LeBron James hints that he’d like to be welcomed back as a Cleveland Cavalier

When you very publicly and borderline cruelly break an entire community's heart by holding a nationally televised event that ended in you deciding not to re-sign with a particular basketball team in a city close to the one you grew up in, what do you do for an encore? You don't think before you speak, and open up the door to silly blog posts like this and eventual cable-TV chewfests by pretending that you might, someday, return to that city. Like LeBron James did, on Thursday. Goodness, gracious, sakes alive.

At a shootaround before Friday night's airing of James' Heat visiting his former Cleveland Cavaliers, James tried to make everyone like him again by pointing out that he could return to play for the Cavs under owner Dan Gilbert because Gilbert "is not the coach." He then offered this, to the Cleveland Plain-Dealer:

Oh, come off it you silly twit.

(Also, Sam Amico just grew a second act in American life.)

Listen, I don't know what it's like to be disliked in every NBA city (wait … yes I do), but this is clearly James acting at his most melancholy and needy. Amico's column from a few weeks back spoke of him wanting to return to the Cavaliers directly after his current contract ended because Pat Riley (who doesn't actually coach the Miami Heat) ran tough practices. Which is so incredibly out of the realm of the possible that even a narcissist like LeBron wouldn't stoop that low. At this point, at least.

James may not want anything to do with the pressure that comes from being the go-to guy on a championship team. He destroyed the Boston Celtics and Chicago Bulls in consistent and consecutive fourth quarters during the Heat's run to the Finals last year, but there might be something in there that works until the second week of June and dissipates thereafter. We don't know. We're sure there's part of LeBron that misses the love that comes from being that cold-weather legend, the sort of guy that can lead off a TNT Thursday night as the best player on the NBA's best team, and not an ABC-evening broadcast in June. That might be there. He might want to go back.

[Video: LeBron James makes some noise with his latest big dunk]

Nostalgia is a mild form of depression. Who among us, even considering how bad things used to be, doesn't want to go back?

Amico's column has nothing to do with what is still a possibility for any athlete staggering towards winter. Willie Mays can play for the Mets, Joe Namath can work as a Charger, Michael Jordan was a Washington Wizard, and it's quite possible that LeBron James could be a Cleveland Cavalier by the time he hits the end or even middle of his career some decade from now. The Cavs might be the Space-Cleveland Space-Cavaliers by then, while we all dance around in zero gravity, but it could happen.

Right now? This is just a goofball bit of "look at me!" from a guy trying to be tactful and nice in the face of media that report to a place he called home for 98 percent of his life. James might not be completely happy in Miami, now that things haven't come as easily as he'd hoped, but there's nothing to see here in mid-February of 2012.

That might change, weirdly. Until then, enjoy Thursday's game.

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