He’s going home. My gut has told me for several days that LeBron James would be returning to Cleveland, and now it’s officially happening. The signs have been there, from the story of his website pages being changed to Cleveland colors in the background, to a rumor that his kids had already been enrolled in private school in Ohio. Chris Sheridan has been screaming from the rooftops that James was going back to Cleveland, and my seven-year-old kid has been predicting Cleveland on my Twitter account. And not even Dan Gilbert’s infamous comic sans letter, in which he called James a coward, could stop LeBron from going home.
For everything that was wrong with the way LeBron left Cleveland four years ago, the essay he wrote for Sports Illustrated makes up for nearly all of it. It’s extremely well written, tugs at heartstrings and makes you really believe that LeBron cares about the people he hurt. And the fact that he’s been able to get past Gilbert’s scathing letter might be the most impressive thing of all. James says that he’s had a chance to meet with Gilbert “face-to-face, man-to-man,” and that everyone makes mistakes.
Ironically, the Cavs also have the Heat’s draft pick next season, and it’s probably going to be a tasty one. And the dominoes are going to start falling. Here’s what I think will happen. The Cavs go into ‘win now’ mode and do what it takes to get Kevin Love from the Timberwolves. With a core of James, Kyrie Irving and Love, the Cavs become the favorites to win the East, as well as serious contenders to win it all. The biggest question is whether they’re able to keep prized rookie Andrew Wiggins and still get Love. Last year's top pick, Anthony Bennett, was a bust last season, but reports are that he's in better shape and is ready to turn it around this year. Maybe the Cavs can use him to get Love, and hang onto Wiggins. But that's probably easier said than done.
David Blatt is another big winner here. He'll be a rookie NBA coach for the Cavs this season, and he could possibly be managing the league's best team, if they get Love. It will be interesting to see what kind of relationship Blatt and James will have, but it probably doesn't matter. This is now LeBron's team.
Chris Bosh almost has to go to Houston (on a max deal), who will now be able to trade Jeremy Lin (to the Lakers or Bucks?) and make another move or two that will allow them to match Dallas’ offer for Chandler Parsons. With James Harden, Parsons, Bosh and Dwight Howard, the Rockets are going to look like a powerhouse in the West.
Dwyane Wade should stay in Miami and remain the face of the franchise, but his championship days are likely over. The Heat are going into rebuilding mode and will likely spend years picking up the pieces.
Carmelo Anthony should be the last piece to fall and if history holds true, he’ll go where the money is. And that means he’s going back to New York, and passing on the Bulls.
There are probably two other winners in this homecoming, as I’m guessing we’ll be hearing a lot from J. Cole and Skylar Grey over the next year. It’s almost as if their song 'I'm Coming Home' were made for LeBron and Cleveland.
I’m not a Cavaliers fan, I’m not from Ohio and I’ve never even been to Cleveland. But for some reason I am really, truly happy for the people who live there and Cavs fans everywhere. LeBron is right. He’s made mistakes and mishandled things in the past. You can call me corny and whatever else you like, but I can’t imagine him handling things any better than he has in making this announcement. The word 'epic' is tossed around lightly these days, but LeBron's coming-home essay qualifies in my book.
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- LeBron James