class in their reactions to James’ departure. As for Pat Riley and Micky Arison, they’re in a class by themselves. We are very lucky to have them in Miami.
I wish that I could be as classy as everyone else has been, but I’m afraid that won’t be possible. I feel betrayed, and to add insult to injury I’ve spent the weekend reading a plethora of articles from James’ admirers and ex-haters falling over themselves in their praise of James’ Sports Illustrated article explaining why he’s going home. Even The Atlantic, whose articles I normally love, has published a post entitled The older, wiser Lebron James. Please.
Can we all take a step back and remember when he said, that along with Wade and Bosh, he would bring “not three… not four… not five…” titles to Miami? Sure, that statement was an unrealistic arrogant boast, but it did one thing (besides show his immaturity), it implied that he planned to stick around. Yes, we all knew that LeBron would go back home at some point, but we never expected that it would be so soon. Actually, not even he expected that, “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.“
So just how long did James take to make a decision that would severely impact the other Heat players he leaves behind and who he calls “brothers for life”? Did he take long enough time to remember that if it wasn’t for Pat Riley, whose savvy in figuring out how to team him up with Wade and Bosh “within the league-imposed salary cap,” he might not have two NBA championship rings today? Maybe family is the main reason that LeBron is going home, but the timing, right after losing the NBA championship to the Spurs, makes his decision feel even more like a betrayal.
He justifies Cavaliers’ fans 2010 reaction by saying,”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?” Did he think about the kids in Miami who are watching him leave his team after the championship loss? Take a look at Wade and Bosh who have decided to stay with the Heat even after James’ decision to leave. Now, that is grown-up.
In short, LeBron James has the right to decide what he wants to do with his life and his basketball career. But, let’s not be blinded by the prodigal-son aspect of his return to Cleveland. His decision to leave Miami now feels premature, and if he really had no plans for a free agency at the end of the season, the hastiness of the decision is no less immature.
Let’s see what happens in two years, after working again for petty Dan Gilbert whose level of maturity seems to be lower than that of his 8-year old son who is once again allowed to wear a LeBron jersey. In any case, I wish James well, just as I wish that, from now on, any and every time the Heat face off against the Cavs, we beat the crap out of them.